The unbearable lightness of being by Milan Kundera

The unbearable lightness of being

ISBN: 05711353390
Number of pages: 304
Bestsellers: The unbearable lightness of being, the book of laughter and forgetting
First Published: 1984

Nightflier speaks:
There is hardly anyone, (except if you are Sheldon Cooper type), who does not ponder upon the idea of love growing up, growing old. Like everyone I have done it and still do it. Precisely 4 years ago, my notion of this seemingly bolly/holly-woodish concept was simple. Through some personal and then some vicarious (acquired from friends in their suffering and happiness) experiences, I stopped being influenced by 'the movies'. Not because I have become thoroughly cynical, but may be because love is personal and universal. It becomes personal because of the souls involved and is universal because of the physicality of it. Of course, I am digressing hugely from the topic at hand. But I will get there. Like the book.

Milan Kundera gives us 4 principle characters (and few side-kicks to complete the circle) and puts forward his philosophical discussion about love, life, being, lightness, weight, soul, body, misunderstandings. More than what happens to the characters we get drawn in this unending chaos of whys and hows. A lot that happens is fortuitous, circumstantial perhaps.

There is Tomas. He is the emblem of lightness. He moves from woman to woman without any attachment, until he finds Tereza, who needs someone to protect her. And although its against his lightness, he comforts her. Tereza is drowned by weight. Of unhappiness. Tomas's mistress, Sabina, the one who really understands him, the one he understands is torn. She cant live without betrayals. Sabina's lover Franz, is a good person, loyal and highly educated. He leaves everything for Sabina, only to find himself left stranded and liberated. Through the spirit of Sabina. Why do these people do what they do? What must drive them? In turn is that what drives us too? Do we believe in fortuities because we are utterly incapable of reality? Weighed down by some burden? Why. Why. Why. 

Kundera is gifted with words (needless to say). The original book in french must be a delight (but with my poor reading skills I stuck to english). It isnt his ability to delve deeper, but rather his ability to draw us into this philosophical journey, which I found remarkable. Without being a drag i.e. 
Also, his take on the soviet regime and communism in Czechoslovakia is asinine. The way he takes digs at both, the way he portrays emigre's life, give you a deep insight on his love (?) for a country which was once his home.

May be my comparisons are hasty and somewhat not fully realized, but I could not help myself from thinking about the movie Closer. I thought about Anna, Alice, Dan and Garry while reading the book. A lot.

Rating: 5/5
Price: 263 Rs. (flipkart)


  1. One after another, you are reviewing some of the finest literary works available. You surely deserve kudos for that.

    To me, the most fascinating aspect of the book is— though the characters are filled with depth, they do not quite live like wise men. Narrated by an anonymous character who watches and observes the lives of the protagonists, the story follows the main characters—four of them—who are desperately attempting to separate love from sex and lust.

    And of course, the novel is not only a philosophical puzzle, it is also very political. Through the eyes of the anonymous narrator we, the readers, follow the characters as they struggle with love, lust, temptation, fate and the meaning of life against the backdrop of the Russian invasion into Czechoslovakia. After all, The Unbearable Lightness of Being is an enthralling read. And not to mention, it is the "lightness" of life, what makes living so "heavier." :-)

  2. You just reviewed one of the most important books I've ever read, and name-checked one of my most favorite movies all in one post. AND I've just finished a massive deadline and it's still early enough to go out. FTW!

  3. thanks RKP.
    I am still thinking about a lot of things the book talked about. And being set up around a conflict is what makes it all the more classic.

    Icy highs - Well the book made me think so much. Guess


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