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Milan Kundera’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” Quotes (82 Quotes)


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  • When a private talk over a bottle of wine is broadcast on the radio, what can it mean but that the world is turning into a concentration camp?
    (Milan Kundera, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being")

  • But if we betray B., for whom we betrayed A., it does not necessarily follow that we have placated A. The life of a divorcée-painter did not in the least resemble the life of the parents she had betrayed. The first betrayal is irreparable. It calls forth a chain reaction of further betrayals, each of which takes us farther and farther away from the point of our original betrayal.
    (Milan Kundera, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being")

  • He suddenly felt dismayed at how little he had seen of her the last two years; he had so few opportunities to press her hands in his to stop them from trembling.
    (Milan Kundera, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being")

  • No matter how brutal life becomes, peace always reign in the cemetery.
    (Milan Kundera, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being")

  • Tereza had gone back to sleep; he could not. He pictured her death. She was dead and having terrible nightmares; but because she was dead, he was unable to wake her from them. Yes, that is death: Tereza asleep, having terrible nightmares, and he unable to wake her.
    (Milan Kundera, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being")


  • When graves are covered with stones, the dead can no longer get out. But the dead can't go out anyway! What difference does it make whether they're covered with soil or stones?
    (Milan Kundera, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being")

  • But just make someone who has fallen in love listen to his stomach rumble, and the unity of body and soul, that lyrical illusion of the age of science , instantly fades away.
    (Milan Kundera, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being")

  • He who gives himself up like a prisoner of war must give up his weapons as well. And deprived in advance of defense against a possible blow, he cannot help wondering when the blow will fall.
    (Milan Kundera, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being")

  • No one can give anyone else the gift of the idyll; only an animal can do so, because only animals were not expelled from Paradise. The love between dog and man is idyllic. It knows no conflicts, no hair-raising scenes; it knows no development.
    (Milan Kundera, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being")

  • Tereza knew what happens during the moment love is born: the woman cannot resist the voice calling forth her terrified soul; the man cannot resist the woman whose soul thus responds to his voice.
    (Milan Kundera, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being")

  • When the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to object.
    (Milan Kundera, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being")

  • But was it love? The feeling of wanting to die beside her was clearly exaggerated: he had seen her only once before in his life! Was it simply the hysteria of a man, who, aware deep down of his inaptitude for love, felt the self-deluding need to simulate it?
    (Milan Kundera, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being")

  • His overriding life necessity was not love, it was his profession…He had come to medicine not by coincidence or calculation but by a deep inner desire. Insofar as it is possible to divide people into categories, the surest criterion is the deep-seated desires that orient them to one or another lifelong activity. Every Frenchman is different. But all the actors the world over are similar.
    (Milan Kundera, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being")

  • Now, perhaps, we are in a better position to understand the abyss separating Sabina and Franz: 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.
    (Milan Kundera, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being")

  • The day after his father left, Franz and his mother went into town together, and as they left home Franz noticed that her shoes did not match. He was in a quandary: he wanted to point out the mistake, but was afraid he would hurt her. So, during the two hours they spent walking through the city together he kept his eyes focused on her feet. It was then he had his first inkling of what it means to suffer.
    (Milan Kundera, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being")


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