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The weight of life

Milan Kundera is one of those authors that I've been meaning to read for some time. Somehow or other I managed to miss The unbearable lightness of being when it was published to widespread praise in the 1980s. I did see the film (beautifully shot, but surprisingly unmemorable) - Kundera apparently disliked it so much that he refused to have any other books turned into film.

I think in the 1980s, it fed into the zeitgeist. The Cold War was at its coldest though an unexpected thaw was imminent. Kundera's story of the Prague Spring in 1968, and its aftermath was also a very human story, melding life and history with philosophy. This may make it sound like a rather chilly distant tale, and you could certainly argue that this chilly distance does feed into the central character of the novel, Tomas; but it is also one of a very small number of novels that has made me laugh out loud and cry.

The central story is about Tomas, a talented surgeon, who is also a serial philanderer, his w…

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