‘The absolute absence of weight makes the man to become lighter in the air, to fly higher, distance from the Earth, from his earthy being, that is real only in half and his movements are as free as they are insignificant’ [my own translation]
Milan Kundera loves Nietzsche. He loves his country, Czech Republic, he loves Prague. He speaks with great sadness of the communists times that swelled the ‘before’ of his country to turn it into a group of people with fear. But it also rescues the long-lasting and stubborn braveness of his fellow countrymen who didn’t get drown by the regime despite the consequences. Tomas, the protagonist of this story, was one of them. Tomas scaped to Europe but returned because he could not stand the solitude without Tereza, who went back to Prague tired of his infidelities. Others were more strategic. They migrated for good to Europe, right in the moment they could have done it, leaving the ‘Kitsch’, the communist dream, behind. In Czech Republic the citizens only ambition mundane things. Be born, grow up, fall in love, have children and die. There is no more aspiration that living in this utopia.
Kundera thinks constantly in romantic love. In sex. In couples. His character, Tomas, cannot and would not stop having dozens of lovers. He does this all the years he lives with Tereza, whom he says he loves. It is a dominant and inequal relationship. I had trouble understanding him, and the other male characters of the book. The women of this story turn around these men with their toxic masculinity. They go here and there, crashing others emotions and expectations, leaving a child without a father, with no personal or social recrimination. At the same time, these men have a lot of solidarity with their own communities through their professions. They are contradictory. I suppose this is what the author wanted to show, the duality in human beings, the social differences between men and women that have always existed. Kundera does not judge his characters. He simply puts them in the reader’s hands to see back and forward their complex personalities. To the reader, differently from the author, it would be hard to not judge that duality.
This is a mind-bending book. In all the sense of the word. Because there is nothing more beautiful that a writer who explains life, a country, the human being and the lightness of the being with his own philosophy. Kundera’s thoughts are reflected in this book with the stocks of this philosophy all over the pages. This is how he tell us about his own past and the past of his country. His characters can be peeled like a mandarin skin. Their personalities start enjoining the superficiality of their lives. But after passing the pages, one after the other, it is easier to get to the last remain of their souls, where the explanation for their thoughts and behaviour lies. It was here, at the end, where I felt in peace with Tomas and Tereza and their hurtful love. I felt in peace with Sabrina and with Franz obsessions too.
This is a book thought from the heart of Milan Kundera. A mirror from his reflexions, from his way of seeing life, people, love, politics and his country.
A 100% recommended book!