The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The Unbearable Lightness of Being


Milan Kundera

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The Unbearable Lightness of Being: Part 5, Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

Prague is a very different place after the Russian occupation, and in the following years, the death rate in Czechoslovakia rises significantly. One day, Tomas goes to the funeral of a famous biologist who was ejected from the Academy of Sciences. When Tomas arrives there are several cameras, but they aren’t for television. They are for the police, so they can study who attended the funeral. Tomas notices that the tall editor is among the mourners, but when Tomas goes to approach him, the editor mouths not to come closer. Tomas isn’t sure if he is referencing the cameras or simply doesn’t want to talk to Tomas because he refused to sign the petition. Either way, Tomas turns and walks out.
The cameras present at the biologist’s funeral again illustrate the persecution of Czechoslovakia’s intelligentsia. Likely, the editor tells Tomas not to come closer because of the cameras. The regime already knows the editor works at the magazine that published the Oedipus article, and they know Tomas was the one who wrote the article. Being seen together by the regime could be bad for both of them. This passage again reflects the power of the regime, which cannot be escaped.
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