Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being Review

I have been sitting in front of a blank page for a while now, partly because this is my first published review on the blog and partly because the book I am attempting to review had quickly become a favorite of mine.
So, I guess I will start by saying thank you for taking the time to check my blog, I hope you find my reviews interesting and possibly be motivated to give the books mentioned a read!

Having to choose the first book to discuss on here was probably the easiest task of all, it was a no-brainer to pick Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being. It may be the mention of Nietzsche in the first line of the first page, or the beautifully developed character of Karenin (the dog named after Anna Karenina), that had me so emotionally attached to the book, but it had been an overall captivating read.

Kundera’s novel of love and politics in communist-run Czechoslovakia focuses on four main protagonists, and gives them more and more depth throughout the reader’s journey. The plot could be regarded as simple and even bland when reduced to its sequential basis, however, the appealing factor rests with the complicated yet well-developed characters and their psycho-philosophical analysis.

Thomas is a brilliant surgeon and a womanizer or, as he prefers to call himself, a “curiosity collector” who has completely separated his lust for women from his genuine love for his wife. He considers himself a “light” libertine.

The wife, Tereza, has been brought up in the vulgar and invasive presence of her mother who always robbed her daughter of any sense of beauty. She adores her husband and while she attempts to understand his lifestyle, she struggles to be “light” about it.
Sabina is one of Tomas’ mistresses and friend, a painter with a quirky lust for betrayal, and after betraying her lovers, her country, her friends and even her artwork, she has nothing left to betray and feels entirely empty, ironically burdened by this new “lightness”.

Franz is an idealist, married man who falls in love with Sabina. However, that love soon becomes a holy, almost religious experience for him, he becomes incapable of “lightness” and feeds the need to attach weight and importance to everyone and everything.

Kundera’s way of bringing these characters to life seems effortless, even “light”; you lose the power to judge their actions because, for that single chapter, you become them. Although the book starts with a seemingly slow pace, it picks up quickly once you’ve been properly introduced to each of the protagonists. By the end, you would find yourself relating to each one of them, questioning what you believed in before reading the book.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being is dark, genius and so beautifully written that I had to stop myself from highlighting it from cover to cover. I’m sure I will be meeting this quartet in a second read very soon. Until then, I would like to believe this review motivated you to get a copy and if you’ve already read the novel, I’d love to know what you thought about it in the comment section!

Enjoy and always bring a book home. x

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