Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Unbearable Lightness of Being

The Unbearable Lightness of Being: A Novel

The character Tomas was born out of a situation.
Ever wonder how people meet? It's one of the questions asked of couples. Usually the answer is in a bar. While this is a short summation that would suffice for an answer, it is elaborated upon by the author who seems to bring into question coincidences and fortuities. Tomas's room at the hotel is number 6. She gets off at 6. He calls them the bird of fortuities. Milan uses the image of the birds flying down upon the shoulders of Saint Francis of Assisi. "A single metaphor can give birth to love." These are signs that bless the unions, the more the better. And to not notice such details is to miss out on one of the pleasures of life. It is a great romance. He is an unfaithful womanizer. She, Teraza, is a provincial girl, naive, almost a pure maiden. How is she able to capture his heart so thoroughly and yet be tortured at the same time by his infidelities? Milan talks about compassion and how heavy it weighs into the heart of Tomas. "for there is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one's own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes." He has compassion for Tereza. His lightness has left. His womanizing and his infidelities are his lightness. They are Tereza's heaviness. The characters make choices. And because they only have one life, this choice is difficult. "We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come." So Here is where Milan disagrees with the Eternal Return idea that says everything has already occur. Milan brings up Nietzsche's idea of the Eternal Return in the beginning. Some say that he spends the rest of the book defending this thesis. I think it's an academic outlook. And to come into the book with this perspective misses a lot of the other insights, insights into women, the heart, and relationship between the two. Fortunately, unlike life, one can re read a book.

Milan brings in Anna Karenina and looks at the symmetry of how Ann first met Vronsky at the train track. Someone was killed, run over by a train. The irony is that Anna commits suicide by throwing herself on a train track.

Tomas wrote about Oedipus Rex comparing Oedipex to the communist of his country.

Milan likes to bring up these references. His presence is always seems to be in the background of the narrative. So there are philosophical ponderings peppered through out the novel.

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