Download The Unbearable Lightness of Being: A Novel Audiobook

The Unbearable Lightness of Being: A Novel Audiobook, by Milan Kundera Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Milan Kundera Narrator: Richmond Hoxie Publisher: HarperAudio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2012 ISBN: 9780062215529
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (120,128 ratings) (rate this audio book)
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When The Unbearable Lightness of Being was first published in English, it was hailed as "a work of the boldest mastery, originality, and richness" by critic Elizabeth Hardwick and named one of the best books of 1984 by the New York Times Book Review. It went on to win the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction and quickly became an international bestseller. Twenty years later, the novel has established itself as a modern classic. To commemorate the anniversary of its first English-language publication, HarperCollins is proud to offer a special hardcover edition.

A young woman in love with a man torn between his love for her and his incorrigible womanizing; one of his mistresses and her humbly faithful lover -- these are the two couples whose story is told in this masterful novel.

Controlled by day, Tereza's jealousy awakens by night, transformed into ineffably sad death-dreams, while Tomas, a successful surgeon, alternates loving devotion to the dependent Tereza with the ardent pursuit of other women. Sabina, an independent, free-spirited artist, lives her life as a series of betrayals -- of parents, husband, country, love itself -- whereas her lover, the intellectual Franz, loses all because of his earnest goodness and fidelity.

In a world in which lives are shaped by irrevocable choices and by fortuitous events, a world in which everything occurs but once, existence seems to lose its substance, its weight. Hence we feel, says the novelist, "the unbearable lightness of being" -- not only as the consequence of our private acts but also in the public sphere, and the two inevitably intertwine.

This magnificent novel encompasses the extremes of comedy and tragedy, and embraces, it seems, all aspects of human existence. It juxtaposes geographically distant places (Prague, Geneva, Paris, Thailand, the United States, a forlorn Bohemian village); brilliant and playful reflections (on "eternal return," on kitsch, on man and animals -- Tomas and Tereza have a beloved doe named Karenin); and a variety of styles (from the farcical to the elegiac) to take its place as perhaps the major achievement of one of the world's truly great writers.

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  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rachelle | 2/13/2014

    " I liked this book to the extent of wanting to finish it, to see where the story goes. I found it hard to connect with any of the characters, or care about what happens to any of them. The characters seemed to be unreal and lacking in personality. This book is full of ridiculous instances that make no sense. Kundera portrays all the women as weak sexual objects not worthy of any kind of real relationships. However the men, such as Thomas (who compulsively cheats on his wife), we are supposed to believe to be profoundly desirable for no real reason at all. This book is full of sexual encounters, but not one of them I found to be appealing in any way, much the opposite actually. I thought it disruptive to the story, how the author frequently gives explanations for why characters feel or act a certain way. There are definitely some interesting concepts in the book, but still I found myself to be very detached from the story. This book is extremely overrated, in my opinion. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nancy | 2/11/2014

    " One of my absolutely favourites. Every single time I re-read it I find something completely new. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lÿdia | 1/30/2014

    " I think this book will continue to guide me each time I read it. And I'm sure it'll give me powerful insights over and over again. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 مناف | 1/18/2014

    " It was a strange way of telling a story, he fell sometimes in teaching lessons... but still an amazing novel "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Autumn | 1/6/2014

    " Did not especially like until the very end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Renata | 1/2/2014

    " The best of Kundera's works. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steven | 12/23/2013

    " Excellent title ... it was cool and chic in the 90s to think that this was a sexy, political, philosophical and deep look at the shallowness of human experience that would join the canon of great literature ... Worth reading but hasn't quite stood the test of time for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Caleb | 12/17/2013

    " Great work and perfect ending "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Apoorva | 12/10/2013

    " Poetic stuff. Utterly original. And every word would mean something new upon subsequent readings. One of my favourite magical realists, right alongside Marquez and Borges. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Ralph | 10/3/2013

    " The unbearable boredom of trying to read this book... stopped after the first 80 pages... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jacqueline | 9/16/2013

    " I thought this was an interesting read. It's different in the way it is written, which is thought-provoking. I liked the philosophy, the unique writing style, and that the story was interesting enough to keep me reading on. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Katie | 7/26/2013

    " Couldn't get trough this. Maybe I should try in english next time. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bonnie | 6/20/2013

    " Not as bad as the woman who loaned it to me said it was.I was amazed...at her stupidity.lol. A thought provoking book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hannah | 6/10/2013

    " The writing in this book was incredibly beautiful. Some really amazing quotes. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kindra | 6/1/2013

    " Awesome read with an almost unbearable grasp of the human condition and the complexity of marriage, infidelity and overall human relationships. Love the different perspectives of each character in this book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Laura | 4/11/2013

    " Pretentious drivel disguised as philosophy. I found the movie to be less ridiculous. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tara | 3/5/2013

    " I meant to read this before the movie came out (yes, in the 80's). I finally got around to it now even though I always get annoyed with the "powerless" female characters, there was so much more to like in this book. It was definitely worth the wait (weight). "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Layla | 1/1/2013

    " He is a good writer, but I expected it to be a bit better. It was a bit of a bore for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rebekah | 11/28/2012

    " This book was deep. I loved the philosophical musings and the way characters' decisions were explained. The essay writing style was unique, too. While this wasn't an amazing book, it was still pretty good. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Uma | 10/29/2012

    " Brutally honest yet compassionate, profound and funny...the book lives up to the promise of the title. Kundera steers clear of all unessential details. I'd have better enjoyed the narrative if I had sufficient background in western philosophy-there are numerous allusions. Overall a delightful read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Natl | 10/13/2012

    " Having already loved the film years ago, I'm now thoroughly enjoying this, though I feel it less intensly than I did back then. This is no doubt due to the fact that my life is much better now. This said I wished I'd read the book first, as always. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jennifer | 5/29/2012

    " Really enjoyed this book - profound and thought provoking. Multiple perspectives of the same situation and intersecting story lines make the book more compelling. Definitely one of the best books I've read in awhile! "

About the Author

Milan Kundera, the Franco-Czech novelist, was born in Brno and has lived in France, his second homeland, for more than twenty years. He is the author of the novels The Joke, Life Is Elsewhere, The Farewell Party, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and Immortality, as well as the short story collection Laughable Loves—all originally written in Czech. Like Slowness, his two earlier nonfiction works, The Art of the Novel and Testaments Betrayed, were originally written in French.

About the Narrator

Richmond Hoxie has performed on Broadway in I’m Not Rappaport and off-Broadway in The Dining Room, Vienna: Lusthaus (Revisited), To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday, and Landscape with Waitress. On television, he appears frequently in all of the incarnations of Law and Order. His film work includes JFK, Still of the Night, Without a Trace, and For Love or Money.