The Unbearable Lightness of Being

When I started this book a while back (loong while, but it kept getting interrupted by other readings) I had promised Nerro a book review.

Overall I liked the book. Partially because of the simplicity of the underlying plot and partially for the beauty of the translation. I realize the book was not originally written in English, but it remains for the beauty of its construction, an homage to language.

The story covers the lives and interactions of four main characters and a dog 🙂 Each time resetting to tell you the same tale from the perspective of a different hero or heroine, painting the reality their shade of perception.

My only reservation is that the author himself obviously has strong political views, they at times felt imposed onto the book. Otherwise the book was very reflective of a cultured and diverse author. One with profound takes on philosophy, humanity, art and music and relationships.

I emerged with a lot of pencil markings of paragraphs I wanted to share with you:

Anyone whose goal is “something higher” must expect some day to suffer vertigo. What is vertigo? Fear of falling? Then why do we feel it even when the observation tower comes equipped with a sturdy handrail? No, vertigo is something other than the fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us whit tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which terrified, we defend ourselves.

Indeed, the only truly serious questions are ones that even a child can formulate. Only the most naive of questions are truly serious. They are the questions with no answers. A question with no answer is a barrier that cannot be breached. In other words, it is questions with no answers that set the limit of human possibilities, describe the boundaries of human existence.

Anyone who thinks that the Communist regimes of Central Europe are exclusively the work of criminals is overlooking a basic truth: the criminal regimes were made not by criminals but by enthusiasts convinced they had discovered the only road to paradise. They defended that road so valiantly that they were forced to execute many people. Later it became clear that there was no paradise, that the enthusiasts were therefore murderers.

The characters in my novels are my own unrealized possibilities. That is why I am equally fond of them all and equally horrified by them. Each one has crossed a border that I myself have circumvented.

That last one, I couldn’t agree more. If you want a book with a lot of action to waste time and burn daylight reading, this is definitely NOT the book for you. If you want an excuse to think, experience Beethoven, art, politics, mid-century Europe and an innovative take on philosophy and humanity, I believe you will enjoy it.

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One thought on “The Unbearable Lightness of Being

  1. Pingback: Summer Reads « Ramblings of the Disoriented Mind

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