- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics; Deluxe edition (October 27, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0061148520
- ISBN-13: 978-0061148521
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 440 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Unbearable Lightness of Being: A Novel Paperback – Deckle Edge, October 27, 2009
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"Brilliant . . . A work of high modernist playfulness and deep pathos."-- Janet Malcolm, "New York Review of Books""Kundera has raised the novel of ideas to a new level of dreamlike lyricism and emotional intensity." -- Jim Miller, "Newsweek""Kundera is a virtuoso . . . A work of the boldest mastery, originality, and richness."-- Elizabeth Hardwick, "Vanity Fair"
From the Back Cover
A young woman is in love with a successful surgeon, a man torn between his love for her and his incorrigible womanizing. His mistress, a free-spirited artist, lives her life as a series of betrayals—while her other lover, earnest, faithful, and good, stands to lose everything because of his noble qualities. In a world where lives are shaped by irrevocable choices and fortuitous events, and everything occurs but once, existence seems to lose its substance, its weight. Hence we feel "the unbearable lightness of being."
A major achievement from one of the world's truly great writers, Milan Kundera's magnificent novel of passion and politics, infidelity and ideas, encompasses the extremes of comedy and tragedy, illuminating all aspects of human existence.
Top customer reviews
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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.
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!
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.
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.