Study Guide

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Part 5, Chapter 12

By Milan Kundera

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Part 5, Chapter 12

  • Meanwhile, Tomas has been meeting regularly with one woman in particular.
  • One night, she reminds him of an earlier night they had together, when they made love on a rug during a thunder and lightning storm.
  • Tomas is appalled to find that he has completely forgotten said storm. His mind, explains the narrator, only remembers "the steep and narrow path of sexual conquest," not the other details surrounding it (5.12.3).
  • Tomas feels ashamed, even though it isn't his fault that he can't remember.
  • Since he met Tereza, no other woman has been able to imprint anything on his "poetic memory" (5.12.6). This is unfair to his other women, including this one in particular.
  • Tomas's relationship with Tereza picks up where these other relationships leave off.
  • He doesn't want to uncover anything secret in her, because he made love to her the first time before he could pick up his imaginary scalpel and start wondering what she was like.
  • He didn't fall in love with her until afterwards, when she got sick and saw her as a baby sent downstream to him in a basket.
  • Metaphors are dangerous, says the narrator. Love begins with a metaphor – when a woman enters her first word into a man's poetic memory.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Part 5, Chapter 12 Study Group

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