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This review is from: The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Paperback)
This novel represents the pinnacle of the career of a very talented and relevant writer. Kundera is a writer who can mix philosophy with satire, and humour with very accurate social observations.
In 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being' Kundera tries to determine whether our actions on this earth have significance and therefore weight, or whether our actions have no ramifications and are therefore light and are dead in advance. The question he deems more important however, is which of these two situations is preferrable. Should we attach importance and weight to our actions, or should we live a life without consequence, doing whatever we want, whenever we want and to whomever we want.
Thomas' life is the perfect example of a life lived without weight. He slips from one affair to another without a second thought because he cannot stand the 'ball and chain' effect of staying with one woman. There are those who would see Tomas as a callous womaniser, but for Kundera he is the perfect tool with which to demonstrate the "lighter" way of living. The doctrine of "Einmal ist keinmal" is one that torments Tomas. The idea that a life lived once may as well have never been lived at all, and he will not get to return to test his love for Tereza against his love for other women. Although Tomas feels restricted by this situation, he ultimately grows to accept and even enjoy the lightness of being.
While Tomas battles with lightness, Tereza battles with weight. She is worn down and frustrated by Tomas' philandering, and of the two she is the one who is much more in need of embracing lightness. Through the events of the story and the shifting attitudes and conceptions of the characters, both of them end up coming to the same conclusion with respect to lightness and weight. The debate over these two options is after all the general thrust of this magnificent novel.
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Initial post: Oct 9, 2011 1:19:17 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 9, 2011 1:19:35 AM PDT
L. Reddinger says:
Tomas can indeed tolerate the "ball and chain," as you put it. After all, he thought moving to the countryside with Tereza would resolve his infidelity for Tereza's benefit.
Rather, Tomas was promiscuous simply because of his curiosity. I believe that Kundera made this clear.
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