The Unbearable Lightness of Being: A Novel

Front Cover
Harper Collins, Apr 7, 1999 - Fiction - 320 pages
2 Reviews

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.

What people are saying - Write a review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

The actual translation of the Czech word "nesnesitelna" is "insufferable" not "unbearable". Typically, Czech literature like this, drowns under the weight of its context: a culture of misogyny, homophobia, bigotry, insecurity, endemic corruption, the Communist social contract that provided a level of economic comfort we can hardly imagine, and a thorough contempt for the "other". Kundera, Havel, and all the other cosseted intellectuals who fled to the countryside or France (don't you wish you could flee to France) to escape the "horrors" of Czech Communism can't imagine the truly insufferable horrors meted out to their contemporaries in Western client states around the world during these times. Kundera's unbearable greatness is his ability to turn insufferable dross into a literature that Westerners think is great. He played you then, he's playing you now.  

Other editions - View all

About the author (1999)

The Franco-Czech novelist and critic 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.

Bibliographic information