Tag Archives: Milan Kundera

The unbearable lightness of being

The unbearable lightness of being / Milan Kundera. Originally published 1984.

“Behind all occupations and invasions lurks a more basic, pervasive evil and that the image of that evil was a parade of people marching by with raised fists and shouting identical syllables in unison”

The unbearable lightness of being is Kundera’s classic philosophical novel about the intertwined lives of several people during the period surrounding the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. It falls somewhere between Vonnegut and Camus, being more concerned with  philosophy and the characters and their relationships than with telling a story.

In fact, if it actually told a defined story with beginning, middle, and end it would kind of defeat the book’s philosophical premise.

Originally written in Czech and first published in French, I read it in English. For various reasons, it was published in English before it was published in Czech and I’ve never seen any significant criticisms of the translation.

“Plot” summary

As I mentioned above, there’s no plot as such. Tomáš is a doctor and habitual womanizer. Tereza is Tomáš’s wife, struggling with accepting her body and with her husband’s infidelity. Sabina is an artist and one of Tomáš’s regular lovers. Franz is a professor in an unhappy marriage who is in love with Sabina.

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