Madeline's Reviews > The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
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Jul 13, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: 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 telling the story, and even then his own voice darts in and out of the story, interjecting his own opinion into the plot. It's like trying to watch a movie with the director's commentary playing in the background - all you can think is, "shut up and let me watch the movie in peace!" I also thought he was trying way too hard to be a Critically Acclaimed Author; for example: "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."

Um...sure. Why not.

But once he decides to relax a little and actually tell a coherent story, it becomes really engrossing. I was never crazy about Tomas and Tereza, who love each other despite the fact that Tomas is a selfish man-whore (Kundera phrased it more poetically, but that's basically the truth), but I think I understood them. Also, the last 50-some pages of the book were AMAZING, made me cry, and are the reason this book gets four stars instead of three.

"We can never know what we want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come."
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
July 13, 2008 – Shelved
July 13, 2008 – Shelved as: the-list

Comments (showing 1-15 of 15) (15 new)

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message 1: by Jeff (new)

Jeff interesting that you loved the last 50 pages, but the quotation come early in the book. i'm at chapter 10, but hope the first 2 chapters pay off. also, this movie and i seem to dig each other. enjoyed the commentary whether i think it is a 5 star or a 2 star. take it easy


Gemma when judging the "pretention" of the title one ought to consider that is a translation from Czech therefore not to be taken 100% literally in English.


Anthony what gemma said. plus i think dave eggers actually holds that title. imagine having to say "a heartbreaking work of staggering genius" every time someone asked what you were reading. might notice a general increase in cold stares if you decide to pick that one up.


message 4: by Brandi (new) - added it

Brandi i loved your review, Madeline. I feel like it's much more realistic and honest than these other reviews. Thanks for keeping it real, despite what other people say.


message 5: by Kunal (new) - added it

Kunal "Tomas is a selfish man-whore (Kundera phrased it more poetically, but that's basically the truth)"

You've hit the nail. I'm a fan already :)


Cynthia OK, NOW I see why the ending made you cry.


Madeline Like a goddamn baby.


Muppet You've given me hope. I was about to finish at 56% because I just couldn't take it anymore. But maybe something interesting and touching WILL happen in the end...


William Thomas Have you forgotten about the title "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius"?


message 10: by Alex (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alex Nice concise review, especially your summary of Tomas!


Carolina Martin good one williams! jajajaja


María Paz Greene F LOVED IT.


Roohi Syed I have reached part 2 of the book and I was about to give up on this book just now and I landed on your review. I think I will finish it now!


message 14: by Ana (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ana Ruiz Your reviews are always perfection <3


message 15: by Noina (new) - rated it 1 star

Noina Ha I love this review !! I've just started this book and thought I was gonna give it up if it was all like the first chapters. I'm glad it isn't because it seemed hella pretentious to me... I love how you said "Chill. Out." haha


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