The Unbearable Lightness of Being
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The Unbearable Lightness of Being

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  153,072 ratings  ·  6,243 reviews
A young woman is in love with a successful surgeon, a man torn between his love for her and his incorrigible womanizing. His mistress, a free-spirited artist, lives her life as a series of betrayals--while her other lover, earnest, faithful, and good, stands to lose everything because of his noble qualities. In a world where lives are shaped by irrevocable choices and fort...more
Paperback, SZ-Bibliothek, 314 pages
Published May 1st 1999 (first published January 1st 1983)
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I was hesitant to start this, and figured for awhile that it would be one of those books that maybe I’d get around to or maybe I wouldn’t. It just didn’t seem like something I’d enjoy – it seemed too soft, or too postmodern, or too feel-good, or too based in hedonism, or too surface oriented. What caused me to give it a shot was the simple fact that I’ll be traveling to Prague in a few weeks, and since the book's setting takes place there, I figured it may put me in the mood for the trip. I figu...more
Steve Sckenda
Jul 11, 2013 Steve Sckenda rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Erotic Bohemians
Recommended to Steve Sckenda by: Phillip Kaufman
“Metaphors are dangerous. Metaphors are not to be trifled with. A single metaphor can give birth to love.” - Milan Kundera

“The Unbearable Lightness of Being” is the story about love in a time of despotism. During the Prague Spring of 1968, Tomas, an intellectual Czech brain surgeon, sexually conquers scores of women in a vain attempt to try to forget that he, himself, is neither free nor living a meaningful life. Reality crashes when Tomas falls in love with Tereza and when the Soviets crush the...more
There is probably one novel that is the most responsible for the direction of my post-graduation European backpacking trip ten years ago which landed me in Prague for two solid weeks. Shortly before my friend Chad and I departed, he mailed me a letter and directed me to get my hands on a copy of Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Just read it, he wrote. Whatever else you do, just read this book. It is about everything in the world.

Being already a Kafka fan of some long-standing,...more

Kundera is an unconventional writer, to say the least. If you are looking for fully fleshed characters or a smooth plot, The Unbearable Lightness of Being is not for you. Kundera merely uses plot and characters as tools or examples to explain his philosophy about life, and that is what this novel is all about. He will provide a glimpse of his characters' lives, hit the pause button and then go on to explain all about what just happened, the philosophy and psychology which drives the lives of his...more
Riku Sayuj
Dec 15, 2013 Riku Sayuj rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Riku by: Abid Hassan

The Unbelievable Lightness of The Novel

I had started reading this in 2008 and had gotten along quite a bit before I stopped reading the book for some reason and then it was forgotten. Recently, I saw the book in a bookstore and realized that I hadn't finished it. I picked it up and started it all over again since I was not entirely sure where I had left off last time. I was sure however that I had not read more than, say, 30 pages or so.

I definitely could not remember reading it for a long peri...more
منذ متى وانا لم اقرأ رواية بتلك الروعة ...
ميلان كونديرا أعادني من جديد الى عالم الروايات المترجمة الذي كنت برحته منذ زمن ليس بقليل ..
من أين جاء كونديرا بكل هذه الفلسفه ...وهذه المعاني الراقيه
يطرح كونديرا تساؤل عميق حول "" إمكانيةإدانة ما هو زائل؟ "" بمعني هل يمكننا الحكم على صحه او خطأ أفعالنا أن كانت حياتنا هي واحده فقط ...
وعلى ضوء هذه الأشكالية الفلسفيه العميقه يقص علينا حكاية الدكتور توماس وحياته ...الصدف التي تحكمت فيها و إختياراته التي تسببت في تغيير مساراها أكثر من مره ...

الدكتور توماس كا...more
Sep 14, 2007 Nathan rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Suede fans.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being was almost unbearable to read. There was a lot of pseudo-intellectual meandering about things that deserved a little more grit. Rather, I prefer a little more reality. I didn't care about the characters, and I didn't feel like they cared about anything. I feel like saying I was impressed with the thoughtiness of this book, but by the time I typed it I'd be so buried under multiple levels of irony that I'd suddenly be accidentally sincere again. What was I saying...more
the people in this book have a lot of sex. 75% of the book is getting down and doing the nasty (or thinking about it). the sex parts are written in that lofty academic language of "heat" and "passion". the word moist is used liberally. all the really raunchy stuff about body fluids is left out. though probably not too much fluid was exchanged because these people fucked and fucked and fucked and never had babies. the really interesting stuff comes between the sex parts.

the book is propelled alon...more
Rarely do I come across a book which stubbornly evades categorization of any kind, managing to keep the reader behind a veil of mystification till the very end. Like while you were reading, the book kept on giving you one insightful glimpse after another into the convoluted workings of the human psyche. But when it ended, whatever the narrative managed to encapsulate within the scope of a few hundred pages, vanished in a puff of smoke without leaving any tangible proof of its prior existence.
This book definitely wins the award for Most Pretentious Title Ever. People would ask me what I was reading, and I would have to respond by reading the title in a sarcastic, Oxford-Professor-of-Literature voice to make it clear that I was aware of how obnoxiously superior I sounded. Honestly, Kundera: stop trying so hard. Chill. Out.
When I first started reading this book, I really disliked it. Kundera wastes the first two chapters on philosophical ramblings before he finally gets around to telli...more
Amy Reed
Jan 07, 2008 Amy Reed rated it 1 of 5 stars Recommends it for: NO ONE
I have a bone to pick with Kundera and his following. People, this has got to be the most over-rated book of human history. I mean, references to infidelity alone (even infidelity that makes use of funky costumes like '50s ganster hats--the only note-and-applauseworthy aspect this book!) do NOT make for good literature, and such is The Unbearable Lightness of Being, in a nutshell. The male protaganist is, hands down, a one-dimensional and boring buffoon, while the female protaganist is lackluste...more
I spent part of my lazy weekend reading this book on the grassy hills of The Huntington Library surrounded by gardens, art, and beauty. Even the serene surroundings and my sensational reading date could not make up for this book. Weak characters, horrible assumptions, pseudo philosophy, and no clear grasp of how women are actually motivated.

Only wannabe Lotharios who pride themselves as philosophers would enjoy this.

I tried. I really did.
You know those books that you finish and then immediately begin again because they were just that good? That's what happened with Unbearable Lightness and me. After turning the page on the incredibly heart-wrenching last chapter, I needed to begin it anew so that I could savor those doughnuts of wisdom that Kundera tosses out like they were stale day-olds.

After reading the first few chapters of the book, I wrote a note to myself that said "If Love in the Time of Cholera is a representative of La...more
MJ Nicholls
Nov 21, 2011 MJ Nicholls rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to MJ by: Book Group Laddie (#1)
A good Europop lit-fic offering—a bit outmoded now, like Snap! or 2Unlimited. But still compelling fodder for philosophising undergrads with higher aspirations than erotic encounters with their right hands. The narrator is droll, sardonic, wise, and almost unbearably smug. In fact, I thought about using the line The Unbearable Smugness of Being but I decided not to because . . . drat! Also: I have vivid memories of the film version, where Juliette Binoche’s underpants ride up her crack in a most...more
13% and I'm done.

I have had a run of books that have bored me, or annoyed me, or just did nothing for me. This one is... You know, I don't even know how to describe this one.

I pretty much hated it from the first page. I do not understand the high rating on Goodreads for this book. I can barely stand the thought of picking it up again and reading more of the words telling me things about characters that I could not possibly care less about.

We have Tomas, whom we meet standing on his balcony an...more
Diana Polansky
Mar 22, 2007 Diana Polansky rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: all
"Making love with a woman and sleeping with a woman are two separate passions, not merely different but opposite. Love does not make itself felt in the desire for copulation (a desire that extends to an infinite number of women) but in the desire for shared sleep (a desire limited to one woman)."

A philosophical window into love, passion, jealousy, and duty--set during the Russian invasion of the Czechoslovakia. When you read this, you will re-evaluate your relationships--past and present--and wo...more
Oct 17, 2008 Robin rated it 1 of 5 stars Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to Robin by: Book club
Shelves: bad-books
I felt this book was contrived and to me it seemed as if the author tried desperately to sound intellectual. Instead he came off egotistical. First off all the meandering about Nietzche and quite frankly he set me off to start off by making statements I couldn't agree but he goes right on as if it is a trueism that everyone must believe in.

To be quite frank the characters were boring. The prose was uninteresting. There was no emotion, no real depth, and how many times to I have to hear about hi...more
لا اعرف ان كنت سعيدة من الانتهاء من قرأتها أم حزينة ؟ كانت رواية رائعة .. عميقة ..دفينة ..واقعية ..فلسفية..بعدها الإنساني في دواخل المرأة والرجل ،علاقتهما المصيرية ،و دواخل الإنسان التائه في هذا الكون ...الرواية تستاهل رفيو مرررتب :)


هذه الرواية كالحلم تعبر به الى عوالم الداخل الانسانية تساؤلات عظيمة طِرحت عن ... المصير...الاختيار... المسؤلية …. الحمل "ثقيله وخفيفه"...حاله من الافكار الوجودية مع خلفية سياسية اقتصادية ذات ايقاع انساني يعرج على الثقافة والحضارة والإيمان والفن.......more
Aya Ezz
هل هي الثقل أم الخفة أم الأثنين معاً؟
هل هي رواية أم تحليل نفسي أم فلسفة حياة أم إعادة تناول لمفاهيم الحياة؟
هل هي جانب من الحياة أم كل الحياة؟؟
بدايةً هي أول قراءاتي لكونديرا ولن تكون الأخيرة بعد قراءتي لهذه الراوية، فقبل أي شئ بهرني أسلوب كونديرا في السرد، وللحق سألقبه بـ "الحكاء الذكي" نعم فهو يتمتع بقدر من الذكاء ما يجعلك تعض اناملك بعد كل سطر تقرأه ، لا بل كل سطر يهمس به في أذنك من شدة الانبهار، فلم أشعر معه بملل ورتابة الروايات بل شعرت به يهمس في أذني بتفاصيل الرواية، إحترم وقدر القارئ في كل...more
Di come l'ingenuo lettore viene gabbato, e anziché leggere un romanzo, si avventura nelle fitte e deliziose trame di un testo a fronte.

Per un attimo fate finta di essere ancora sui banchi di scuola.
Per un attimo siete di nuovo al Liceo.
Entra la professoressa di Latino e Greco.
“Oggi faremo Il De bello Gallico”. Bene!!
Riuscite a vedervi? Siete quelli con la faccia annoiata in terza fila.
La vostra docente incomincia a leggere. Lei sì, che è concentrata. Perché sa.
Voi potete forse capirne il s...more
I have a weakness for intelligent discussion of the human condition. If an author can take normal situations and delve into the metaphysics in a detailed and impressive fashion, four stars are guaranteed. And if they pose an idea that forces me to sit back in silent contemplation for a while before reading on, well. Five stars is almost not enough, especially if this occurred less than five pages in. I know that's a very early time to decide on the rating, but my decision never wavered as I prog...more
This book contains a light, an unbearably light…, but profound anatomy of the psychology of totalitarianism in the Age of the Spectacle – and thus is of great interest. It is, moreover, deftly handled. Kundera understands what he is speaking of – he *understands* it. I am quite surprised to find that so many GR reviewers found the book uninteresting or flawed.

Of particular interest is his analysis of ‘kitsch’ – as key to the pathology of modern, spectacular man.

Kitsch (the absolute or “categoric...more
رواية غزيرة، كثيفة، لا أصدّق بأنّها لم تكن سوى ٢٨٠ صفحة ! لقد التقطتُ أنفاسي كثيرًا أثناء قراءتها وابتعدت .. ابتعدت لأنّه من المرهق قراءة رواية كهذه !

كونديرا الّذي يتحدّث إلى قرّاءه أكثر بكثير ممّا يكتب لهم، يقاطع أحداث روايته فجأة وينقل إليهم رأيه الخاصّ في الفكرة الإنسانية، وكونديرا الّذي يمتلك قدرة عالية على التّلاعب بالزّمان والإحاطة بالحدث من زوايا عدّة، فهو يروي الحدث نفسه موجّهًا عينيه صوب تيريزا تارة وصوب توماس تارة أخرى، فيلهمك الكثير .

في بداية الكتاب كنت أشعر بأنّه ينتزعني انتزاعًا وبأ...more
I don't like authors who tell me how to read or point out exactly what they think is important in their text. Kundera couldn't keep his mouth shut and wouldn't let the story flow, so he gets a sad face.

Also, one of the characters had a thing for fingering people in the butt. Unless I'm reading male gay erotica, I don't like ass play in my novels.
في البداية: معذرة, فهذا الريفيو ليس موضوعيا, بل هو شخصي,
متعلق بما رأيته فيّ من خلال الرواية.

كونديرا يستخدم أسلوب التفجيرات في هذه الرواية,
يفجر الأسئلة منذ الصفحة الأولي, بل منذ الفقرة الأولي,
لم أبذل أي مجهود للدخول في جو الرواية مثلما أفعل في بقية الروايات,
فكونديرا يجذبك جذبا منذ بدايتها.

يفجر نقاط ضعفي في وجهي,بسلاسة, يعري تلك الشروخ الصغيرة الرفيعة داخلي التي أتحاشا تذكر وجودها فضلا عن شجاعة النظر إليها لأجد نفسي مدفوعة لحقيقة
"يالهشاشتي, تلك الشروخ كفيلة بتفتيتي مع أي لمسة".

يفجر أفكارا طالما ت...more
K.D. Absolutely
Feb 24, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die and 501 Must Read Books
Shelves: 1001-core
Unbelievably original! I have never read a book like this! It is full of dreamlike lyricism, intense emotion, truth and honesty. One of the books that truly deserves to be in both 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die and 501 Must Read Books! It is one of the memorable books I've read in the recent past.

This is a story of two couples:
Couple 1: Tomas and Tereza - he is a doctor and she used to be a waitress before their life together. He is a pathological womanizer but he rationalizes that it...more
I feel extremely ill-equipped to write a review of this book and I'm going against my better judgment by putting these words down rather than just giving this book a star rating.

I'm confused as how to rate this. The writing (despite it being in a non-linear format, which is not my favorite) is beautiful. Kundera throws out some choice morsels, lines, and thoughts which are often profound and moving.

He also throws out some analogies which, frankly, were lost on me (admittedly, philosophy has nev...more
Mashael Alamri
هل نكون حقاً ظلمنا الثقيل دائماً ؟ هل ما نقوم به كـ ردة فعل عكسية للأشياء هو ناتج عن “ضغط الخفة ” اللامتناهي ؟ بعثت لي صديقتي التي تشاركني قراءة هذا الكتاب برسالة تقول :
- شيء يشبه القتامة في نفسي !
كنت أرغب بأن أجيب عليها وأقول ” خفة هذا الفراغ الذي نعيشه بدأت تزعجك لا شيء أسود يا صديقتي حتى الظلام لم يعد أسوداً صدقيني نحن نشعره حتى لو وقفنا تحت أنوار الفلاشات في حفل أوسكار أو في مسرح كبير فُتحت كل أنواره ”
لكنني وكما أشيائي الأخرى التي أعدلُ عن تنفيذها في آخر اللحظات لم أرسل شيئاً و بقيت أفكر وح...more

Tomas did not realize at the time that metaphors are dangerous. Metaphors are not to be trifled with. A single metaphor can give birth to love.

Tereza saw herself threatened by women, all women. All women were potential mistresses for Tomas, and she feared them all.

Ouch. That one brought back some not-so-good memories.

Her soul had lost its onlooker's curiosity, its malice and pride; it had retreated deep into the body again, to the farthest gut, w...more
ما يميز هذه الرواية بنظري، هي كم التساؤلات التي ظهرت مع كل قسم كنت أقرأه.
ليس فقط التساؤلات إنما أسلوب الرواية الذي دفعني للتفكير ، و الإختلاء بنفسي و الحديث مطولاً عن ما اعتبره خفة و عمّا احتمله من ثقل محبب.

أعجبني أسلوب الكاتب في طرحه أفكاره الفلسفية وبعض التحليلات النفسية و الإجتماعية للشخصبات و الأحداث.
بيّن جانب مختلف للرجل المحب للنساء "توماس" ،نفى بعض الإعتقادات التي كانت تسكن داخلي.
كنت اعتقد مسبقا إن الحب بإمكانه أن يجعل من هذا النوع من الرجال مخلصاً ، هذا أحدهم ، أم الإعتقاد الآخر، أن هذا...more
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Bookworm Bitches : March 2014: The Unbearable Lightness of Being 22 89 Apr 04, 2014 08:23PM  
what is your idea about Tereza? 45 866 Mar 18, 2014 12:19PM  
World Travel thro...: * April 2014: The Unbearable Lightness of Being 1 5 Mar 16, 2014 09:42AM  
Betrayal in the Novel 4 109 Oct 03, 2013 12:48PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Original Publication Date Issue 10 104 Aug 17, 2013 02:49AM  
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Milan Kundera is a Czech and French writer of Czech origin who has lived in exile in France since 1975, where he became a naturalized citizen in 1981. He is best known as the author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, and The Joke.

Kundera has written in both Czech and French. He revises the French translations of all his books; these therefore are not conside...more
More about Milan Kundera...
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting Immortality The Joke Laughable Loves Identity

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“When the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to object.” 2121 likes
“Anyone whose goal is 'something higher' must expect someday to suffer vertigo. What is vertigo? Fear of falling? No, Vertigo is something other than fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.” 1686 likes
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