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book discussions > August 2014 - The Unbearable Lightness of Being SPOILERS

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message 1: by Mercedes (new)

Mercedes (mercysbookishmusings) | 103 comments Mod
Hey guys,

I hope you're all excited for this month's read along!! Please feel free to use this space for any thoughts on the book - I look forward to chatting with you all about it :)

message 2: by Mercedes (new)

Mercedes (mercysbookishmusings) | 103 comments Mod
So I started reading a couple of hours ago and am surprised by how quick a read this book is. I've managed to get up to part four. I think the shirt chapters really help as it's so easy to just think "I may as well read the next one".

My thoughts so far:

The characters are all unlikeable and I feel no concern as to how their stories will end. But I don't know if you're supposed to really? I mean although in one sense the tone of the book is very serious and thoughtful in another way it's entirely comical and ridiculous. Or do I just have a weird sense of humour?

The narrative flow - So the book plays with time a lot in the sense that in part one Tomas jumps ahead at explaining certain things but then goes back to the chronological order for the rest. Then the fact that we get the whole story told again from Tereza's point of view. I think this works well in the sense that it highlights what was described in the first chapter about eternal return. It almost makes you feel that everything is happening at once over and over.

I've heard Milan Kundera is known for being an author if magical realism and even though nothing fantastical has happened thus far in this book I can still see it in his style. The reader is spoken to directly and at one oping aromas and Tereza's are called characters. As though we are to understand that it is all just a story.

So there's some of my rambling thoughts. What do you think? Are you finding it a quick read? Do you like the characters? If so who do you like most? Do you like the writing style?

message 3: by Mercedes (new)

Mercedes (mercysbookishmusings) | 103 comments Mod
*at one point Tomas and Tereza are called characters

message 4: by Tanya (new)

Tanya (trickytanya) | 1 comments Mercedes wrote: "So I started reading a couple of hours ago and am surprised by how quick a read this book is. I've managed to get up to part four. I think the shirt chapters really help as it's so easy to just thi..."
I've read first two parts so far and it was easy and quick and then I started noticing repetitions and I even check a few times if pages were all in order and well printed. It was interesting for a while, and I could see why he was doing it, but I got a bit bored. It jumps back and forth from brilliant to tedious.

message 5: by Pedro (new)

Pedro (dusksong) | 2 comments I've read The Unbearable Lightness of Being a while ago now but I loved it. I think it ought to be seen as philosophical essay instead of a novel, with a weak plot serving as backbone and breathing gap to fuse together Kundera's outstandingly written ramblings as he plays around Nietzsche's theory of eternal return and its significance for human existence.
Also, the book must also be viewed within the historical context of Czechoslovakia upheaval in 1968 and the then forthcoming Prague Spring. The concept of kunderian kitsch, as a banalizing and enforced system to suppress the automatic perception of insufficiency takes special importance in the form of the communist regime, whose anthems, songs and rituals attempt to mask the horrors and perpetuate the violations that plagued an uprising people.
Anyway, what truly sold the book to me was the writing. Passages like the Son of Stalin and the Great March are just some of the examples of Kundera's supreme writing skills and enviable capacity for evocation. Also, I have a thing for existentialism.

message 6: by Angie (new)

Angie (bookaddictang) I agree with all the comments so far. Honestly, from the start it seemed to me that all this book is is sex and philosophy. I do. not like this novel, however, I do see how the style and point of it is more philosophical than plot, which is what's intriguing. I just got to the part about Stalin's Son and that's where I needed to take a breather because it honestly sounds and this point like this Part of the book is an interlude or really where it all comes together, the importance of kitsch(sp) and how Russian propaganda and envision slowly takes over the Czech peoples lives. It'll be interesting to see how this book concludes.

message 7: by Manno (new)

Manno (dilettanteartiste) | 1 comments I finally decided to pick this up 4 years later! I did try to read it when I bought it --I was quite young back then-- and didn't get anything and I abandoned it. Until you guys decided to read it and thought I'd tag along!

Coincidentally, a friend of mine quoted it on Twitter and when I said it's the book I'm reading right now, she declared it one of her favourite books.

I don't quite see why though. It's a weird book. Some of the chapters were wonderful and so stylistically beautiful! Others are boring and all about sex and relationships and I just can't get myself to care.

On the bright side, my friend says it wraps up beautifully, so let's see. If I ever get to the end anyway. I'm still starting part 3.

message 8: by Mercedes (new)

Mercedes (mercysbookishmusings) | 103 comments Mod
I've now finished the book and I can honestly say it didn't really do it for me. I know loads of people live it and I think maybe I just didn't fully understand it. I think had I understood the politics and history more I could of got more out of it.

I found all the characters really flat and unbelievable and didn't care about how their story ended. I can acknowledge the book is well written but I just didn't find it interesting or engaging.

message 9: by Mercedes (new)

Mercedes (mercysbookishmusings) | 103 comments Mod

message 10: by Angie (last edited Aug 17, 2014 03:32PM) (new)

Angie (bookaddictang) I finished as well, and I agree with Mercedes, this book wasn't all that great to me. I felt like the part that was written really well was Part 6, The Grand March. It seemed to me that this is the purpose of the book, to show all the Kitsch in the world, and in their (the characters') lives. However, that didn't excuse how poor the writing seemed to be. I think if Kundera had like, summarized the characters lives and what not and then had Part 6 and have it end there it would have been a lot better.

message 11: by J A M I E (new)

J A M I E (cuttingyourownbangs) | 5 comments I've tried reading this book at least half-a-dozen times since high school (including once again this week) and I just can't do it, dudes. I hate Kundera's prose; it's spartan and pretentious and reads like the screenplay to Closely Watched Trains if it had been written by Jean Paul Sartre . . . were Sartre a precocious twelve year old. Furthermore, his characters are unlikable to the point that I become completely disengaged from the narrative-- I just don't care what happens to them. Soz, guys. :-/

message 12: by Peony (new)

Peony (peony79) | 5 comments I read this book in my twenties (more than 10 years ago :D) and I have to say I didn't like it. When I said that aloud people told me I didn't understand it and the philosophy in it. I didn't agree..actually I felt Kundera explained/analyzed his own story too much. And the story just didn't do much for me. Only thing that moved me was the part where the dog died :( But I wasn't wowed by the smartness/philosophy of the book. I might have been interested to read an essey by Kundera of the philosophy and leave out the story...or just take the story and make something more with it... And leave the philosophy in the subtext for those people to understand who are interested.

Maybe I should read this again this month if I find a copy in my library on my next visit there. Maybe things would feel different 10 years after.

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