Stoned Racounteur

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Unbearable Lightness of Being: Milan Kundera

OK, I'm done with the novel,here is a small preview of what lies within those 305 pages.

Set against the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, the story evolves around different fictional topics but could just as well be the story of real people. A man torn between thought and emotion, between love and lust. A woman who lives for rebellion. Tomas, the male protagonist, falls in love with Teresa and marries her, while still having many one-night stands in an attempt to give weight (meaning) to his life. Moreover, he maintains a love-affair with Sabina.

Teresa is aware of Tomas' adulteries and cannot bear the situation, which manifests itself in numerous detailed nightmares illustrating the realities of life. For Teresa, love and sex go together, whereas Tomas believes that having sex without love is possible. The female protagonist therefore suffers from the heaviness of life, while her male counterpart feels the unbearable lightness of being. Teresa later tries to gain this lightness for herself. Most of us carry the heavy and the light, the expression of either part depending on our character and circumstances. For that reason, one can identify with Teresa as well as Tomas and Sabina too.

He talks about opposites: life and death, heaviness and lightness throughout his story. You can try to decide which life is happier: the light or the dark? What is "The Unbearable Lightness of Being?" It is the realization that, with no hope of knowing the right path from the wrong, there can be no wrong path. One is necessarily absolved of mistakes. The search for meaning in life leans towards the necessity of significance, which comes from a sense of weight. Are events forgiven in advance because they happen only once? But, is it also not unbearable that events only occur once as we can never go back and rectify our mistakes? Everyone wishes they could replay a past error; a lost opportunity, a lost love, a relationship that should not be. Is this not unbearable?! Is this not a weight we feel pressing down on us every day?

The novel is an attempt to identify what makes us need companionship in life so badly, trying to understand the relationships between the conflicting desires that humans possess and act upon. What makes a man leave the woman that he loves and is perfectly happy with and seek something intangible in the arms of a mistress? Why does the same man sacrifice everything he has - freedom, social status, and his life's work - only to go back to the same woman he absolutely had to leave before? Is the absence of any responsibilities and ties in life really a "lightness"? Could this absolute lightness turn into absolute emptiness and thus become unbearable at some point - a burden pulling us to the ground? It shows how vulnerable we are, and how miserable we can be made by our contradictory desires, aspirations and impulses.

Here is one line that struck me->>
"How can life ever be a good teacher if there is only one of them to be lived? How can one perform life when the dress rehearsal for life is life?"

Anywayz, i would recommend this book and say that all in all twas a good experience.

P.S: Next book is "Power Shift: Alvin Toffler"


  • thanx for a nice and detailed review..

    it has made me think bout reading the buk again

    but didnt u said earlier that u didn lyk d buk ???

    By Blogger ViceOfMyVirtues, at 1:45 AM  

  • dude twas gettin a lil boring in the middle but kinda gained momentum as it went on.Not the easiest book to read but a good read nonetheless.

    By Blogger Rohit Anand, at 10:18 PM  

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