Study Guide

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Part 2, Chapter 11

By Milan Kundera

Part 2, Chapter 11

  • All these fortuities combined to give Tereza the courage to go to Prague to see Tomas.
  • We are daily bombarded with coincidences, explains the narrator, and we don't notice most of them. But for Tereza, love "inflamed her sense of beauty," making everything around her take on a sense of beauty.
  • In the book, Anna Karenina, which Tereza carried with her to Prague, Anna and Vronsky meet in a train station, where someone is run over by a train. At the end of the novel, Anna throws herself under a train. This is a very symmetrical composition, says the narrator, and it probably seems very "novelistic" to you.
  • The narrator is willing to agree that it is very literary, but warns you against calling it contrived or fabricated. "Human lives," he argues, "are composed in precisely such a fashion" (2.11.3).
  • In fact, human lives are composed like music.
  • A given motif takes up a permanent place in a person's life (Beethoven is Tereza's motif) and without knowing it, "the individual composes his life according to the laws of beauty" (2.11.4).
  • Therefore we shouldn't criticize novels for being contrived when such coincidences occur; we can only criticize man for being blind to such coincidences in real life.
  • When you ignores these kinds of coincidences, you deprive your life of beauty.