A Light Introduction

::Wednesday, May 15, 2002::

:: A Light Introduction ::

What follows is not a review of The Unbearable Lightness of Being. It is, rather, an exploration of some of the ideas Kundera develops in his novel. If you plan on reading the novel, and I personally recommend it , it’s best to go away for a few days and come back later to see if my perception of the novel matches your perceptions. It’s impossible to discuss themes without revealing plot details that may well interfere with you enjoyment of the novel.

Surprisingly enough, despite the fact that Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being begins with a quotation from Nietzsche, despite the fact that it often reads more like a philosophy lecture than a novel, and despite the fact that the author states on page 39 that “It would be senseless for the author to try to convince the reader that his characters once actually lived,” I ended up very much enjoying this “novel of ideas,” as Newsweek reviewer Jim Miller calls it.

Maybe I liked it so much because it reminds me in one way or another of some of my favorite books .

It reminded me of Faulkner’s classic The Sound and The Fury because it emphasizes multiple perspectives and the reader, like the characters in the novel, are never quite sure how to view any single event that takes place in the novel.

It reminded me of Camus’ The Stranger, where events happen to characters without they, or the reader, having the slightest idea why the events have happened.

It reminded me of Heller’s Catch-22 where everything seems to be a Catch-22 and nothing every turns out quite the way you expect it to.

Most of all, though, I liked it because it was so different from any novel I have ever read. I still don’t know if I’ve read a novel or a philosophy text, but I don’t really care too much because it kept me interested and it kept me thinking. Despite Rageboy’s rant, looking for “the truth,” even if you never find it, can be fun.

Diane and I’ll will try to tell you what we’re thinking in the next few days. Hopefully it will have something to do with what Kundera thinks, though I can’t necessarily guarantee that. At least you can rest assured that "Diane" and "Loren" are not invented characters; we are, at least temporarily, “real” people who are trying to make sense out of a world that probably was never meant to make sense.