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The Unbearable Lightness Of Being: A Novel Paperback – Oct 19 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Deluxe edition (Oct. 19 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061148520
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061148521
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 14.5 x 2.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (144 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #229,824 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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First Sentence
The idea of eternal return is a mysterious one, and Nietzsche has often perplexed other philosophers with it: to think that everything recurs as we once experienced it, and that the recurrence itself recurs ad infinitum! Read the first page
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By "meltingyellow" on Dec 2 2001
Format: Paperback
I had no idea what I was getting into when I bought this book. But it turned out that I enjoyed it, and although it was more tedious to read towards the end, I would recommend it to anyone who can speed read.
To me this book was written as one incredibly long train of thought. The train itself breaks off into other smaller trains of thought, but it always goes back to the principle story: that of Tomas and Tereza. While Kundera may turn off the reader who doesn't enjoy straight story-telling, he does tell a story here. It's not just a book of random musings and incoherent philosophizing.
That said, the stories of "Unbearable.."'s characters are simple enough. Tomas is a philanderer, torn between his lifestyle and his love for Tereza, who kind of fell into his life by chance. Tereza is his wife, who is tortured by his infidelity but cannot leave him. Other more minor characters include Sabina, a mistress of Tomas, and Franz, another married lover of Sabina.
These four characters are Kundera's chosen examples of the human experience. He reveals their inner desires and motives, and otherwise tells their psychological stories along with their real-life stories. They each have "issues", as does everyone in this world. But it's interesting how their personal philosophies, having been shaped by both their human experience and their intrinsic individuality, are so different from each other's. This in return shapes the experiences they have with each other. Tereza and Tomas lived for so long together, yet they never really thought alike. And because of this, they lived totally separate lives.
That, in full, is my take on the book.
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By fionah on June 19 2014
Format: Paperback
A well-written, beautiful book. Kundera brings you into his world of complicated love, the meaning of life and how the decisions we make affect those around us.
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By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Jan. 20 2014
Format: Paperback
This is the story of Tomaz and Tereza as it unfolds in the modern state of Czechoslovakia over three generations. In this complex novel, Kundera looks at how relationships over time can transform individuals as to how they connect with the greater society, the state, the family, lovers, and even animals. All bases in life get covered here as Kundera ponders some of the bigger mysteries of life as to who we are as we grow apart and come together through forces we often don't understand. In all this coming and going, we should not pretend to live to ourselves because that is a sure recipe for self-destruction as seen in the sordid side story about Stalin's son dying in a German POW camp. Freedom comes from allowing oneself to be consumed in the many reshaping vicissitudes of life that involve such tensions as loyalty versus betrayal, love versus hatred, life versus death, and confidence versus fear. Tomas and Tereza's torrid, hot and cold love affair will take them all over Europe, far away from their native land, in a desperate search for happiness. Only in the end will they realize that they must return to the place of least security: a Czechoslovakia in the grips of a Communist backlash. Even with all their accumulated moments of angst and uncertain love in the past, this couple can't exist apart as they look into the future. This book is loaded with Nietzchean views as to what can traditionally stand in the way as we allow the future to remake us in the great march through time. The storyline is an emotional roller-coaster that only makes sense as the main characters move forward in their search for bigger meaning and purpose in a life threatening to pull them apart.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By elfdart TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Aug. 2 2008
Format: Paperback
i really enjoyed this book, it's one of those ones you have to think about. the story follows two couples, tomas and tereza and sabina and franz. these people are used to embody certain ideals and characteristics, and i interpreted their actions more as metaphor rather than just an act in itself.

i suppose one of the major themes in the book is expressed in the title, this idea of weight in association with how we interact with the world, and whether or not it is a good or bad thing to have. i understood the weight to be our ties to the world, our responsibilities. like a sac we carry. the question is -is it better to have the sac full of stuff you may need or want with you or is it better to be unburdened? what i found helpful was that for the perspectives presented, the opposite perspective is presented to contrast, neither one being more right than the other.

each of the four main characters had some sort of struggle they were attempting to overcome (which i loved reading about. there is nothing more enlightening and empowering than to watch someone overcome what discontents them). all of the struggles have to do with how the characters interact with those they know, which i saw to be a preference for either weight or lightness.

this is one of those books you could (and should) spend hours thinking about.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey S. Wasilewski on March 2 2000
Format: Paperback
This is the kind of novel that changes your life. For anyone who appreciates the brilliance of the writings of Kafka or Havel, this is a must read. The book's primary theme is that of lightness versus heaviness. Lightness is casted negatively by Kundera, and rightly so. A great read due to its message and unconventional style. Kundera is a master of the written word.
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