The Unbearable Lightness of Being


book by Milan Kundera

annotation by Ramona Gonzales

This book was rich with layers. There was a narrative with 3rd person omniscient analysis woven in. In this way, the book in its very construction fell into the motif of light (narrative) and heavy (analysis). The division of the chapters was set up like a palindrome or cycle with misunderstanding stuck right in the middle. There were so many beautiful abstract observations – metaphors are dangerous, readers are “special” for lack of a better word – and so on. As a nonfiction writer who finds it difficult to get “personal” and often gets caught up in concept, I particularly enjoyed this book almost solely on the basis of craft. It didn’t bother me that the narrator sat in a higher place and occasionally judged his creations as they were created solely for the purpose of literally fleshing out Kundera’s theories.

Alternately, the concepts of lightness and heaviness were a little difficult to grasp at times which I assume may have to do with a difference in experience, culture, and sociology. However, I did not get hung up on trying to reconcile the theorizing and the narrative on a first read. Both the right and left brain threads of the novel – the light and the heavy/dark, the yin and yang – were written with a great deal of passion and dedication and truth that each were easy to follow individually. Both pieces were connected and well matched because of that passion as well.

As a writer, what I take away from this novel is the confidence to speak in one’s own voice. Kundera was able to access both parts of his brain, to tap into his masculine and feminine natures in creating his characters, all of which he very much respected. It takes a great deal of time to mine both aspects of one’s psyche. It takes time, focus and dedication, not to mention assurance and faith that someone or a bunch of someones will understand it.

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One thought on “The Unbearable Lightness of Being

  1. I loved this book. Ran out and bought it as soon as i finished reading it. Thanks for your annotation on it – makes me want to pick it up and read it again.

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