Study Guide

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Part 5, Chapter 2

By Milan Kundera

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Part 5, Chapter 2

  • According to the narrator, no one should believe that the Communist regimes of Central Europe were the work of criminals.
  • They were the work of men who thought they had discovered the only road to paradise. Only later did it become clear that such a paradise did not exist, and so the enthusiasts were in fact murderers.
  • Everyone blamed the Communists in the aftermath. But the communists shouted back that they are innocent because they did not know what they were doing was wrong.
  • Tomas followed the issue closely.
  • The relevant question, to him, is whether being ignorant of what they did made the Communist enthusiasts innocent.
  • This brings us back to Oedipus.
  • Oedipus didn't know he was sleeping with his mother; but he still felt guilty afterwards.
  • Tomas thinks the Communists ought to be horrified by the sight of what they have done; they ought to want to poke out their eyes, like Oedipus.
  • Tomas likes his analogy so much that he writes about it in an article and publishes it in a newspaper published by Czech writers.
  • But when it is published, he is not pleased to see that they shortened it considerably, which made it seem more aggressive and less nuanced. This happened in the Spring of 1968.
  • The Communists didn't like being told that they should poke their eyes out.
  • Several months later, the Russians invaded Czechoslovakia.

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