Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera ****

Before writing about The Unbearable Lightness Of Being by Milan Kundera, a little history lesson is in order. In January 1968, Soviet Russia (aka USSR) satellite Czechoslovakia elected a reform government. Democracy and liberal arts flourished until the country was invaded in August of the same year and totalitarian rule was harshly reinstated.

The author lived through this period of hope followed by despair. Imagine the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) followed 8 months later by tanks rolling into Berlin and all the intervening reforms swiftly reversed. This novel is a dramatic and philosophical telling of the aftermath of this shock.

Published in 1984, this book in an introspective/philosophical novel of life under a totalitarian regime, reminiscent of 1984.

One interesting section is about the etymology of the word compassion. This is fun to think about because the novel was written in Czech, (after the author had escaped to France), and translated to English. In a similar vein, the book includes a section on misunderstood words, such as: woman, music, and parades, also reminiscent of 1984, Newspeak.

In light of current events, this might be a book worth (re)reading.

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