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The unbearable search for self : a comparison between "One Man’s Bible" and "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" Xie, Xiaosi


This research paper makes an overall comparison between Gao Xingjian's "One Man's Bible" and Milan Kundera's "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" in order to demonstrate that both of the works aim to examine how individuals seek their own identity and sooth themselves during times of chaos; my emphasis will be on how both protagonists gradually establish their identity through ostensibly libertine lifestyles and how both writers' representations of women are free of misogyny, and how the female characters are imbued with a strength as vigorous as the male characters. This paper begins with a biographical introduction background to these two internationally acclaimed writers and to their importance in twentieth-century literature. The similarities in their own experiences contribute to the similarities in their works, especially in "One Man's Bible" and "The Unbearable Lightness of Being". Chapter 2 discusses how the protagonists seek their identities through sexual relationships with women. Chapter 3 and 4 demonstrate how the female characters find their identities, and how Gao and Kundera see women and feminism as reflected in the novels. Chapter 5 examines the novels' philosophical ideas. I will elaborate on each writer's own literary theories exhibited in these two novels with references to their theoretical writings. Eventually, I will come to a conclusion that both "One Man's Bible" and "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" are examples of those singular pieces of art where literature and philosophy coexist, because of their detachment from any political ideology and most importantly their concern for human beings in general.

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