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The Unbearable Lightness of Being

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  288,817 ratings  ·  12,871 reviews
Librarian's note: There is an Alternate Cover Edition for this edition of this book here.

In this novel - a story of irreconcilable loves and infidelities - Milan Kundera addresses himself to the nature of twentieth-century 'Being' In a world in which lives are shaped by irrevocable choices and by fortuitous events, a world in which everything occurs but once, existence see
Paperback, 305 pages
Published August 21st 2000 by Faber & Faber (first published 1984)
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Glenna Lee I definitely feel this way! I wish I had read this book so much sooner. It is beautiful and so full of rich metaphors and unapologetic in their use.…moreI definitely feel this way! I wish I had read this book so much sooner. It is beautiful and so full of rich metaphors and unapologetic in their use. And most importantly, as someone who struggles often to resolve existential angst, it is really insightful in regards to the issues which cause this. (less)
Helene Farber (Provance) If you liked the movie you may not like the book because it is totally different, i.e. the book is brilliant. The movie did not reflect the book very…moreIf you liked the movie you may not like the book because it is totally different, i.e. the book is brilliant. The movie did not reflect the book very well at all. On the other hand, you may love the book as it would clarify the mess of the movie. It's a great philosophical novel. (less)

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4.09  · 
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 ·  288,817 ratings  ·  12,871 reviews

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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
Nov 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review is sung by Freddy Mercury to the tune of Bohemian Rhapsody.

Is this a fiction?
Is this just fantasy?
Not just a narrative
Of Czech infidelity.

Reader four eyes
Look onto the page and read
I'm just a Prague boy, I’ve sex with empathy
Because I'm easy come, easy go
A little high, little low
Any Soviet era Czech knows, unbearable lightness of being

Good Reads, just read a book
Put a bookmark on the page
Played my audio now it’s read
Good Reads, the book had just begun
But now I've read all Milan had t
Jun 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
Jun 20, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews

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
Huda Yahya

لا يوجد وصف حاضر في ذهني
لا توجد كلمات تسعفني
أشعر بالعجز التام

كلما ارتأيت مفتاحا مناسبا
للكتابة عن هذه التحفة خذلني قلمي
أرتبك وأتحير وأتلعثم
وأصمت كثيرا

أولم يقولوا
"والصمت في حضرة الجمال جمال"

تعلمني الرواية
-نعم أقول تعلمني لا علمتني
لأنها لاتزال للآن في دمي
تعلمني أن أتواضع كثيرا

أن أتعلم رؤية العالم بطريقة جديدة
بروح جديدة

أن أعود كائنا بدائيا يفتح عيونه بدهشة
ويتعرف على الخطوط،،الألوان،،الأصوات

كل شيء جديد ومبهر بعيون كونديرا

سأعود بعد قراءتي الخامسة ربما
ربما أستطيع أن أكتب شيئا

أما الآن
فلا شيء سوى
°°°·.°·..·°¯°·._.· ʜᴇʟᴇɴ Ροζουλί Εωσφόρος ·._.·°¯°·.·° .·°°° ★·.·´¯`·.·★ Ⓥⓔⓡⓝⓤⓢ Ⓟⓞⓡⓣⓘⓣⓞⓡ Ⓐⓡⓒⓐⓝⓤⓢ Ταμετούρο   Αμ

Και θα σε αγαπάω απο δω και πέρα είτε με την αγάπη που βρίσκεται στο πεδίο της βαρύτητας,είτε με την αβάσταχτη ελαφρότητα στη ρευστότητα του κόσμου.

Μου έμαθες απλά λιτά και απέριττα όποτε μπορώ να επιλέγω εγώ μια απο τις δυο ιδιότητες: βαρύτητα-ελαφρότητα.

Αυτό το μυθιστόρημα που αυτομάτως πέρασε στα αιώνια αγαπημένα μου είναι ένας ύμνος δοξολογίας γραμμένος στις χιλιάδες παρτιτούρες του κόσμου προς τον έρωτα.
Μέσα και βαθιά σε αυτή την μοναδική γραφή κρύβονται απροκάλυπτα πολ
Ahmad Sharabiani
256. Nesnesitelna lehkost byti = L’insoutenable legerete de l’etre = The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Czech: Nesnesitelná lehkost bytí) is a 1984 novel by Milan Kundera, about two women, two men, a dog and their lives in the 1968 Prague Spring period of Czechoslovak history. Although written in 1982, this novel was not published until two years later, in a French translation (as L'Insoutenable légèreté de l'être). The original Czech text was publ
Amy Reed
Jan 06, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 03, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Becky by: Jen
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
Jul 13, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-list
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
Sep 14, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  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
May 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
بار هستی برایم فراتر از یک کتاب بود
شیفته آثار کهن و کلاسیک بودم و نتوانسته بودم با آثار مدرن ارتباطی برقرار کنم
شاید چون انسان های عصر جدید را نمی فهمیدم
ولی کوندرا در این کتاب مثه یک جراح ماهر،شخصیت ها را کالبد شکافی کرد
و این کتاب یکی از بهترین تجربه های کتابخوانی ام شد

خواندن این کتاب شگفت انگیز نزدیک به چهل روز طول کشید
هرروز نهایتا می توانستم 10 صفحه بخوانم
برای من که آنموقع روزی 50 تا 150 صفحه می خواندنم چیز عجیبی بود
ولی مگر می شد از یه خط براحتی گذشت؟
با اینکه از سبکی تحمل ناپذیر هستی می گفت و
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
Riku Sayuj
Feb 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  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 pe
Fayez Ghazi فايز غازي
- نحن امام كتاب غير تقليدي، ورواية لا تشبه التعريف، فإذا كنت تبحث عن حبكة وعقدة وحل ونتيجة في آخر الرواية، فهذه الرواية لا تنتمي لذلك الصنف ولن تعجبك ابداً.

- شخصيات الرواية اربعة والقارئ خامسهم، يأخذ كونديرا الأربعة، يستعملهم كأدوات لشرح فلسفته في الحياة، يشرّح كل شخصية على حدى، يتمهّل يشرح لك ما حصل من زاوية فلسفية ونفسية ويعاود السرد. الشخصية الخامسة (القارئ) يمكنه الآن ان يتوقف، ان يعيد ما قرأ او ان يتابع الرحلة المجنونة مع كونديرا.

- الخفّة والثقل: ينطلق كونديرا من فكرة نيتشة في العودة الأبدي
Ahmed Oraby
Aug 06, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-read-again
يا إلهي!
ما هذا القئ؟
هذا الرجل عجيب
له القدرة على أن يعطي للسخف والتفاهة هالة من العمق
لم تعجبني أبدًا
هي أسوأ ما قرأت هذا العام بعد روايته الأولى، الجهل
التي أرى أنا فكرتها مكررة هنا أيضًا.
ولكن، علام تدور كل هذه الرواية وسابقتها أيضًا؟
تقريبًا نفس المحاور الرئيسية
أولًا : الحديث عن الحرب
وهنا أقصد حربه التشيك ضد روسيا الشيوعية
يتجلى فيها نقمه الشديد على روسيا والإتحاد السوفييتي
ثانيًا : الحديث عن الكتب
وهو ما كان ظاهرًا في شخص تيريزا
وفي إسم الكلبة كارينين
ثالثًا : الحنين إلى الماضي أو لعنة النوستالجيا
my second year at university, i took a philosophy course for my required humanities credit. this was my first experience with the subject and i realised on the first day of class that my brain is just not hardwired for that level of abstract thinking and processing.

so why, you may ask, did i read about a book that is philosophical in nature?? because i honestly cant get over how poetically beautiful the title is. just something about it resonates so deeply with me.

i dont want to give away the
Jan 20, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Ahmed Ibrahim
"الحنين إلى الجنة إذا هي رغبة الإنسان في ألا يكون إنسانا."

هذه رواية فذّة، متجاوزة، مرعبة، تصدمنا بشكل مباشر في عجز الإنسان ومحدوديته وخوفه من حريته، في تجريده من الأوهام والأصنام الكامنة خلف الكثير من المسميات. رواية تطرح سؤال عصي الإجابة، ليس سؤال واحد بل أسئلة كثيرة. تسير بنا إلى تصور حتمي، حول خفة الوجود الإنساني. "أليس من ذلك بد؟ ليس من ذلك بد." قراءة كونديرا كغيره من الروائيين مزحة كبيرة، لا تقل خفة عن نزوع شخصيات هذه الرواية.

لم ينتهي الحديث هنا، لكن الكلام سيطول ويتفرع إلى ما هو أكبر من مج
It's rare that I come across a title and intuitively tag it as an oxymoron; rarer still, I continue to silently contemplate the space lying between the duo.

Unbearable Lightness. How is lightness, unbearable? Isn’t it the right of heaviness for all I know? But the oxymoron is further granted a neighbor – Being. And that muddles up the equation for good.

What is Being? A floating mass of dissimilar silos, each absorbing and dispersing in surprisingly equal measure to stay afloat? Or a concrete str
Oct 14, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Samra Yusuf
The desire for utopia is the basis of the world's ills, we are too much narcissistic to take life an ingenuous phenomenon, the fear of oblivion has always titillated Man to fancy another life after this one, the failure to cope facts led Man to dwell in highlands of fantasy, and the failure to cope the ratiocination of universe made our earth pregnant with religions so many, all we were to do was to live, to live to the fullest of the moments we have here, and to love, to love those who ceased c ...more
May 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"فقط يكبار زندگى كردن، مانند هرگز زندگى نكردن است."

"خدا مرده است"
اين يكى از مورد بحث ترين نقل قول هاى نيچه ست كه آن را اولين بار در "دانش شادان" مطرح كرد. در واقع، نيچه -كه به گفته ى خودش متعلق به آينده بود و زودتر از موعد به دنيا آمده بود- پيش بينى كرد كه در آينده اى نزديك، انسان اروپايى گرفتار هيچ انگارى و ترديد هايى عميق راجع به موقعيت وجودى اش مى شود و "باور به خدا در ذهنش مى ميمرد و ماوراء الطبيعه ديگر در زندگى او، جايگاهى نخواهد داشت". به دنبال اين اتفاق، نيچه تصميم مى گيرد تا راه چاره اى
Jun 07, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Three hikers are out on a walk, and it starts to rain. Within minutes, they realize that they've been caught in a powerful storm, and they quickly find shelter under a rock overhang. As they are pressed back against the side of the sharp rock, they unknowingly perceive the storm in three very different ways.

Hiker #1 finds the unpredictability of the storm wild, wonderful and erotic. She knows that you can not control nature, nor would she be foolish enough to think that she could understand wha
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.
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
João Barradas
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tudo começou com uma maçã… Não, não estou a falar do mítico pomo do pecado que escorraçou a raça humana para fora do idílico paraíso. Falo antes daquela que, pelo peso associado à sua maturação ou à fraqueza do ramo que a carregava, atingiu a cabeça de Isaac Newton, ofertando-lhe a ideia fulcral que culminou na Lei da Gravidade. É essa força que nos mantém pregados à Terra e impede de flutuarmos eternamente pelo mundo dos sonhos.

Não sei que raio de força me impeliu para esta leitura mas acredito
MJ Nicholls
Nov 20, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  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
Mar 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“In the sunset of dissolution, everything is illuminated by the aura of nostalgia, even the guillotine.”
― Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness Of Being


After hearing last month that the great Slavic translator Michael Henry Heim had died, I thought it was about time to read some Kundera. I enjoyed the concept of ULoB probably better than the actual book (although I still felt the book was exceptional). I certainly have my own issues with both Nietzsche's idea of eternal recurrance and Kundera
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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 for 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 considered translati
“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.” 3123 likes
“When the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to object.” 3101 likes
More quotes…