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November 13, 2011

The Unbearable Lightness of Being


The Unbearable Lightness of Being a novel by Milan Kundera published in 1984. This book is a Tour du Force to be sure. Milan Kundera has a quite unique way of developing the story in this novel.

There is no question that there is a great deal of provocative ideas interspersed throughout the book. However, overall I would have to say that this novel is nihilistic through and though; after all, every major character dies. Death itself is omnipresent as well.

Part of this nihilism comes from the thesis that whatever the characters do is really of no consequence in the universal scheme of things. If the universe is an infinite repetition, as suggested by Frederick Nietzsche, then whatever they do they will do again and again in the future.

The book is smart but cold. Even though Thomas, who is a central figure to the story, is totally consumed by sex, none of the scenes are truly sensual or passionate. Instead they tend to very clinical.

Kundera also jumps from third to first person throughout the story. In several occasions he is directly speaking to the reader explaining some of his philosophical ideas. I think his characters are too tightly controlled as if they were marionettes with very little latitude for development.

Lastly, he uses some flash-forward techniques which cause a lot of events to be anticlimactic and to some extent repetitious.

Nevertheless, I do recommend reading this book which is considered by many a must in modern 20th century literature.

Movie Trailer (1988)


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