LITERATURE: The Unbearable Lightness – Setting Up Theme

Finally getting some time to read and I’m finding myself intrigued by Kundera’s manner of posing a theory and illustrating it by introducing a couple of characters and from there, beginning a story.

The idea of eternal return is a mysterious one, and Nietzsche has often perplexed other philosophers with it: to think that everything recurs as we once experienced it, and that the recurrence itself recurs ad infinitum!  (p. 3)

Positing this statement and its possible outcomes is Tomas, a divorced father who has decided not to fight the system that allows his ex wife to run his life and who is warily entering into a relationship with Tereza:

Was it better to be with Tereza or to remain alone?
There i no means of testing which decision is better, because there is no basis for comparison. We live everything as it comes, without warning, like an actor going on cold. And what can life be worth if the first rehearsal for life is life itself?  (p. 8)

Tomas has come up against a woman who by her persistence includes herself into his space that he has set as off limits to all other women.

Tomas came to this conclusion: Making love with a woman and sleeping with a woman are two separate passions, not merely different but opposite.  Love does not make itself felt in the desire for copulation (a desire that extends to an infinite number of women) but in the desire for shared sleep (a desire limited to one woman). (p. 15)

This was Tomas’ last wall, the use of his bed for sleeping.  Tereza has broken down this wall. She may well have broken down the barrier of recurrence of the act so as to actually make it meaningful.

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