The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

9717After being divorced from his wife, Tomas comes to the realization that a monogamous relationship is not for him. When Tereza enters his life like “a child put in pitch-daubed bulrush basket and sent downstream”, he feels a connection to her that he hasn’t felt with another woman. But this love does not hinder him from still seeing other women, which makes Tereza jealous. Tomas’s mistress and close friend, Sabina, is an artist who takes satisfaction in the act of betrayal. When her lover, Franz, leaves his wife for her, she betrays him by moving away. Through these four complicated and intriguing characters, Milan Kundera challenges Friedrich Nietzsche’s concept of eternal recurrence by suggesting that the events that occur through our lives only occur once and never again.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being is a difficult book to explain—for me, anyway. I enjoyed the philosophy woven throughout the chapters and I feel the topics highlighted—love, sex, relationships—could generate interesting conversation with other readers. I liked how Kundera would briefly go through a time frame in a characters life in one section, and then expand on the same time in another section. Although some would say that made the book repetitive, it was more of a deeper look that brought more insight to the story and the characters. At the same time, I felt there were some parts of the plot that were left open. Once or twice, Kundera would reveal an event that would happen to the characters but then never come full circle with that specific plot.

While The Unbearable Lightness of Being was a little dense in some sections, it was not confusing. There are sections that focus more on the philosophy than on the story that I needed to re-read to understand, but those parts were evened out by the simplistic and refreshing story that accompanied it. It’s a book I’d recommend to those interested in philosophy, and definitely a book worth re-reading.

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