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The Unbearable Lightness of Being

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4.11  ·  Rating details ·  411,492 ratings  ·  20,147 reviews
In The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera tells the story of a young woman in love with a man torn between his love for her and his incorrigible womanizing and one of his mistresses and her humbly faithful lover. This magnificent novel juxtaposes geographically distant places, brilliant and playful reflections, and a variety of styles, to take its place as perhap ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 27th 2009 by Harper Perennial (first published 1984)
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Nathalie Gagnon He's the best. I enjoy philosophy amd psychology and this guy is a genious... If this is now your favourite then read everything he wrote...
He might …more
He's the best. I enjoy philosophy amd psychology and this guy is a genious... If this is now your favourite then read everything he wrote...
He might even surprise you some more :). I really liked Slowness, Ignorance and The Book of Laughter and Forgetting.
Virgil Gheorghiu wrote a book called La Vingt-Cinquième Heure (The 25th Hour?) which is also pretty close... You might like it.(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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Average rating 4.11  · 
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 ·  411,492 ratings  ·  20,147 reviews


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J
Jun 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Ben
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
Lyn
Nov 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Amy Reed
Jan 06, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Megha
Jun 20, 2010 rated it liked it
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
...more
Becky
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
Ahmad Sharabiani
(Book 256 From 1001 Books) - Nesnesitelná lehkost bytí = L’insoutenable légèreté de l’être = The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera

The Unbearable Lightness of Being 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.

From the book: “The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of burden causes man to be light
...more
Madeline
Jul 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Nathan
Sep 14, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Adina
Milan Kundera’s book was the first title I added to Goodreads back in 2013. Despite that, it took me a while to finally read it. I guess I was a bit afraid that the philosophy dense prose will be too much for me without background in this subject. I needn’t had worried as I enjoyed most of it and I did not feell overwhelmed.

“We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can either compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come”

I believe that Kundera’s
...more
emma
turns out an unbearable lightness and an unsustainable heaviness aren't that different, after all.

anyway, this book is whip-smart and brain-expanding, a real pleasure to read. i don't even want to get into it - i'd prefer the pleasure stand on its own.

if you like feeling smart, working hard for your books, philosophical vibes, or books with cool titles...read this please!

bottom line: a book that speaks enough for itself!

------------------
currently-reading updates

and the Greatest Title Of All Tim
...more
Weinz
Jan 20, 2010 rated it it was ok
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.
Riku Sayuj

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
...more
Violet wells
Feb 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faves
Broadly speaking the power source motoring this novel is the battle between arguably the two most fundamental and often conflictual drives in the human psyche - the desire for commitment and the desire for freedom. Commitment Kundera classes as heaviness; freedom as lightness. "When we want to give expression to a dramatic situation in our lives, we tend to use metaphors of heaviness. We say that something has become a great burden to us. We either bear the burden or fail and go down with it, we ...more
Baba
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of 2 men, 2 women and a dog, during and after the 1968 Prague Spring, in what was then Czechoslovakia. It's also about challenging Friedrich Nietzsche's eternal recurrence concepts, by countering (in this story) that each of us, has but one unique life to live - i.e. the lightness of being. So note, that there is a fair bit of philosophical wanderings, especially in the second half of the book. The "unbearable lightness" also refers to Kundera's portrayal of love being transien ...more
Steven Godin
Seems odd that I'd read Kundera seven times previously and one of those seven books was not The Unbearable Lightness of Being. But for whatever reason that's the way it went down. All I can say is that it was worth the wait. I simply loved Immortality, Laughable Loves too, and this was every bit as good. If anything, I found it even better.
Before I even started reading I pondered over this cover. I knew as little as possible about the novel previously. Other than Prague, sex, and a dog featured
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
(Book 256 From 1001 Books) - Nesnesitelná lehkost bytí = L’insoutenable légèreté de l’être = The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera

The Unbearable Lightness of Being 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.

From the book: “The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of burden causes man to be lighte
...more
Robin
Oct 14, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Julie G
Aug 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 80-from-the-80s
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
...more
jessica
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
...more
Luís
The wisdom of uncertainty.
This novel's definition had stated to Kundera during its work opening this monument of 20th-century literature. Man has only one life, and the weight of his choices is matched only by the lightness of his existence. Impossible to rewind his life and know what would have been the course of his story if he had taken other paths. To endure this impasse and not whip up eternal regrets, we might as well accept life as it comes.
The story is well known, but you might as well r
...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Aug 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: czechoslovakia
”It is wrong, then ,to chide the novel for being fascinated by mysterious coincidences (like the meeting of Anna, Vronsky, the railway station, and death or the meeting of Beethoven, Tomas, Tereza, and the cognac), but it is right to chide man for being blind to such coincidences in his daily life. For he thereby deprives his life of a dimension of beauty.”

 photo Unbearable Lightness of Being_zpsq7j2loh5.jpg

We all have odd, wonderful, and disastrous things happen to us that make us believe that, as mysterious as life is, there are still times
...more
Seemita
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
...more
Kenny
Jan 15, 2022 rated it it was amazing
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.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being ~~ Milan Kundera


1
Buddy Read with Dani

Random thought ... this is the most European novel I've ever read.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being is a book I have be
...more
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
Samadrita
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.
I
...more
dirt
Jun 07, 2007 rated it liked it
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
MJ Nicholls
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
Mentyrosa
Mar 05, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
There are many unbearable things in this book, none of them having to do with the lightness of being. The unbearable misogyny of this book. The unbearable self-importance of this book. I have read this book two or three times because people around me love it, and every time I get the sense that it was written by either a fifteen-year old boy or a narcissistic sociopath with a real knack for language. there is something really comic about the book (which is made incredibly obvious if you ever dec ...more
Chloe
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
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15,598 followers
People best know Czech-born writer Milan Kundera for his novels, including The Joke (1967), The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (1979), and The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984), all of which exhibit his extreme though often comical skepticism.

Since 1975, he lived in exile in France and in 1981 as a naturalized citizen.

Kundera wrote in Czech and French. He revises the French trans
...more

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“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.” 3630 likes
“When the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to object.” 3312 likes
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