The Unbearable Lightness of Being
by Milan Kundera
The Unbearable Lightness of Being Life, Consciousness, Existence Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph). We used Michael Henry Heim's translation.
What was important was the golden footprint, the magic footprint she had left on his life and no one could ever remove. Just before disappearing from his horizon, she had slipped him Hercules' broom, and he had used it to sweep everything he despised out of his life. A sudden happiness, a feeling of bliss, the joy that came of freedom and a new life – these were the gifts she had left him. (3.9.18)
Franz has used this "broom" to rid his life of the burdens that weighed him down. Sabina has shown him – by leaving him – how to take pleasure in lightness, rather than in weight.
When we want to give expression to a dramatic situation in our lives, we tend to use metaphors of heaviness. We say that something has become a great burden to us. We either bear the burden or fail and go down with it, we struggle with it, win or lose. And Sabina-what had come over her? Nothing. She had left a man because she felt like leaving him. Had he persecuted her? Had he tried to take revenge on her? No. Her drama was a drama not of heaviness but of lightness. What fell to her lot was not the burden but the unbearable lightness of being. (3.10.2)
This is a very important passage in the novel. We've just seen that Franz, burden-free at last, revels in the sweet lightness of being. But Sabina, met with the same freedom, is tormented by it. The difference between the two has to do primarily their strength. Franz thinks that love means renouncing strength and never uses his strength on Sabina. She finds him weak. But Sabina thinks that to love is to dominate – she uses her strength. When Kundera refers to Sabina "and her lot," he refers to the camp of the strong. It is the strong who find the lightness of being to be unbearable, while the weak, like Franz, are enchanted by it.
Only the most naive of questions are truly serious. They are the questions with no answers. A question with no answer is a barrier that cannot be breached. In other words, it is questions with no answers that set the limits of human possibilities, describe the boundaries of human existence.) (4.6.7)
This is a moment in the story where we can see Kundera talking to his readers through his novel. This is an accurate reflection of his own philosophy, and clearly the types of questions he discusses here are the types of questions explored in The Unbearable Lightness of Being.