February 4, 2011

Literary Pick (***)

The Unbearable Lightness of Being
-Milan Kundera

After reading the first 50 pages of Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being, I was very tempted to read the one and two star reviews on Goodreads. Most especially women's reaction to Kundera, but I did my best to refrain from doing so. As usual, I didn't want to be negatively influenced by anyone's reviews from the start.
There was something about this book that annoyed me very much, and I really did struggle to read it from a objective point of view, however, the scenarios seemed so outrageously absurd and nonsensical that I simply couldn't get Kundera's narcissism and misogynism past the palate, and please note, that I don't say Thomas' or Franz' misogynism. It didn't feel like I was reading a character's character, it felt like I was reading Kundera's character. It's not that I cannot have an open mind and accept women portrayed as weak beings, who suffer and make mistakes and ruin their lives by making stupid choices, but come on! These women were so unrealistic in every conceivable way. Thomas would score 1-2 women a day? and that's after he lost his job as a Dr. and ended up as a window-cleaner? Is that funny or what? and what about Tereza and Sabina response to all this? The part when Tomas' hair smelled like vagina, and after months of enduring this smell Tereza asks Tomas to go wash his hair? I can go on and on about ridiculous instances but it's not even worth getting into. I could accept it as a work if the writing was brilliant, but it's not. It was ok but nothing extraordinary. The references to Ana Karenina make sense. Although I have not had the pleasure of reading Karenina yet, I am very familiar with Tolstoy's works and I understand he too was quite insensitive to women's needs and tended to be self-focused.
Anyway..further research confirmed my feeling about Kundera, he is notorious for representing women as nothing more than sex objects and mistresses.
I have to admit the story did keep me intrigued and curious enough to want to finish it, but overall I didn't enjoy it.



Blogger Jane said...

Hi Rachel

I just found you through darling Millie and am now following you.

I'm intrigued to read this review. I read all Kundera's novels about 15 years ago - I was on a roll and adored them. Maybe I should re-read them now to see if I still like them.

It could also have something to do with adoring the film with Juliette Binoche and Daniel Day-Lewis ☺. J x

February 25, 2011 at 4:36 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Hi there, Jane.

I have never watched the movie.
Kundera really brought out the feminist in me when I read his book. I remember being so perturbed that Kundera would create such chauvenists with ease. The females in his story where nothing more than his sexual objects. And I don't know if you remember but I noticed how all the mothers in the book are also disregarded and disposed. His own mother he disowned because they took the side of his ex wife and didn't agree with him abandoning his son. Then later on his sons character when he's grown up also disowns his mom, and Teresa slso abandons her mom..what is that all about?
Kundera came off as such an egoists that I couldn't enjoy or even believe it for that matter.

February 25, 2011 at 8:44 AM  
Blogger Jane said...

Hi Rachel

Now I'm intrigued. I'm also a feminist but I can't recall being perturbed at the time. I'm going to watch the film again and then find my books, hidden in the shed somewhere!

J x

February 26, 2011 at 3:22 AM  

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