The Unbearable Lightness of Being

If there is any book that I have ever read that has weaved the essence of thought with the moving imagery of the story and in its foam and depth infuse you so strongly to what the author is trying to say in such delicate manners; so fluid and perfect, it has to be The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera has been a unique experience and I was truly blown away by the author’s style of writing.


The Novel is set in Prague, the beautiful capital of the Czech Republic, formerly a part of the Communist Regime of Czechoslovakia. The novel rests in a background of unrest, political turmoil and rebellion and in amidst all the dust, two stories of love and affairs intermingling and weaving down the story. The novel highlights the wake of the USSR and the subsequent invasion of the Slavic countries towards central and Eastern Europe and how this brings on a new life for artists and intellectuals living in these countries and in this context – the Czech Republic.


The prime characters in the novel are Tomas, who is a surgeon, Tereza, his wife, Sabina, the mistress and Franz, Sabina’s lover. The book centers on the concept that “what happens but once, might as well not have happened at all”, which, by logic, leads to the understanding that life is insignificant and that ultimately no decision matters. We all as human beings have a quest within us searching for an awakening of meaning and thus, Kundera includes the word “unbearable” .Kundera is able to analyze and describe the emotions and feelings of the characters so well, that the reader is bound to start thinking and flowing into the stream of thought the author has set.


The movie starts off and ends with Tomas and Tereza in love, and covers their life and their journey. The cocktail emerges as we discover the parallel relationship Tomas has with a woman named Sabina and her journey with another man in Geneva called Franz. The three are caught up with events as tanks and soldiers march the peaceful Czech soil with red flags shadowing their way of lives and expressions’, thus leading to the beautiful narrative Milan Kundera weaves.


I think it is novels such as Kundera’s that bring people to appreciate writing as truly an art and not of its controversies or politics that it provokes. As a writer, Milan Kundera maintains quite an unbiased view and brings into the story, a strong analysis and perspectives you might not come across everyday. When Kundera published the book, he lived in France and in recent years, it was also published in the Czech Republic as it was banned in Czechoslovakia due to the friction it created in the minds of the people who read it and due to the democratic values it cherished.


The Unbearable Lightness of Being gets you “thinking”, a privilege everybody can afford but only a few can provoke and that, ladies and gentlemen, is what I feel is the true spirit of a writer.


Harshavardhan Bhat

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