The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera had had come across my sight a few times before I actually picked it. This time it wasn’t in front of my sight until a friend of mine and a fellow blogger, heartily recommended me to read it. When it comes to recommending books, there are two kinds of people, one who recommend books to their fellow beings according to their taste, and the one who would recommend anything to anyone. I am surely of the latter category, but I adore the recommendations as always.
Milan Kundera certainly knows how to write. Set against the Russian invasion Czechoslovakia, it is the story of characters as real as you are. It starts with a philosophical discussion considering the lightness and heaviness of oneself in human form, the coincidences through which paths of two different human beings cross with each other and then moves on to discuss the recursive nature of life and form, and how we intend to give meaning to things that are meaningless yet only meaningful in our heads. Once we find meaning, “we find only an unbearable weightlessness.”
Along with these philosophical discussion, the author forms characters and there lives, and their struggle to find ‘lightness’. There is no fix protagonist after reading it, I felt, and I guess one can choose their own protagonist. The story starts with Tomas who is a surgeon in Prague. He seeks lightness, but is torn between love and lust. He loves his wife Tereza, but his fond of his adulteries. However, for Tereza love and lust go hand-in-hand. She suffers from heaviness and is convinced that her husband has achieved the lightness. Only later she would realise what was what.
The other two characters are essentially important as the first two. Sabina and Franz. Sabina, a beautiful talented painter, who hates politics and propaganda that comes with that. She is someone who defines the meaning of a word author seems fond of in the book, or it seem to me, “Kitsch”. A german word which means any form of art or design is considered of poor taste because of the excessive sentimentality it defines. The context the word here used is related to politics. A new political movement when comes along, it is hard for the native people to accept it. They may feel sentimental due to it, Just like the unusual art form. However, Franz is a passionate character. He is idealist. He admires Czechoslovakia. He joins political marches and rallies as an enthusiast. But being a human, he feels heaviness in the form of mental torture about his relationship secrecy with Sabina.
Kundera’s elements in this book are perfect. He indulges opposite characters in pairs, opposite in sex and weight they bear. Then with an eventual comparison, he studies the characters of similar sex but opposite weight they bear: Sabina, and Tereza. The author also uses some symbols in his writing such as the bowler hat.
The narrative style of author is as fluent as a reader’s reading capability. It won’t take much time in average to complete this book. The plot did work for me, it is plain yet complex and at the same time. The characterisation is good. The words used by the author are somewhat thought-provoking and will continue to interest a reader throughout the novel. The book’s philosophical context is excellent and continues to provoke thoughts from chapter to chapter. In general, I never once thought that the logic recursion in life is not applicable at all. The course of life however, is defined by these virgin occuring events. This book is full of wisdom if one can say, and one will certainly enjoy it. It will certainly make you think.
5 out of 5