Spring Deals Automotive HPC Best Books of the Month New-season heels nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc Stream your favorites. Amazon music Unlimited. Learn more. GNO for Samsung S9 Starting at $39.99 Grocery Handmade Personalized Jewelry Home and Garden Book a house cleaner for 2 or more hours on Amazon MMM MMM MMM  Echo Dot Fire tablets: Designed for entertainment Kindle Paperwhite AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Shop Now TG18PP_gno

VINE VOICEon August 19, 2009
Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of the Being is a pithy masterpiece. The author captures the essence of the 'being' of four or five chief characters. He manages to describe their thoughts and deeds, what weighs upon their souls, what rescues their selves from onerous existence, in an achingly beautiful, yet unobtrusive way. The infidelity & philandering of Tomas, the doubts and dreams of Tereza, the artistic idiosyncrasies of Sabrina and the intellectual myopia and indulgences of Franz are as engaging as the philosophical and historical notes that flow through the story.

The novel is a deep and defining study of humanity in 20th century, of our hopes and failings, of the moral and material needs and our capacity for being tormented by our pasts and passions. There are paragraphs and paragraphs of poetic beauty, and yet everything is written in the most simple, straightforward sentences. The description of Karenin, the dog owned by Tereza, is brilliant, especially in the final chapter of the book. Another favorite chapter was on "words misunderstood", for in the romance between beings belonging to two different pasts and two countries, where seemingly same words assume drastically different connotations.

This is a mature novel, meant for readers who can look beyond the surface. On surface this is novel laced with sexual content and contexts, a novel that describes the gimmicks of communist Russia and their stay in Czech country, a novel that spurns philosophical ramblings interwoven with discussion about the "sh** being a onerous theological problem". On surface the novel is story of infidelity. But deep down this is a novel that strikes chord with the intelligent reader on so many different levels, be it romance, ethics, interpretation, or our own complexities arising from our own unique pathways of life.

The novel weighed on me, confronted me with many issues, ideas and memories, and then at times, it released me from my own suffocating and smothering thoughts and experiences. I highly recommend this novel. If you enjoy Lawrence, Joyce and Gibran, be introduced to Kundera, who carries the torch of modernist writing ahead: and in what style!
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on October 13, 2007
I almost gave up on this book within the first ten pages or so, such was my contempt for the philosphy and general behavior of Tomas, one of the principal characters in this story and the first one through whose eyes we see the world inhabited by all of Kundera's characters. But I carried on, buoyed by the recommendations of my girlfriend and a young man whose opinion I value. Both recommended this tale of intersection, intertwined relationships in Cold War Europe.

Tomas, a surgeon, is a hedonist who believes "einmal ist keinmal," if we only have one life to live, we might as well not lived at all. Compassion is heavy and undesirable. And so he goes about the collection of sexual experiences with women, "erotic friendships," even as he lives another compartmentalized life with his Wife Tereza. He eventually concludes that sex and love are two opposing things, at least for him; the idea that Tereza might share her body with other men upsets him.

Tereza, a photographer, is aware of Tomas' infidelities and suffers through them by variously ignoring them, engaging in short-lived experimentation herself, and ultimately by sharing her love with an important family pet. The author shares quite a bit of the history of Tereza with her difficult yet much loved mother. That narrative was one of my favorite parts of the book. For a time Tereza leaves Tomas. The latter follows her, invoking Beethoven's "es muss sein!" to describe his love for Tereza. This statement is a motif throughout the book, and changes in meaning. In fact, the author's frequent, wonderful digressions are one of the best parts of the book as he explores changeability in apparent sameness, beauty in weakness,

Sabina, an artist, is one of Tomas' mistresses. Franz, in turn, is devoted to Sabina yet married to another person. One part of the book is devoted to "Words Misunderstood," and follows Sabina and Franz as they experience the same events and places in very different ways. Just because two people are in the same place at the same time doesn't mean they perceive things in even a remotely similar fashion. Franz is an academic and idealist for whom The Grand March, the Platonic ideal of "protest" is an elusive goal.

In later parts of the book Tomas derives much of his strength during his personal and political challenges not from the "es muss sein" for love of his wife, but of his profession. Even his meeting with Tereza, he considers, was born of a series of accidents while his profession was something he chose and pursued through an act of will.

In the end, though, there is a wonderful redemption story as Tereza is frank with Tomas about what he's done to her, and Tomas realizes the pain he has caused and dedicates himself finally to his bride. In bringing the moment of Tomas' final dedication to love, the author makes use of strands of the story that have been woven throught the entire course of the narrative. And in the end, I believe both achieved a "lightness of being."

And I learned a few additional lessons along the way. I would have made a terrible mistake in giving up on this book so early. This collection of stories, the history as seen through the eyes of the four main characters, is told in a wonderful, human voice. When Tereza blushes in front of Tomas, it is explained that she "felt her soul rushing up to the surface [of her body] through her blood vessels and pores to show itself to him." There is much pain in the pages, much physical pleasure, and some joy. The joys that are discovered through difficulty are so much sweeter for that which has come before.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on November 15, 2016
Beautiful. The movie was good but this gave a far better feel of the story. And, duh, Milan Kundera is one of the best authors ever. Can't believe it took me 15 years to getting around to reading it. One of those types of books where you mark a page or ten because the phrasing is so personal and relevant to life in general. And yes, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" is explained and .... simply beautiful. You want to read it more than once. Stunning.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on June 20, 2012
I could not bear to put this down once I started.
This is a story that shouldn't be confused as anything other than the complete story of current and vintage humanity.I didn't want to read the whole thing in one sitting because then the fantastic, sensual, deep masterpiece would be finished. I had to put it down occasionally, only to be regurgitating the sentences in my mind and reviewing the concepts written in the book, in words I could never have come up with for things I have known for a long time. Could that be the sign of a brilliant writer- one who can beautifully and perfectly write things you have known for a long time but couldn't ever articulate?
My friend who recommended it was so in love with the book that she got a tattoo of a bowler hat in it.
11 comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on September 2, 2017
good book but the low quality
review image
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on November 11, 2015
This is an amazing and thought-provoking book. The writing is beautiful: articulate, philosophical, eloquent. It makes you think about relationships and love in general, and the various ways that people love. It examines without criticism or judgement. Certainly not for everyone---this will probably make some people uncomfortable---but I loved it.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on March 11, 2013
This novel reads like a modern Dostoevsky novel, but better. It explores the lives and minds of not only the characters, but what is created and lost within the interaction of those characters; how we relate, how we love, how we try attempt to make sense of things. The characters themselves are well defined, well executed and unique in the way we're all unique while at the same time being homogenous enough to recognize.

Not only are the characters amazingly human and brilliantly developed in the romantic style, it also explores fascinating ideas and themes that transcend or invert traditional social mores. The over all focus being on whether light is positive or negative and using that as a tool to analyze such things as betrayal, nationalism, and adultery.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on August 4, 2015
A beautifully written story of love, based on the two main characters of Tomas and Tereza and the lesser characters of Sabina and Franz during the Russian invasion of Czechslovakia which began in 1968.
Kundera is a genius at getting below the skin of his characters, dissecting close to the bone so that human foibles become at least understandable if not totally acceptable. In this way the characters are real and likeable.Even though Tomas is a serial womanizer his love for Tereza and his other admirable qualities have the reader on his side.
This book will not be enjoyed by those who see the world as plain black and white but for those who love a philosophical discussion against the background of a true historical event you will not be sorry you read this book.
I have no hesitation in awarding five stars for this sensitive and heart warming book.
I absolutely related to the discussion on animals towards the end of the book and felt the grief of Tereza and Tomas at the loss of their beloved dog Kerenin.
Highly recommended for those who enjoy thoughtful and intelligent literature.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on May 2, 2014
Michael Henry Heim's translation demonstrates that "mankind's deepest needs" are the same. Insights into the horror felt by intellectuals during the Communist takeover in Kundera's homeland to the very personal complexity of relationships in and out of marriage,between fathers and sons, between humans and dogs and pet pigs-- all of this along with the conversational first-person narrator--draws in the reader, reaffirming why one loves novels.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on April 30, 2012
I found this book by accident. I was browsing for books to read for an independent study I am currently doing on Communism in Eastern Europe, and when I typed "communism, Eastern Europe" into Amazon, this book came up. From reading the summary, and seeing the overall pattern of people completely falling in love with this book, I decided to buy it.

That being said, I am beyond glad I did.

Kundera weaves together the stories of four people who are bound by common themes of love, sex, communism, loss, self-interest, self-worth and death, all within the framework of this idea of lightness and weight. At some points, Kundera will wander far away from the characters themselves and dive into a discussion about the existence of the self, the existence of God, the idea that things cannot repeat, and the politics of living in a time when your politics weren't a choice.

The words themselves that Kundera uses to tell the story are wonderful, and he repeats little motifs or phrases in a way that makes you appreciate them every time you see them printed again. I loved this book, and I loved the way that this book made me think. A fantastic read.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse

Need customer service? Click here