Tuesday, 16 October 2012

forty-eight.

the Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera (1984)

  “Chance and chance alone has a message for us. Everything that occurs out of necessity, everything expected, repeated day in and day out, is mute. Only chance can speak to us.”

Tomas met Tereza by chance and they quickly moved in together. But despite his love for Tereza he continues being a womaniser. When the Soviet Union invades in 1968, they move to Switzerland, but his mistress, Sabina, is there too. Tereza knows about Tomas' infidelities, but she is too much in love to leave and instead has horrible nightmares about competing with his mistresses.

I have had this book for years, but have ignored it for so long because I thought it would be too philosophical and difficult. The beginning, with all the Nietzsche and philosophy stuff, was indeed hard to grasp, but then it improved. Kundera has this great witty style of writing which is really enjoyable. With the Soviet invasion as the background, it has an important historical aspect as well and I don't think I have ever got such a clear picture of communism from any other sources.

Karenin, the bitch which Tomas got Tereza so she wouldn't be so lonely, is named after Anna Karenina's husband, and I really liked the references to that book and especially because I have finally read it. Karenin is an important character and her death (after a long life) was perhaps the saddest part.

“She loved to walk down the street with a book under her arm. It differentiated her from the others.” 

 

6 comments:

  1. Hear Hear.
    I also read a Kunderabook and I am still not sure I understood it. I liked it. Liked the writing, style and the message I think he is trying to convey - only there is a enormous chance mentioned message is completely misunderstood.
    The book I read was The Farewell Party.

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    1. He's probably too philosophical for us! I want to read the Book of Laughter and Forgetting some time in the future.

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  2. Åh.. den har allefall DEN fineste tittelen.. Joy! og er det den som er film... ? (googlepause...) jaa.. og filmen var jo fin, også, om jeg ikke husker feil.. lang, og fin..) Kanskje jeg skulle våge meg på en norsk oversettelse.... Leser for øyeblikket på engelsk (Lolita av Nabakov - ekkelt og pedofilt), og det går så tregt, kommer jo aldri til å rekke å lese flere bøker på denne måten.

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    1. Sånn språkmessig var den ikke så vanskelig, men den er vanskelig sånn innholdsmessig, eller kanskje det bare er jeg som ikke forstår sånne abstrakte ting som filosofi. Lolita prøvde jeg meg på for mange år siden, men avbrøt. Må få den til en gang!

      Ps. Minn meg på at vi skal innom fretex i gata når jeg kommer :)

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  3. i've been told a million times to read this and i just haven't. i hope i get to it someday!

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    Replies
    1. You should! I'm eagerly waiting for the Book of Laughter and Forgetting arrives so I can read that.

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