Something you should know about this book - Deep, deep, deep.
This is the recurring question throughout:
The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life's most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant. What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?”All the characters are either light/heavy or torn between both. It's interesting.
So be prepared to come across the words 'unbearable,' 'weight,' and 'lightness,' MANY times.
Overall, I didn't really 'get' this book - I didn't love it, did not have the spirit to delve into it, but it definitely DOES express very profound ideas (perhaps if I reread in a couple year times I'll see it in another light). The conciseness with which Kundera expresses these ideas through his book is one of its most noticeable traits; personally, I prefer it when writers churn out/explore ideas a tad more clearly in their books.
Nonetheless, there was this SWELL CHAPTER on kitsch -
"kitsch is the absolute denial of shit both in the literal and figurative senses of the word; kitsch excludes everything from its purview which is essentially unacceptable in human existence."
I generally have issues with profanity in literature (it's a besmirching of the English language; see quote 3 paragraphs below that rejects this, though) but then again there have been time when it is used so appropriately/perfectly (e.g. Of Mice and Men, Fraction of the Whole, etc.) so when shit popped up I thought I'd read on... and it was absolutely worth it!
Kitsch (I understand that there are more connotations now, though) is the act of not accepting that life sucks... Sabina lives with the old couple, listens to beautiful music, and in that moment, is undergoing Kitsch, but as Kundera explains, this is inevitable as kitsch is an "integral part of the human condition."
Then, he started talking about TOTALITARIAN KITSCH which is a lot more complicated but basically the communist sense of it - individualism, doubt and irony banished.
You can't claim that shit is immoral, after all! The objection to shit is a metaphysical one. The daily defecation session is daily proof of the unacceptability of Creation. Either/or: either shit is acceptable (in which case don't lock yourself in the bathroom!) or we are created in an unacceptable manner.
In conclusion: Didn't particularly connect with this novel but it is written fluidly and has a brilliant chapter on Kitsch.
Currently: Listening to the Return of the King soundtrack (I'VE MISSED IT) and re-reading Sylvia Plath (despite my 3 month no-intense-Plath rule, because her depression is a tad contagious). This is the 2nd time this anthology has sat in my home but I'm reading it in a different light... I'm noticing new rhyme schemes (and being mind-blown, yes)... so many soft constants and "liquid vowels" as Ted Hughes eloquently put it.
Rediscovering my old favorites, like Daddy and Lady Lazarus (more recent, yes), but
IS INCREDIBLE; I DIDN'T LOVE IT THIS MUCH BEFORE! Perfect puns everywhere, so delicate (yet strong, esp. the 1st one); love it.
Hearing a white saint rave
About a quintessential beauty
Visible only to the pargon heart,
I tried my sight on an apple-tree
That for eccentric knob and wart
Had all my love.