Like many, I first read The Unbearable Lightness of Being in the 1980s. And like most, I loved it then. And what was there not to love? It mixed sex, politics and philosophy in a way that was light years removed from the hand-wringing sensitivities of much of the literature in the 1970s. Instead, it was sharp, contemporary, urbane and in tune with the gritty final years of the Cold War where Prague was a hip place on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain.
Kundera, the Czech émigré who started out with darkly satirical novels lampooning the communist regime (The Joke, for example) artistically came into his own after being forced to leave his country. In the last decade of the Cold War he published the three novels that defined him as a writer: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Immortality. His enduring fame, though, rests squarely with the second on this list, no doubt helped along by the 1988 movie of the same name staring Daniel Day Lewis and Juliette Binoche. Continue reading “The Emperor’s Old Clothes: Revisiting The Unbearable Lightness of Being”