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The Unbearable Lightness of Being

by

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Cover

ISBN13: 9780061148521
ISBN10: 0061148520
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Synopsis:

A young woman in love with a man torn between his love for her and his incorrigible womanizing; one of his mistresses and her humbly faithful lover — these are the two couples whose story is told in this masterful novel. In a world in which lives are shaped by irrevocable choices and by fortuitous events, a world in which everything occurs but once, existence seems to lose its substance, its weight. Hence, we feel the unbearable lightness of being not only as the consequence of our pristine actions but also in the public sphere, and the two inevitably intertwine.

Synopsis:

In The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera tells the story of a young woman in love with a man torn between his love for her and his incorrigible womanizing and one of his mistresses and her humbly faithful lover. This magnificent novel juxtaposes geographically distant places; brilliant and playful reflections; and a variety of styles to take its place as perhaps the major achievement of one of the worlds truly great writers.

About the Author

The Franco-Czech novelist Milan Kundera was born in Brno and has lived in France, his second homeland, since 1975. He is the author of the novels The Joke, Farewell Waltz, Life Is Elsewhere, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and Immortality, and the short-story collection Laughable Loves—all originally written in Czech. His most recent novels Slowness, Identity, and Ignorance, as well as his nonfiction works The Art of the Novel, Testaments Betrayed, The Curtain, and Encounter, were originally written in French.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Jim Burden, November 20, 2014 (view all comments by Jim Burden)
This is a novel which I would wholeheartedly recommend to a reader looking for something which will truly make them think. The two most major criticism I can think of are that the chronology is unclear and Kundera’s use of dreams can be confusing, but these seeming disadvantages serve to enrich the experience for a dedicated reader. As the synopsis here states, the plot follows two couples, although the relationships are far more complicated than that, and a variety of other characters filter in and out throughout the story. The focus shifts between these four individuals from section to section, and events are sometimes mentioned in one section which do not become clear until a later one. Despite the choppy flow of events, the writing flows together in a way which feels very intimate and cohesive. Overall, Kundera creates a work which feels like the passage of a life, replete with the varying moral and philosophical underpinnings which both complicate and enrich it. I would go as far as to characterize this as a “flow-of-life” novel, whether that is a legitimate genre or not.
The writing itself is astounding, Kundera’s control of language is masterful (kudos to his translators as well.) In the opening chapter, he introduces ideas from Nietzsche and Parmenides- not exactly beach reading. He then sets up the question which recurs throughout the novel- “Was [Parmenides] right or not? That is the question. The only certainty is: the lightness/weight opposition is the most mysterious, most ambiguous of all” (6). Is it better to live lightly, or under the “heaviest of burdens,” which also seems to be the way to “life’s most intense fulfilment?” Kundera asks these questions and then lets the lives of Tomas, Tereza, Sabina, and Franz play out, leaving the reader to draw their own conclusions.
The part of this novel which has stayed with me the most is Kundera’s exploration of symbols in human lives. He says that “metaphors are dangerous. Metaphors are not to be trifled with. A single metaphor can give birth to love” (11). Throughout the novel, every character has a set of symbols and metaphors which they hold dear and which shape their experiences. Sometimes these symbols are blatantly described as such, and sometimes they are more subtle. It’s an intriguing concept, and makes the reader wonder how much of life is shaped by perceptions and symbols and how much is based on solid reality. This is a novel which will entrance with its poetic style and characters of incredible depth. It will leave the reader certain that they just read something of immense power, but not exactly sure what happened. It’s a novel that leaves the reader with more questions than answers in the very best way possible.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780061148521
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Kundera, Milan
Translator:
Heim, Michael Henry
Publisher:
Harper Perennial Modern Classics
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Classics
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade PB
Series Volume:
Pursuing the Monk's
Publication Date:
20091027
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 x 0.8 in 10 oz

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Unbearable Lightness of Being New Trade Paper
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Product details 320 pages Harper Perennial - English 9780061148521 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , A young woman in love with a man torn between his love for her and his incorrigible womanizing; one of his mistresses and her humbly faithful lover — these are the two couples whose story is told in this masterful novel. In a world in which lives are shaped by irrevocable choices and by fortuitous events, a world in which everything occurs but once, existence seems to lose its substance, its weight. Hence, we feel the unbearable lightness of being not only as the consequence of our pristine actions but also in the public sphere, and the two inevitably intertwine.
"Synopsis" by , In The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera tells the story of a young woman in love with a man torn between his love for her and his incorrigible womanizing and one of his mistresses and her humbly faithful lover. This magnificent novel juxtaposes geographically distant places; brilliant and playful reflections; and a variety of styles to take its place as perhaps the major achievement of one of the worlds truly great writers.
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