I’m only 57 pages into The Unbearable Lightness of Being by the Czech literary goliath that is Milan Kundera and I am already prophesying that the tome will rank alongside Lord of the Rings (the trilogy, naturally) and Anna Karenina as a book to cherish, adore and return to longingly over and over again.
The narrative is so delicate and captivating, with observances that draw the reader deeper until one realizes that it is not only the characters of Tereza and Tomas that are entrancing, but that the very novel is worthy of the deepest adoration:
Necessity knows no magic formulae – they are all left to chance. If love is to be unforgettable, fortuities must immediately start fluttering down to it like birds to Francis of Assisi’s shoulders. [p. 47]
But before the reader gets the chance to savour and carry the quixotic snippet forever more, Kundera injects some sardonic reality:
If the seat Tomas had occupied had been occupied instead by the local butcher, Tereza never would have noticed that the radio was playing Beethoven (though the meeting of Beethoven and the butcher would also have been an interesting coincidence). But her nascent love inflamed her sense of beauty, and she would never forget that music. Whenever she heard it, she would be touched. Everything going on around her at that moment would be haloed by the music and take on its beauty. [pp. 48-9]
It is more than a book: it is an empyreal experience.