The Unbearable Lightness of Being – A Review

“Making love with a woman and sleeping with a woman are two separate passions, not merely different but opposite. Love does not make itself felt in the desire for copulation (a desire that extends to an infinite number of women) but in the desire for shared sleep (a desire limited to one woman).”

The Unbearable Lightness of Being was set before the Soviet invasion of then Czechoslovakia, during the occupation and after. The novel has been made into a film in 1988, which starred Daniel Day Lewis as Tomas. However, the author expressed his disappointment of the film and had said that it did not depict the novel’s spirit.

Having just come from a bad breakup caused by cheating (the other party, not me), I was bit put off by Milan Kundera’s book as its protagonist, Tomas, was a person who loved to hop from one bed to another.

Although he had loyal Teresa by his side he still found it necessary to copulate with all women he had the chance to. It didn’t matter who and when, if the chance presented itself, you can rely on Tomas to never let an opportunity pass him by. Perhaps, this is something which I will never understand with cheaters, but I digress. Back to the book.

Tomas, an intellect and a well-known surgeon loses his position in the country’s top hospital because of his letter to a leading publication that likened Czech communists to Oedipus. He and his young wife, Teresa, move to Geneva where he quickly resumes his womanising ways and has sex with many women. Teresa, although she knows her husband’s infidelity, stands by him but is later fed up and moves back to Prague and Tomas quickly follows her there.

I felt a wave of emotion while I was reading the novel. I will never quite understand why some women would choose to stand by their men even if they knew that these men were not being honest with them; even though they fully know that their men had girls on the side.

I know how it fells to be cheated on and it is the worst kind of feeling in the world. It makes you ask questions, hard and stupid questions. What does she have that I don’t? Did I do something which made him cheat? Am I not enough? These questions will never have answers but I do know one thing, it is never your fault. It is the cheater’s fault. This is something that people who have been cheated on needs to understand. If I could knock some sense into Teresa, I would so she would leave Tomas for good. I guess there are just some men who are never satisfied and there is just no excuse for them, except for the fact that they are douchebags.

Although the novel had some political tones and what life was like during the occupation, all I could focus on was the dynamics between Tomas, his wife Teresa, his mistress Sabina and his estranged son from an earlier marriage. Simon.

In the novel, after all his womanising, Tomas comes to the realisation that all he ever wanted in his life was Teresa, and he still got his happy ending with her by his side. Well I question the fact that Tomas still gets his happy ending even with his ways. However, there are some people who will just never know that they have a very good thing even though it is staring them right in the face. I guess I will never have Teresa’s patience and giving nature.


3 thoughts on “The Unbearable Lightness of Being – A Review

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      1. Yessss! Okay actually I bought it for my boyfriend (now ex) but ended up reading it several times myself. I like the way he describes things, it is poetic yet matter-of-factly. He doesn’t cut the sharp edges of reality away.
        I am working in Munich now, but longing for something I don’t have or know (traveling full time instead of short pockets of holidays).
        What about you?? How have you been?


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