A Book Review on The Unbearable Lightness of Being

This essay has a total of 1986 words and 14 pages.

A Book Review on The Unbearable Lightness of Being



A Book
Review
on

The
Unbearable
Lightness
Of
Being

A Novel

Milan Kundera


Plot

This International Bestseller is about a young woman in love with a man torn between his
love for her and his incorrigible womanizing; one of his mistresses and her humble
faithful lover – these are the two couples whose story is told in this masterful novel. In
a world in which lives are shaped by irrevocable choices and by fortuitous events, a world
in which everything occurs but once, existence seems to lose its substance, its weight.
Hence, we feel “the unbearable lightness of being” not only as the consequence of our
private actions, but also in the public sphere, and the two inevitably intertwine.

This novel revolves around the idea of eternal return as “a perspective from which things
appear other than as we know them: without mitigating circumstance of their transitory
nature.” Nietzsche says that a life that is only lived once means nothing.

Nietzsche called the idea of eternal return the heaviest of burdens.
But is lightness splendid and heaviness deplorable? The heaviest of burdens sinks us,
crushes us, and pins us to the ground. But in “the love poetry of every age, the woman
longs to be weighed down by the man’s body.” A woman would rather be burdened by the pains
a man brings her than to live without any burden at all due to the absence of love.

The heaviest of burdens is an image of life’s most intense fulfillment. The heavier the
burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become.
Having completely no burden would be considered an illusion if ever it is at all possible.

The absolute absence of burden causes man to be lighter than air, take leave of the earth,
and become only half real, his movements are free as they are insignificant. What is the
use of a life without any burdens and trials to learn from? It is through these burdens
that we shall find out purpose in life.

WHAT THEN SHALL WE CHOOSE? LIGHTNESS OR WEIGHT?
Life is a sketch. We do not have basis from which to compare situations because we only live once.













Characters
TOMAS:

A doctor, a divorcee, and a womanizer, Tomas feared and desired women that he kept erotic
friendships to exclude love from his life. He abided by the “rule of threes”: seeing a
woman in three consecutive times, or maintaining relationships over the years but making
sure that rendezvous are three weeks apart.” If Tomas violates this, his mistresses would
assume inferior status and demand more from him.

Tomas is an insomniac who could not sleep beside another person. After making love with
one of his mistresses, he would bring her back home (if they were at Tomas’ flat) or he
would go back home (if they were in the mistress’ home).


TEREZA:
A waitress in a hotel restaurant in a small Czech town. Tereza came to Prague to escape
her mother’s world. Her mother was beautiful and a lot of men courted her. Consequently,
she was impregnated by the most “manly” of her suitors.

She eventually regretted this because the man turned out to by a lazy sloth. She blamed Tereza for this.
Tereza always thought that her body was special and that that is not the same for anybody
else’s body. Hence, there is no duality of soul and body (soul and body can never be
separated). However, her mother thought otherwise. Her mother thought that each and every
“body” is the same.


SABINA:
Tomas’ favorite lover, Sabina is a painter from Geneva. With her, Tomas could fulfill his
fantasies. Together, they enjoyed erotic rendezvous each of which had been an opportunity
to think up some new little vice and some new little game they would play.

*Sabina was only mentioned in three chapters. This signifies that her life was “very
light” and is not worth mentioning; did not make any impression on anybody’s life.
















Setting


The story is set in a Prague. The main character, Tomas, lives in a flat across a
courtyard at the opposite walls. The setting shifts from Prague to a small Czech
provincial town where Tomas and Tereza, his love interest, met. A part of this beautiful




















Summary


Tomas had met Tereza in a hotel restaurant where she worked located in a small Czech town.
They had spent scarcely an hour together. Ten days later, Tereza paid Tomas a visit in
Prague. When Tereza left for Prague, she phoned Tomas to pick her up. She brought her
heavy luggage into Tomas’ flat (indicating that Tereza would be a burden to him). Tomas
checked her into a small hotel where she stayed during her visit. Eventually, they made
love in Tomas’ flat and surprisingly, Tomas slept with Tereza beside her which he usually
can’t do with her other lovers. He felt love for Tereza and so they got married. It was w
whirlwind romance between them but Tomas realized that he couldn’t live without her and
that he wanted to die beside her.

Despite of this, Tomas continued his erotic friendships. He then concluded that love does
not make itself felt in the desire of copulation (a desire that extends to numerous women)
but in the desire of shared sleep (a desire that is limited only to one woman).

Continues for 7 more pages >>




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