• “Disturbing the Tranquility” of meaning: the unbearable lightness of language in Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being

      Tomicic, Emma (2020-05)
      By reading Kundera’s novel and its message through a Derridean lens, we can see that they are linked in their theories about language. Through his approach to language and the history of it, Jacques Derrida coined the terms “deconstruction” and “différance.” The two are rooted in presenting the fallacies of ascribing neat definitions to words and reading words out of context. A closer analysis of the emotions and actions of these four characters through Derrida’s work can show us how Kundera is encouraging readers to re-evaluate the value systems we place on language. To begin the discussion of The Unbearable Lightness of Being , I want to analyze how deconstruction functions in the novel: différance; the deconstruction of binaries (and the paradoxes in value systems placed on binaries); and, finally, polysemy and understanding.