Monday, November 26, 2007

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

I was speaking to a friend and it made me remember this book, written by Milan Kundera. Its an absolutely fantastic read.. I couldn't find my old copy, so I went out and bought a new one.

Re-reading is a beautiful thing. Like watching a delicate movie over again, you tend to notice things that you didn't before.

The book tells a story of two lovers, Tomas and Tereza, as well as that of Sabina and Franz. Tomas, who has had a failed marriage, falls in love with Tereza. Their lives were brought together by little happenings of fate (you know, those little unexplainable things), but also raises the question as to how much we play a part in determining our future. Tomas, a womanizer by disease, can't stop his old lifestyle, and Tereza s driven quite mad by it. But at the end we realise that in spite of his ways, Tomas was bent and broken by the will of Tereza's submissive force.

One of Tomas' mistresses, Sabina, also had a relationship with Franz, a married scholar. Tomas and Franz are very different, and the latter is deeply in love with Sabina, whereas the former looks at her more as a friend. Franz's wife is a terror, and he only realises it much later on - which plays on the theme of how sometimes we overlook things when its easier to do so. He eventually divorces his wife for Sabina, but Sabina, sensing that this relationship is not right for her (deep down inside she loves Tomas), flees the country. And Franz goes a little mad, attributing everything in life (even his new girlfriend!) as a sign of faithfulness to Sabina. But eventually he snaps out of it, but dies in the end tragically.

What's great about this book is that its full of amazing 'one-liners' that you won't be able to find elsewhere. Some of my favourites:

"The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become."

"Any schoolboy can do experiements in the physics laboratory to test various scientific hypotheses. But man, because he has only one life to live, cannot conduct experiments to test whether to follow his passion or not."

"But when the strong were too weak to leave the weak, the weak had to be strong enough to leave."

"Love begins at the point when a woman enters her first word into out poetic memory."

"Characters are not born, like people, of woman; they are born of a situation, a sentence, a metaphor containing in a nutshell a basic human possibility that the author thinks no one else has discovered or said something essential about."

And my utmost favourite:

" Perhaps all the questions we ask of love, to measure, test, probe and save it, have the additional effect of cutting it short. Perhaps the reason we are unable to love is that we yearn to be loved, that is, we demand something (love) from our partner instead of delivering ourselves up to him demand free and asking for nothing in return but his company."

Hmm .. I wonder if reading a really dark romantic novel has anything to do with my mood lately. *lol*

7 comments:

Lennon said...

I really enjoy reading your blog especially your insightful views on love and life. It is kind of reassuring to know that you are not the only one with some of these views and experience, which at times you have difficulties expressing them out. It is an equally refreshing experience to see love and life from another angles altogether, especially from someone a couple of years younger!!!

Relationship is a weird entity. The more you want to cling onto to it, the further you are from it. Though fate may bring a couple together to start a relationship, the yearning to be love and remain in a relationship eventually force them apart.

What is love? Or how should we keep a relationship going? Why do we always rush into a relationship and end up dejected? So does the winner take it all? I am really confused and clueless.

Pathfinder said...

"...absolutely fantastic read...watching a delicate movie over again..."

One of my best friends told me about this book when we were in school. One of the most fascinating girls I know is...fascinated by this book. Now I'm reading about it on your blog.

I've never read it, and I've never seen the movie...never mind watching it over.

"...man, because he has only one life to live, cannot conduct experiments..."

"...asking for nothing in return but his company."

I thought you might remember this. I paraphrase...

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, the man who strives valiantly...who (at best) knows the triumph of high achievement, or (at worst) fails while daring greatly.

Company is fine (and even that can be difficult to acquire), but a relationship cannot survive on company alone. Love...it cannot travel just one way. Reciprocity is vital. If I thought a relationship would benefit from a nudge, I'd give it one...and accept the risk of rejection.

I can't believe it. As I wrote this, the Lee Hwa thing came on again...

ShadowDancer said...

no i du think its a coincidence..
But maybe a gd book will keep u occupied..:)

ShadowDancer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Miao said...

He's one of my favourites. I'm waiting for him to win the Nobel some day. I have the entire collection of his works.

Karen Tan said...

i believe one should love without expecting anything in return. for instance i would only require his company. a person should not be too selfish. to be able to go dinner with me. watch movie shows.

Gabriel said...

You are forever so sweet:)