First published in 1984 in both Paris and New York, Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being is a rich and complicated novel that is at once a love story, a metaphysical treatise, a political commentary, a psychological study, a lesson on kitsch, a musical composition in words, an aesthetic exploration, and a meditation on human existence. As an expatriate Czechoslovakian writer, Kundera draws upon his firsthand experience of the 1968 Prague Spring and subsequent Soviet occupation of his country to provide the backdrop for the story of four people whose lives are inextricably enmeshed. Because the work is so complex, there are many themes that intertwine throughout the novel, just as a theme in a musical composition will be introduced only to reappear later in a different key. Indeed there are several critics who focus their entire analysis on the way Kundera uses musical structure to put together his novel. At its most fundamental level, The Unbearable Lightness of Being is about the ambiguity and paradoxes of human existence, as each person teeters between lightness and weight; between the belief that all is eternal return and Nietzsche's concept that life is an ever-disappearing phenomenon; and between dream and reality.