The word “idyll” has always been very important to Tereza. The “idyll” began in the Old Testament, and it expressed life in Paradise. Life in Paradise did not occur on a straight line, the narrator contends; rather, it moved along a circle, and this circle bred happiness. Living in nature, surrounded by animals and seasons, Tereza found some level of happiness. A person cannot give another the “gift of the idyll,” the narrator claims, but an animal can. Human time does not occur in a circle, which is why human beings can never be truly happy. The desire for repetition is happiness, and this is what Karenin gives to Tereza.
This again reflects Kundera’s central argument that the key to happiness is cyclical living. Humankind, while they may desire a cyclical existence, cannot achieve this on their own. This desire for cyclical living is reflected in Tomas and Tereza’s move to the country, and it is also seen in the structure of Kundera’s book. The book itself is cyclical—it does not unfold in a linear way and it frequently repeats—which represents a desire for happiness through repetition.