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The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

by Milan Kundera

Betrayal Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

"You seem to be turning into the theme of all my paintings," she said. "The meeting of two worlds. A double exposure. Showing through the outline of Tomas the libertine, in-credibly, the face of a romantic lover. Or, the other way, through a Tristan, always thinking of his Tereza, I see the beautiful, betrayed world of the libertine." (1.10.9)

Sabina's paintings draw some early connections between the love stories of the novel and its political backdrop. We later hear her explain the double world of her paintings as an ideology that betrays Communism, or rather, any and all forms of kitsch.

Quote #2

When she told her French friends about it, they were amazed. "You mean you don't want to fight the occupation of your country?" She would have liked to tell them that behind Communism, Fascism, behind all occupations and invasions lurks a more basic, pervasive evil and that the image of that evil was a parade of people marching by with raised fists and shouting identical syllables in unison. But she knew she would never be able to make them understand. Embarrassed, she changed the subject. (3.5.8)

This "pervasive evil" turns out to be kitsch, which Sabina despises because it does not allow for individuality. It's interesting that both Sabina and Tereza vehemently seek to establish their individuality. For two such different women, they actually seem to have quite a bit in common (think also of their shared tendency toward vertigo and self-degradation).

Quote #3

Franz knew his wife didn't care whether the pendant was ugly or not. An object was ugly if she willed it ugly, beautiful if she willed it beautiful. Pendants worn by her friends were a priori beautiful. And even if she did find them ugly, she would never say so, because flattery had long since become second nature to her. (3.6.22)

Marie-Claude does not have the "sense of beauty" that Kundera praises and that we see illustrated in Tereza. Tereza uses her sense of beauty to recognize fortuity around her and construct the motifs that give her life weight. Rather than try to recognize beauty, Marie-Claude declares what she wants to be beautiful and what she wants to be ugly.

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