The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The Unbearable Lightness of Being


Milan Kundera

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The Unbearable Lightness of Being: Part 2, Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Life is full of such coincidences, the narrator claims, which most of the time go unnoticed. The narrator notes that such coincidences are what bring Anna and Vronsky together in Tereza’s favorite book, Anna Karenina. Anna and Vronsky meet at a train station when someone falls on the tracks and is killed, and at the end of the novel, Anna throws herself on the very same tracks, committing suicide. 
Anna and Vronsky’s relationship is mirrored somewhat in Tereza and Tomas’s relationship. Not only are both couples brought together by coincidences (or fate, depending on the interpretation), both Tomas and Tereza are killed at the end of the novel as well.
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Human life, the narrator says, is like the “symmetrical composition” of the book Anna Karenina. What occurs at the beginning, occurs at the end. Life is like music, the narrator further explains, with repeating motifs, and while many consider the coincidences in Anna Karenina to be cliché, the narrator disagrees. Those who refuse to see life’s coincidences, he claims, rob themselves of life’s beauty.   
The “symmetrical composition” of Anna Karenina is another example of eternal return, and this circular composition is present in Kundera’s novel as well. Tereza and Tomas meet in the country in the beginning of the novel and die in the country at the end. The novel itself also repeats—the names of parts of the book are repeated and in some cases, the exact number of chapters repeats too. Thus, Kundera’s rejection of eternal return is more complicated than it initially seemed; the book argues against cyclical existence while also creating cyclical existence.
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