She stayed with him a week, until she was well again, then went back to her town, some hundred and twenty-five miles from Prague. If he invited her to come, then come she would, and offer him up her life. Then she would remain a waitress in a hotel restaurant of a provincial town and he would never see her again. The world of Kundera's novel is one in which lives are shaped by irrevocable choices and fortuitous events.
And then came the time I have just spoken of and see as the key to his life: Standing by the window, he looked out over the courtyard at the walls opposite him and deliberated. It is a world in which, because everything occurs only once and then disappears into the past, existence seems to lose its substance and weight. " This international bestseller is his attempt to answer that question.
But is heaviness truly deplorable and lightness splendid?
There is an infinite difference between a Robespierre who occurs only once in history and a Robespierre who eternally returns, chopping off French heads.
Let us therefore agree that the idea of eternal return implies a perspective from which things appear other than as we know them: theyappear without the mitigating circumstance of their transitory nature.
This reconciliation with Hitler reveals the profound moral perversity of a world that rests essentially on the nonexistence of return, for in this world everything is pardoned in advance and therefore everything cynically permitted.
If every second of our lives recurs an infinite number of times, we are nailed to eternity as Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross. In the world of eternal return the weight of unbearable responsibility lies heavy on every move we make.
Leafing through a book on Hitler, I was touched by some of his portraits: they reminded me of my childhood.
I grew up during the war; several members of my family perished in Hitler's concentration camps; but what were their deaths compared with the memories of a lost period in my life, a period that would never return?
Will the war between two African kingdoms in the fourteenth century itself be altered if it recurs again and again, in eternal return?
It will: it will become a solid mass, permanently protuberant, its inanity irreparable.
One half of the opposition he called positive (light, fineness, warmth, being), the other negative.
We might find this division into positive and negative poles childishly simple except for one difficulty: which one is positive, weight or lightness? The only certainty is: the lightness/weight opposition is the most mysterious, most ambiguous of all. But only in the light of these reflections did I see him clearly.
, Milan Kundera tells the story of a young woman in love with a man torn between his love for her and his incorrigible womanizing and one of his mistresses and her humbly faithful lover.