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The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The Unbearable Lightness of Being


by Milan Kundera

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Identity Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph). We used Michael Henry Heim's translation.

Quote #1

It would be senseless for the author to try to convince the reader that his characters once actually lived. They were not born of a mother's womb; they were born of a stimulating phrase or two or from a basic situation. Tomas was born of the saying "Einmal ist keinmal." Tereza was born of the rumbling of a stomach. (2.1.1)

Right away we start to associate Tomas with the cerebral and Tereza with the physical. Tereza, in her disgust for the body, rebels against the very nature and origin of her character. She longs to leave the physical behind and enter the realm of the spiritual.

Quote #2

And so the man who called to her was simultaneously a stranger and a member of the secret brotherhood. He called to her in a kind voice, and Tereza felt her soul rushing up to the surface through her blood vessels and pores to show itself to him. (2.8.6)

Tereza is attracted to Tomas because he calls up her soul, the source of her identity. Her fear of infidelity, then, is rooted not so much in jealousy as in her loss of identity. Tomas turns her into one of many, and not an individual.

Quote #3

The ban on making love with his painter-mistress in Geneva was actually a self-inflicted punishment for having married another woman. (3.1.17)

At this point in the novel, Kundera hasn't explicitly revealed that Franz's mistress is Sabina, but he's continually hinted at it. Why has he hidden her identity from us this way? What narrative purpose could that serve? Check out "Narrator Point of View" for an interesting discussion on the topic.

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