The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Perennial Classics) Paperback – 1 May 1999
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|Paperback, 1 May 1999||
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"Brilliant . . . A work of high modernist playfulness and deep pathos."-- Janet Malcolm, "New York Review of Books""Kundera has raised the novel of ideas to a new level of dreamlike lyricism and emotional intensity." -- Jim Miller, "Newsweek""Kundera is a virtuoso . . . A work of the boldest mastery, originality, and richness."-- Elizabeth Hardwick, "Vanity Fair"
One of the most important and affecting novels written in the twentieth century.--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition. See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
At heart, The Unbearable Lightness of Being is the story of how three very different people attempt (and repeatedly fail) to reconcile their differing views of love. Tomas, for example, has promiscuous sex with as many women as possible, but he is only in love with one woman - his wife. For Tomas, love and sexuality are distinct and separate entities, and he has no moral scruples about loving one woman while sleeping with many:
"Tomas came to a conclusion: making love with a woman, and sleeping with a woman, are two separate passions, not merely different, but opposite. Loves does not make itself felt in the desire for copulation (a desire that extends to an infinite number of women) but in the desire for shared sleep (a desire limited to one woman)."
By contrast, Tomas' wife Tereza believes in marital fidelity - she loves her husband and blames herself for his womanizing life-style. Her despair in life comes from an unresolved personal mind-body dualism; she believes that Tomas loves her soul, but not her body. This fundamental difference in sexual behaviour is the conflict that underpins the entire novel - there's a heartbreaking pathos forged out of the relationship between Tomas and Tereza; their great depth of feeling is persistently tested by their irreconcilable views of love.
The third major protagonist is Sabina, an artist with an unusual take on the concept of `betrayal'. Sabina feels oppressed by her parochial ancestry and the artistic limitations imposed on her by the communist occupation.Read more ›
`The Unbearable Lightness of Being' is utterly the best book I have read in a long, long time and I would recommend it to absolutely anyone, regardless of their taste in fiction. It is powerful, moving and thought-provoking and if I could give it any more than five stars I would. Please read this book!
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Too much Es muss sein! and not enough coherence. Part meta-fiction, part philosophy, sex, betrayal, longing, art, revolution, politics and dreams all play their part in this... Read morePublished 3 months ago by keen reader
It hasn't arrived so pretty difficult to judge. I am sure it's lovely had my one materialised.Published 4 months ago by John Cooney
Tedious and repetitive self absorption. I saw it through but frankly feel that life and literature has more to offer than this pretentious 'novel'.Published 4 months ago by Sue
Thank you! As usually - World of Books works fast and in good quality!Published 4 months ago by Diana Jance