Customer Review

50 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A joy and a revelation, 19 Feb. 2003
This review is from: The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Paperback)
Milan Kundera is an unconventional storyteller. He never lets you forget his presence as author and narrator and even goes so far as to speak in the first person. He introduces his characters like acquaintances and his stories like anecdotes although parable is the more appropriate word. The story is far from incidental in his work and his characters are fully fleshed and involving but Kundera never lets his reader forget a wider significance. He also takes lengthy asides to expound a particular point or explore a particular train of thought yet this all adds rather than detracts from the beauty of the work.
Primarily this is a work about love and freedom which Kundera explores metaphorically through the opposition of weight and lightness. The essential question asked by this book is is it better to be weighed down by responsibility or to chose the unbearable lightness of being where our actions are "as free as they are inconsequential"? What price love?
This is explored through a number of different prisms and Kundera is equally at home discussing medieval theology as he is the death camps. Perhaps inevitably the Prague Spring of 1968 is given a major role and Kundera, as one who lived on both sides of the iron curtain is keen to demonstrate the way such experiences shape perception.
Kundera writes with a simple wisdom that makes his truths seem self evident and make you more aware of the way you view the world. The themes he deals with are both localised and universal. This is certainly one of my favourite books of all time and one that I keep on coming back to, either in its entirety or in small section like a reference book. Unsurpassed.
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