Context: Finished this as we prepared to do some car-boot sales to get rid of stuff prior to moving to PNG.
My second Kundera novel after The Book of Laughter and Forgetting and this was certainly an improvement on that, not that I thought that was hard. There are writers who embed their philosophies in narratives they create. Then there are writers, like Kundera, who embed their narratives in philosophies they create.
I can’t say I enjoyed this book. But, like herbal tea or broad beans, you’re supposed to read it if you want to grow up big and strong in the literary world. That’s not to say I hated it or felt like I hadn’t got a clue what was going on (which I kind of did with Laughter), but it’s not really a novel. It’s more of a description interspersed with thoughtful musings some of which (see below) are great.
But the guy is preoccupied with sex. Everyone sleeps with everyone else. It’s bonkers – quite literally. The other book was the same. The guy must have a Freudian bent (there was a quote from Freud on the frontispiece) because he seems to think that this is fundamental to all relationships. Perhaps he’s confused in this department which would explain it.
At times, I realised that the style must have influence Alain de Botton and, if any of you have read his works, you’ll know what I mean.
Don’t think I grasped what is so unbearably light about being either. Perhaps it was, Ecclesiastes-like, the ephemeral nature of us all. Perhaps it was something else. And, if it is light, quite why it might be unbearable eluded me too, poor miserable thickhead that I am.
Ah well, it’s worth a read for the way Kundera views life and more so, I feel, for the portrait it paints of life under the communist regimes that scarred Czechoslovakia. But I won’t want to read more of him for the time being.
The idea of eternal return is a mysterious one, and Nietzsche has often perplexed other philosophers with it: to think that everything recurs as we once experienced it, and that the recurrence itself recurs ad infinitum!
The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become
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)
Being in a foreign country means walking a tightrope high above the ground without the safety net offered a person by the country where he has family, colleagues, and friends, and where he can easily say what he has to say in a language he has known from childhood.
The strains of the piano and violin rose up weakly from below.
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