Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Lightness and Heaviness

The Unbearable Lightness of Being
by Milan Kundera

How often do you find a novel starting with a discussion of Nietzsche's idea of eternal return? This is how Milan Kundera's novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, begins, and it becomes more complex and interesting as the novel continues into a tale of loves and lovers set against the background of Communist Czechoslovakia in the days before the fall of the iron curtain. Particularly important is the contrast of lightness and heaviness of this life as we ponder the nature of fortuity and fate in the lives of the characters. As always with Kundera, music and literature play an important role in the development of the themes with references to Beethoven's last quartets, the nature of fate as informed by Oedipus, and a pet dog named Karenin. It all comes together in the countryside as we see Tomas, the Doctor, give up his profession for love or for his principles, or for both. Challenging the reader, this author has created a puzzle of a book that is a delight to the reader who cherishes the world of ideas and their meaning for man.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera. 1984, Harper and Row, New York.

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