This book was part of the reading list I mentioned in the previous post. Damn, to think that I’ve missed out! And to think that he ended up being a favorite author, alongside Kazuo Ishiguro and Dianne Wynne Jones, after only reading one book.
I think it was a beautiful book. The whole premise centers on infidelity, which is a theme I’ve come to be familiar with. But then, it explores human relationships and that dreadful feeling that you are not you because ‘you’ are defined by the relationships with everything around you. But is it actually that dreadful? Sometimes, I think it can be beautiful. ‘You’ are defined by how people see you, yet people perceive you differently. How many ‘you’-s are there?
After reading, I realized that there’s a movie based on the book. Damn, I really missed out so much!
And so, I’ve compiled my favorite quotes from the book:
- If eternal return is the heaviest of burdens, then our lives can stand out against it in all their splendid lightness.
- The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life’s most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of a burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into the heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant.
- He said to himself, I’m sick with compassion. It’s good that she’s gone and that I’ll never see her again, though it’s not Tereza I need to be free of- it’s that sickness, compassion, which I thought I was immune to until she infected me with it.
- But man, because he has only one life to live, cannot conduct experiments to test whether to follow his passion (compassion) or not.
- We all reject out of hand the idea that the love of our life may be something light or weightless; we presume our love is what must be, that without it our life would no longer be the same […]
- Our day-to-day life is bombarded with fortuities or, to be more precise, with the accidental meetings of people and events we call coincidences.
- No, vertigo is something other than the fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.
- In spite of their love, they had made each other’s life a hell. The fact that they loved each other was merely proof that the fault lay not in themselves, in their behavor or inconstancy of feeling, but rather in their incompatibility.
- But when the strong were too weak to hurt the weak, the weak had to be strong enough to leave.
- […] Love was not an extension of public life, but its antithesis. It meant a longing to put himself at the mercy of his partner.
- He listened eagerly to the story of her life and she was equally eager to hear the story of his, but although they had a clear understanding of the logical meaning of the words they exchanged, they failed to hear the semantic susurrus of the river flowing through them.
- From tender youth, we are told by father and teacher that betrayal is the most heinous offense imaginable. But what is betrayal? Betrayal means breaking ranks. Betrayal means breaking ranks and going off into the unknown.
- Noise has one advantage. It drowns out words.
- Yes, if you’re looking for infinity, just close your eyes!
- That’s why one banned book in your former country means infinitely more than the billions of words spewed out by our universities.
- […] Beauty is a world betrayed. The only way we can encounter it is if its persecutors have overlooked it somewhere.
- Living in truth, lying neither to ourselves nor to others, was possible only away from the public: the moment someone keeps an eye on what we do, we involuntarily make allowances for that eye, and nothing we do is truthful.
- Even if Tereza were completely unlike Tereza, her soul inside her would be the same and look on in amazement at what was happening to her body.
- In other words, flirting is a promise of sexual intercourse without a guarantee.
- She took things too seriously, turning everything into a tragedy, and failed to grasp the lightness and amusing insignificance of physical love.
- For what made the soul so excited was that the body was acting against its will; the body was betraying it, and the soul was looking on.
- Did her adventure with the engineer teach her that casual sex has nothing to do with love? That it is light, weightless?
- People usually escape from their troubles into the future; they draw an imaginary line cross the path of time, a line beyond which their current troubles will cease to exist.
- For the edifice rested on the single column of her fidelity, and loves are like empires: when the idea they are founded on crumbles, they, too, fade away.
- Whether they knew or didn’t know is not the main issue; the main issue is whether a man is innocent because he didn’t know.
- Is a fool on the throne relieved of all responsibility merely because he is a fool?
- How defenseless we are in the face of flattery!
- When you sit face to face with someone who is pleasant, respectful, and polite, you have a hard time reminding yourself that nothing he says is true, that nothing is sincere.
- “You know the best thing about what you wrote? Your refusal to compromise. Your clear-cut sense of what’s good and what’s evil, something we’re beginning to lose. We have no idea anymore what it means to feel guilty.”
- “No one could be more innocent, in his soul and conscience, than Oedipus. And yet he punished himself when he saw what he head done.”
- Is it right to raise one’s voice when others are being silenced? Yes.
- Human life occurs only once, and the reason we cannot determine which of our decisions are good and which bad is that in a given situation we can make only one decision; we are not granted a second, third, or fourth life in which to compare various decisions.
- What happens but once might as well not have happened at all.
- Love is the longing for the half of ourselves we have lost.
- A question is like a knife that slices through the stage backdrop and gives us a look at what lies hidden behind it.
- We can never establish with certainty what part of our relations with others is the result of our emotions- love, antipathy, charity, or malice- and what part is predetermined by the constant power play among individuals.
- True human goodness, in all its purity and freedom, can come to the fore only when its recipient has no power.
- The longing for Paradise is man’s longing not to be man.
- Perhaps all the questions we ask of love, to measure, test, probe, and save it, have the additional effect of cutting it short.
- Perhaps the reason we are unable to love is that we yearn to be loved, that is, we demand something (love) from our partner instead of delivering ourselves up to him demand-free and asking for nothing but his company.
- We all have a tendency to consider strength the culprit and weakness the innocent vitim.
- The sadness meant: we are at the last station. The happiness meant: we are together. The sadness was form, the happiness content. Happiness filled the space of sadness.
Dear Mr. Kundera, you really are one of my favorite authors from now on. I’ll read more of yours works this year.