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It wasn't until a quiet Sunday afternoon when I decided to spend some time on our family mini-library, that I came across this beautiful work of art by Milan Kundera. The Unbearable Lightness of Being is the most recent novel I have completed, and even though I began reading it by mere accident, I fell in love with it because it left me with new and updated standards and beliefs about love, lust and relationships.

The novel's main plot is basic: a woman finds herself torn and confused with loving a man who has incredible love for her, and notorious womanizing habits. Set in 60's Prague, the novel also takes us to numerous geographic locations at different times. 

Kundera begins the book with what became one of my favorite introductions to a fictional book. The following is an extract taken from part one 'Lightness and Weight':

"The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground. But in love poetry of every age, the woman longs to be weighed down by the man's body.The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously 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. Conversely, the absolute absence of burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant. What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?"

From the very beginning, Kundera takes us to a reflective journey, forcing us to re-evaluate our own lives, choices and whether we lead light or heavy paths.

The author does this by the extensive portrayal of the characters internal side: their thoughts, confusion, and internal struggles. As a woman, there has been numerous parts of the novel where I can relate to the female characters. I recall one particular scene where I was filled with compassion (another theme also discussed beautifully in the novel) towards the woman - Tereza - who is in love with a man - Tomas - known for womanizing habits. It was a part of the novel where Tereza was emotionally drained due to her husband's incorrigible womanizing. The author placed her in front of a mirror, and showcased her self-loathing thoughts of body shaming and 'disappointment' in her body that could not make the love of her life commit to only her body, and her body alone. As a woman - although thankfully I have never experienced such emotionally abusive relationship before - I was able to relate to her thoughts, and understand her point of view and why she would feel that way.

This book is original and extremely tasteful in terms of reflection, character evolution and discussion of feelings. It opened my eyes to how I personally define many emotions such as compassion, love and lust. It has certainly reshaped many values and standards I live by, and directed my thoughts to a new circle of mixed feelings.



To put this into simple words: I am glad that I decided to check some of our old family books on a quiet, boring Sunday afternoon. I can assure you that there is something to learn and remember from each page of this novel.