IMMORTALITY MILAN KUNDERA PDF

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Milan Kundera - Immortality - Ebook download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read book online. Milan Kundera - Immortality. immortality milan fruchbabefonbei.cf - Ebook download as PDF File .pdf) or read book online. Milan Kundera's sixth novel springs from a casual gesture of a woman to her swimming instructor, a gesture that cre-ates a character in the mind of a writer.


Immortality Milan Kundera Pdf

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IMMORTALITY BY MILAN KUNDERA (A NOVEL) PDF. If you still need more books Immortality By Milan Kundera (A Novel) as references, visiting browse the. PDF | The focus of study in this paper is self-interpretation as a form of expression of the strife for engraved immortality. Vladimir Nabokov, Milan Kundera and. Immortality, by Milan Kundera, the hugely acclaimed Czech novelist and author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being: 'It will make you cleverer, maybe even a.

But isn't a person, and, to an even greater extent, a character in a novel, by definition a unique, inimitable being? How then is it possible that a gesture I saw performed by one person, a gesture that was connected to her, that characterized her, and was part of her individual charm, could at the same time be the essence of another person and my dreams of her?

That's worth some thought: If our planet has seen some eighty billion people, it is difficult to suppose that every individual has had his or her own repertory of gestures. Arithmetically, it is simply impossible. Without the slightest doubt, there are far fewer gestures in the world than there are individuals. That finding leads us to a shocking conclusion: We could put it in the form of an aphorism: I said at the beginning, when I talked about the woman at the pool, that "the essence of her charm, independent of time, revealed itself for a second in that gesture and dazzled me.

The gesture revealed nothing of that woman's essence, one could rather say that the woman revealed to me the charm of a gesture. A gesture cannot be regarded as the expression of an individual, as his creation because no individual is capable of creating a fully original gesture, belonging to nobody else , nor can it even be regarded as that person's instrument; on the contrary, it is gestures that use us as their instruments, as their bearers and incarnations.

Agnes, now fully dressed, went into the hall. There she stopped and listened. Vague sounds from the adjoining room made her realize that her daughter had just gotten up. As if to avoid meeting her, Agnes hurried out into the corridor.

In the elevator she pressed the button for the lobby. Instead of going down, the elevator began to twitch like a person afflicted with Saint Vitus' dance. This was not the first time the elevator had startled her with its moods. On one occasion it began to go up when she wanted to go down, another time it refused to open and kept her prisoner for half an hour.

She had the feeling that it wanted to reach some sort of understanding with her, to tell her something in its rough, mute, animal way. She complained several times to the concierge, but because the elevator behaved quite normally and decently toward the other tenants, the concierge considered Agnes's quarrel with it her own private matter and paid no attention.

This time Agnes had no other choice but to get out and take the stairs. The moment the stairway door closed behind her, the elevator regained its composure and followed her down.

Saturday was always the most tiring day for Agnes. Paul, her husband, generally left before seven and had lunch out with one of his friends, while she used her free day to take care of a thousand chores more annoying than the duties of her job: She tried to find a moment to squeeze in a bit of rest at the sauna, something she could not do during the week; in the late afternoon she would always find herself with a vacuum cleaner and duster, because the cleaning woman who came on Fridays was becoming more and more careless.

But this Saturday differed from other Saturdays: A particular scene appeared before her eyes: She got into her car, which was parked in front of the house.

Rock music boomed from speakers in the locker room. Ten years ago, when she first started coming, the club had fewer members and it was quiet. Then, year by year, the club improved: She opened a locker and began to undress. Two women were chatting close by. One of them was complaining in a quiet, slow alto voice that her husband was in the habit of leaving everything lying on the floor: The other, in a soprano, spoke twice as fast; the French habit of raising the last syllable of a sentence an octave higher made the flow of her speech sound like the indignant cackling of a hen: I'm disappointed in you!

I'm really shocked! You've got to put your foot down! Don't let him get away with it! It's your house, after all! Don't let him walk all over you! That's how he is! And he's always been like that.

Ever since I've known him, leaving things all over the place! It's your house! You can't let him get away with it! You've got to make that crystal clear! Agnes never took part in such conversations; she never spoke badly of Paul, even though she sensed that this alienated her somewhat from other women.

She turned her head in the direction of the alto: You know perfectly well you're in the right! You can't let him act like that! Agnes knew that gesture: Agnes undressed, closed the locker, and walked through the swinging doors into a tiled hall, with showers on one side and a glass-enclosed sauna on the other.

There, women sat squeezed together on long wooden benches. Some were wrapped in special plastic sheets that formed an airtight cover around their bodies or certain parts of the body, most often the belly and behind , so that the skin perspired all the more readily and the women would lose weight more quickly, or so they believed.

She climbed to the highest bench, where there was still some room. She leaned against the wall and closed her eyes. The noise of music did not reach this far, but the voices of the women, who chattered away at full blast, were just as loud.

An unfamiliar young woman entered the sauna and the moment she walked through the door began to order everyone about; she made them all sit closer together, then she picked up a pitcher and poured water on the stones. With much hissing, hot steam started to rise, making the woman sitting next to Agnes wince with pain and cover her face.

The newcomer noticed it, declared, "I like hot steam; it gives me that real sauna feeling," squeezed herself between two naked bodies, and at once began to talk about yesterday's television talk show featuring a famous biologist who had just published his memoirs. Another woman nodded in agreement: And how modest! Didn't you realize how extremely proud that man was? But I like that kind of pride! I adore proud people!

As if interpreting this remark as veiled disagreement, the newcomer repeated very loudly, looking Agnes straight in the eye: Modesty is hypocrisy! I've got to work up a good sweat. But then I must have a cold shower. A cold shower! I adore that! Actually I like my showers cold even in the morning. I find hot showers disgusting.

As a little girl, Agnes used to go for walks with her father, and once she asked him whether he believed in God. Father answered, "I believe in the Creator's computer. The word "computer" was peculiar, and so was the word "Creator," for Father would never say "God" but always "Creator," as if he wanted to limit God's significance to his engineering activity.

The Creator's computer: So she asked Father whether he ever prayed. He said, "That would be like praying to Edison when a light bulb burns out. That God created the world and then left it to a forsaken humanity trying to address him in an echoless void— this idea isn't new. Yet it is one thing to be abandoned by the God of our forefathers and another to be abandoned by God the inventor of a cosmic computer.

In his place, there is a program that is ceaselessly running in his absence, without anyone being able to change anything whatever. To load a program into the computer: Everything else is without importance, from the Creator's point of view, and is only a play of permutations and combinations within a general program, which is not a prophetic MILAN KUNDERA anticipation of the future but merely sets the limits of possibilities within which all power of decision has been left to chance.

That was the same with the project we call mankind. The computer did not plan an Agnes or a Paul, but only a prototype known as a human being, giving rise to a large number of specimens that are based on the original model and haven't any individual essence. Just like a Renault car, its essence is deposited outside, in the archives of the central engineering office. Individual cars differ only in their serial numbers.

The serial number of a human specimen is the face, that accidental and unrepeatable combination of features. It reflects neither character nor soul, nor what we call the self. The face is only the serial number of a specimen. Agnes recalled the newcomer who had just declared that she hated hot showers. She came in order to inform all the women present that i she likes saunas to be hot 2 she adores pride 3 she can't bear modesty 4 she loves cold showers 5 she hates hot showers.

With these five strokes she had drawn her self-portrait, with these five points she defined her self and presented that self to everyone.

And she didn't present it modestly she said, after all, that she hated modesty! She used passionate verbs such as "adore" and "detest," as if she wished to proclaim her readiness to fight for every one of those five strokes, for every one of those five points.

Why all this passion? Agnes asked herself, and she thought: When we are thrust out into the world just as we are, we first have to identify with that particular throw of the dice, with that accident organized by the divine computer: Without the faith that our face expresses our self, without that basic illusion, that archillusion, we cannot live, or at least we cannot take life seriously.

And it isn't enough for us to identify with our selves, it is necessary to do so passionately, to the point of life and death. Because only in this way can we regard ourselves not merely as a variant of a human prototype but as a being with its own irreplaceable essence. That's the reason the newcomer needed not only to draw her self- portrait but also to make it clear to all that it embodied something unique and irreplaceable, something worth fighting or even dying for.

Immortality After spending a quarter of an hour in the heat of the sauna, Agnes rose and took a dip in a small pool filled with ice-cold water. Then she lay down to rest in the lounge, surrounded by other women who even here never stopped talking.

She wondered what kind of existence the computer had programmed for life after death. Two possibilities came to mind. If the computer's field of activity is limited to our planet, and if our fate depends on it alone, then we cannot count on anything after death except some permutation of what we have already experienced in life; we shall again encounter similar landscapes and beings.

Shall we be alone or in a crowd? Alas, solitude is not very likely; there is so little of it in life, so what can we expect after death! After all, the dead far outnumber the living!

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At best, existence after death would resemble the interlude she was now experiencing while reclining in a deck chair: Eternity as the sound of endless babble: But there is a second possibility, beyond our planet's computer there may be others that are its superiors.

Then, indeed, existence will not need to resemble our past life and a person can die with a vague yet justified hope. And Agnes imagined a scene that had lately been often on her mind: Likable, cordial, he sits down in a chair facing her husband and herself and proceeds to converse with them.

Under the magic of the peculiar kindliness radiating from the visitor, Paul is in a good mood, chatty, intimate, and fetches an album of family photographs. The guest turns the pages and is perplexed by some of the photos.

For example, one of them shows Agnes and Brigitte standing under the Eiffel Tower, and the visitor asks, "What is that? I am glad to see him at last. She knows who the man is. She knows why he came and what he was going to ask them about.

That's why she is a bit nervous; she would like to be alone with him, without Paul, and she doesn't quite know how to arrange it.

She had lost Mother a year before that. Even then Father had already been ill and everyone had expected his death. Mother, on the contrary, was still quite well, full of life; she seemed destined for a contented, prolonged widowhood, so Father was almost embarrassed when it was she, not he, who suddenly died.

As if he were afraid that people would reproach him. His own relatives were scat- , tered all over the world, and except for a distant cousin living in Germany, Agnes had never met any of them. Mother's people, on the other hand, all lived in the same town: Mother's father was a farmer from the mountains who had sacrificed himself for his children; he had made it possible for all of them to have a good education and to marry comfortably.

When Mother married Father, she was undoubtedly in love with him, which is not surprising, for he was a good-looking man and at thirty already a university professor, a respected occupation at that time.

It pleased her to have such an enviable husband, but she derived even greater pleasure from having been able to bestow him as a gift upon her family, to which she was closely tied by the traditions of country life. But because Agnes's father was unsociable and taciturn nobody knew whether it was because of shyness or because his mind was on other things, and thus whether his silence expressed modesty or lack of interest , Mother's gift made die family embarrassed rather than happy.

As time passed and both grew older, Mother was drawn to her family more and more; for one thing, while Father was eternally MILAN KUNDERA locked up in his study she had a hunger for talking, so that she spent long hours on the phone to sisters, brothers, cousins, and nieces and took an increasing interest in their problems.

When she thought about it now, it seemed to Agnes that Mother's life was a circle: But then Mother died, and Father remained. When Agnes and her sister, Laura, came to visit him two weeks after the funeral, they found him sitting at the table with a pile of torn photographs. Laura picked them up and then began to shout, "Why have you torn up Mother's pictures?

Confronted by his daughters, Father kept silent and offered no explanation.

Agnes hissed at her sister, "Stop shouting at Dad! Father rose to his feet, went into the next room, and the sisters quarreled as never before. The next day Laura left for Paris and Agnes stayed behind. It was only then that Father told her he had found a small apartment in town and planned to sell the villa.

That was another surprise. Everyone considered Father an ineffectual person who had handed over the reins of practical life to Mother. They all thought that he couldn't live without Mother, not only because he was incapable of taking care of anything himself but also because he didn't even know what he wanted, having long ago ceded her his own will. But when he decided to move out, suddenly, without the least hesitation, a few days after Mother's death, Agnes understood that he was putting into effect something he had been planning for a long time, and, therefore, that he knew perfectly well what he wanted.

This Immortality was all the more intriguing, since he could have had no idea that he would survive Mother and therefore must have regarded the small apartment in town as a dream rather than a realistic project.

He had lived with Mother in their villa, he had strolled with her in the garden, had hosted her sisters and cousins, had pretended to listen to their conversations, and all the time his mind was elsewhere, in a bachelor apartment; after Mother's death he merely moved to the place where he had long been living in spirit.

It was then that he first appeared to Agnes as a mystery. Why had he torn up the photos? Why had he been dreaming for so long about a bachelor apartment? And why had he not honored Mother's wish to have her sister and niece move into the villa? After all, that would have been more practical: When she asked the reason for his move, he gave her a very simple answer: And so it occurred to her that Father, too, was returning full circle to his beginnings.

It was several years before Mother's death that he first became seriously ill. At that time Agnes took two weeks off from work to be with him. But she did not succeed in having him all to herself, because Mother did not leave them alone for a single moment. Once, two of Father's colleagues from the university came to visit him.

They asked him a lot of questions, but Mother answered them. Agnes lost her patience: But the third time Mother went along with them again. A year after Mother's death his illness took a sharp turn for the worse. Agnes went to see him, stayed with him for three days, and on the morning of the fourth day he died.

She had told herself that they were fond of each other but could never really get to know each other because they had never had an opportunity to be alone. The only time they even came close was between her eighth and twelfth years, when Mother had to devote herself to little Laura. During that time they often took long walks together in the countryside and he answered many of her questions.

It was then that he spoke of the Creator's computer and of many other things. All that she remembered of those conversations were simple statements, like fragments of valuable pottery that now as an adult she tried to put back together. His death ended the pair's sweet three-day solitude. The funeral was attended by all of Mother's relatives. But because Mother herself was not there, there was nobody to arrange a wake and everyone quickly dispersed. Besides, the fact that Father had sold the house and had moved into a bachelor apartment was taken by relatives as a gesture of rejection.

Now they thought only of the wealth awaiting both daughters, for the villa must have fetched a high price.

They learned from the notary, however, that Father had left everything to the society of mathematicians he had helped to found. And so he became even more of a stranger to them than he had been when he was alive. It was as if through his will he had wanted to tell them to kindly forget him.

Shortly after his death, Agnes noticed that her bank balance had grown by a sizable amount. She now understood everything. Her seemingly impractical father had actually acted very cleverly. Ten years earlier, when his life was first threatened, she had come to visit him for two weeks, and he had persuaded her to open a Swiss bank account.

Shortly before his death he had transferred practically all his money to this account, and the little that was left he had bequeathed to the mathematicians. If he had left everything to Agnes in his will, he would have needlessly hurt the other daughter; if he had discreetly transferred all his money to her account and failed to earmark a symbolic sum for the mathematicians, everyone would have been burning with curiosity to know what had happened to his money. At first she told herself that she must share the inheritance with her Immortality sister.

Agnes was eight years older and could never rid herself of a sense of responsibility. But in the end she did not tell her sister anything. Not out of greed, but because she did not want to betray her father. By means of his gift he had clearly wished to tell her something, to express something, to offer some advice he was unable to give her in the course of his life, and this she was now to guard as a secret that concerned only the two of them.

She was tired and hungry, and because it's dreary to eat alone in a restaurant, she decided to have a snack in the first bistro she saw. There was a time when this neighborhood had many pleasant Breton restaurants where it was possible to eat inexpensively and pleasantly on crepes or galettes washed down with apple cider.

One day, however, all these places disappeared and were replaced by modern establishments selling what is sadly known as "fast food. Through the window she saw people sitting at tables, hunched over greasy paper plates. Her eye came to rest on a girl with a very pale complexion and bright red lips. She had just finished her lunch, pushed aside her empty cup of Coca-Cola, leaned her head back, and stuck her index finger deep into her mouth; she kept twisting it inside for a long time, staring at the ceiling.

The man at the next table slouched in his chair, his glance fixed on the street and his mouth wide open. It was a yawn without beginning or end, a yawn as endless as a Wagner melody: Actually, several other people were also yawning, showing teeth, fillings, crowns, dentures, and not one of them covered his mouth with his hand.

A child in a pink dress skipped along among the tables, holding a teddy bear by its leg, and it too had its mouth wide open, though it seemed to be calling rather than yawning. Now and again the child would bump one of the guests with the teddy bear. The tables stood close together, and it was obvious even through the glass that along with the food the guests must also be swallowing the smell of Immortality their neighbors' perspiration. A wave of ugliness, visual, olfactory, and gustatory she vividly imagined the taste of a greasy hamburger suffused by sweetish water , hit her in the face with such force that she turned away, determined to find some other place to satisfy her hunger.

The sidewalk was so crowded that it was difficult to walk. The tall shapes of two fair, yellow-haired Northerners were clearing a way through the crowd ahead of her: They both had a pink knapsack on their backs and a child strapped in front. In a moment she lost sight of the couple and instead saw in front of her a woman dressed in baggy trousers barely reaching the knees, as was the fashion that year.

The outfit seemed to make her behind even heavier and closer to the ground. Her bare, pale calves resembled a pair of rustic pitchers decorated by varicose veins entwined like a ball of tiny blue snakes. Agnes said to herself: Why hadn't she done so? Not only have people stopped trying to be attractive when they are out among other people, but they are no longer even trying not to look ugly! She said to herself: She would go out into the street holding the flower before her eyes, staring at it tenaciously so as to see only that single beautiful blue point, to see it as the last thing she wanted to preserve for herself from a world she had ceased to love.

She would walk like that through the streets of Paris, she would soon become a familiar sight, children would run after her, laugh at her, throw things at her, and all Paris would call her the crazy woman with the forget-me-not She continued on her way: Then the sharp sound of a motorcycle cut through her. Agnes recalled the young woman who had entered the sauna a few hours earlier and, in order to introduce her self, and to force it upon others, had announced the moment she walked through the door that she hated hot showers and modesty.

Agnes was certain that it was exactly the same impulse that led the black-haired girl to remove the muffler from her motorcycle. It wasn't the machine that made the noise, it was the self of the black-haired girl; in order to be heard, in order to penetrate the consciousness of others, she attached the noisy exhaust of the engine to her soul.

Agnes watched the flowing hair of that blaring soul and she realized that she yearned intensely for the girl's death. If at that moment a bus had run her over, leaving her lying in a bloody pool on the road, Agnes would have felt neither horror nor sorrow, but only satisfaction.

Suddenly frightened by her hatred, she said to herself: And it will take very little for the glass to overflow, perhaps just one drop: There is a certain quantitative border that must not be crossed, yet no one stands guard over it and perhaps no one even realizes that it exists.

She kept walking. The sidewalk was becoming more and more crowded and nobody bothered to move out of her way, so she stepped off the curb and continued to make her way between the edge of the sidewalk and the oncoming traffic.

She had been used to doing this for a long time: She was aware of it, she felt it to be her misfortune and often tried to overcome it: In this everyday, banal test of power she was always the loser.

Once, a child of about seven had walked straight at her; Agnes tried not to swerve from her path, but in the end she had no choice if she didn't wish to collide with Immortality A memory came to her mind: As they strolled down a broad forest path, they came upon two village boys standing with their arms and legs spread wide; one of them held a stick sideways, as if to bar their way.

You must pay a toll! It was probably just a childish prank and all that was needed was to push the boys aside. Or it was their way of begging and Father only needed to pull a coin out of his pocket. But Father turned aside and chose to continue along a different path. In truth, it really made very little difference, since they were strolling aimlessly and didn't care where they were going, but nevertheless Mother was angry at Father and couldn't keep from remarking, "He even gives in to a couple of twelve-year-olds!

A new assault of noise interrupted the recollection: Into this racket, from somewhere overhead, as if from heaven, came a piano rendition of a Bach fugue. Someone on a top floor had evidently opened a window and turned up the volume all the way, so that Bach's severe beauty sounded a warning to a world that had gone awry.

However, Bach's fugue was no match for the pneumatic drills and cars; on the contrary, cars and drills appropriated Bach as part of their own fugue, so that Agnes had to cover her ears with her hands and continued to walk like that down the street. At that moment a passerby coming in the opposite direction gave her an angry glance and tapped his forehead, which in the international language of gestures says that you are crazy, scatterbrained, or weak in the head.

Agnes caught that glance, that hatred, and was seized by a furious anger.

She stopped. She wanted to throw herself at that person. She wanted to strike him. But she couldn't; the crowd was already pushing him along and somebody bumped into her, because on the sidewalk it was impossible to stop for more than three seconds.

She had to keep walking, but she couldn't stop thinking of him: That man was censuring her for the trespass of her gesture. It was equality itself that reprimanded her for refusing to undergo what everyone must undergo.

It was equality itself that forbade her to disagree with the world in which all of us live. The longing to kill that man was not just a fleeting reaction. Even after the immediate excitement had passed, that longing remained, though it was joined by her surprise that she was capable of such hatred.

The image of a person tapping his forehead floated in her innards like a fish full of poison, slowly decaying and impossible to spew out. The memory of Father came back to her. Ever since shohad seen him retreat from those twelve-year- old boys she often imagined him in this situation: At first Father rushes along with the others, but when he sees how they all push and shove, ready to trample each other underfoot, and a wild-eyed woman strikes him with her fist because he is in her way, he suddenly stops and steps aside.

And in the end he merely watches the overloaded lifeboats as they are slowly lowered amid shouts and curses, toward the raging waves. What name to give this attitude? Cowards are afraid of dying and will fight to survive. Undoubtedly, if he had acted out of regard for his fellows. But Agnes did not believe this was his motive. What was it then? She couldn't say. Only one thing seemed certain: Yes, that much was certain. The question that arises is this: No, Agnes cannot imagine that Father was capable of hatred.

Hate traps us by binding us too tightly to our adversary. This is the obscenity of war: Agnes was sure: The melee on the ship filled him with such disgust that he preferred to Immortality drown.

The physical contaa with people who struck and trampled and killed one another seemed far worse to him than a solitary death in the purity of the waters. The memory of Father began to deliver her from the hatred that had possessed her.

Little by little, the poisonous image of a man tapping his forehead disappeared, and in its place a phrase came into her mind: I cannot hate them because nothing binds me to them; I have nothing in common with them. For the first time in history, the defeated were not allowed a scrap of glory: The victor was not satisfied with mere victory but decided to judge the defeated and judge the entire nation, so that at that time it was not at all easy to speak German or to be German. Agnes's forebears on her mother's side were farmers living in the borderland between the German and French parts of Switzerland.

Thus, even though from an administrative viewpoint they were French Swiss, they spoke both languages equally well. Father's parents were Germans living in Hungary.

As a young man Father studied in Paris, where he learned to speak passable French; after his marriage, however, German naturally became the couple's common language. It was only after the war that Mother recalled the official language of her parents, and Agnes was sent to a French lyce'e. Father was permitted only a single Germanic pleasure: This is the most famous German poem ever written, one which all German children must learn by heart: On all hilltops There is peace, In all trectops You will hear Hardly a breath.

Birds in the woods are silent. Just wait, soon You too will rest. The idea of the poem is simple: The purpose of the poetry is not to try to dazzle Immortality us with an astonishing thought, but to make one moment of existence unforgettable and worthy of unbearable nostalgia. In a literal translation the poem loses everything. You will recognize how beautiful it is only when you read it in German: Warte nur, balde Ruhest du auch.

Every line has a different number of syllables, there is an alternation of trochees, iambs, dactyls, the sixth line is oddly longer than the others, and even though the poem consists of two couplets, the first grammatical sentence ends asymmetrically in the fifth line, which creates a melody that had never existed before, in any poem, as magnificent as it is ordinary. Agnes's father learned it while still in Hungary, where he attended German public schools, and the first time Agnes heard it from him she was the same age he had been then.

They recited it in the course of their strolls together, exaggerating all the accents and trying to march to the rhythm of the poem. In view of the irregularity of the meter this was not at all simple, and they succeeded only when they got to the last two lines: The last time Father recited the little poem to her was two or three days before his death. At first she thought that he was trying to return to his mother tongue and his childhood; then she noticed that he was gazing into her eyes in an eloquent, intimate way and it occurred to her that he wanted to remind her of their happy strolls of long ago; then at last she realized that the poem speaks of death: It had never occurred to her before that those innocent lines, so good for schoolchildren, might have this meaning.

Wane nur, balde rtthest du auch. Soon you too will rest. And she recognized the voice of Father's approaching death: After his death, calm did indeed begin to reign. That calm was in her soul and it was beautiful; let me repeat: And as time went on, Father's last message sounded more and more distinctly in that silence, like a hunter's horn sounding from the depths of a forest. What did he wish to tell her with his gift? To be free.

To live as she wished to live, to go where she wished to go. He himself had never dared to do so. That is why he had given his daughter all the means she needed to dare. From the moment she got married Agnes lost all the pleasures of solitude: Not a single one of the rooms was hers: When she complained, Paul suggested that she consider the living room her own room and he promised her with undoubted sincerity that neither he nor Brigitte would disturb her there. But how could she feel at home in a room with a dining table and eight chairs used only for dinner guests?

It is probably clear by now why that morning she felt so happy in'the bed that Paul had just left a moment before, and why she passed so quietly through the hall so as not to attract Brigitte's attention. She even welcomed the capricious elevator, because it permitted her a few moments of solitude.

She looked forward to the drive, too, because in the car nobody talked to her and nobody looked at her. Yes, the most important thing was that nobody looked at her. Once, both of her colleagues were off sick and she worked for two weeks all alone in the office.

I was waiting for Professor Avenarius, whom I'd occasionally meet here for a chat. But Professor Avenarius was late and I kept watching the woman; she was alone in the pool, standing waist-deep in the water, and she kept looking up at the young lifeguard in sweat pants who was teaching her swim.

He was giving her orders: she was to hold on to the to the edge of the pool and breathe deeply in and out. She proceeded to do this earnestly, seriously, and it was as if an old steam engine were wheezing from the depths of the water that idyllic sound, now long forgotten, which to those who never knew it can be described in no better way than the wheezing of an old woman breathing in and out by the edge of a pool.

I watched her in fascination. She captivated me by her touchingly comic manner which the lifeguard also noticed, for the corner of his mouth twitched slightly. Then an acquaintance started talking to me and diverted my attention. When I was ready to observe her once again the lesson was over. At that time Agnes took two weeks off from work to be with him. But she did not succeed in having him all to herself, because Mother did not leave them alone for a single moment.

Once, two of Father's colleagues from the university came to visit him. They asked him a lot of questions, but Mother answered them. Agnes lost her patience: "Please, Mother, let Father speak for himself! But the third time Mother went along with them again. A year after Mother's death his illness took a sharp turn for the worse. Agnes went to see him, stayed with him for three days, and on the morning of the fourth day he died.

She had told herself that they were fond of each other but could never really get to know each other because they had never had an opportunity to be alone. The only time they even came close was between her eighth and twelfth years, when Mother had to devote herself to little Laura.

immortality milan kundera.pdf

During that time they often took long walks together in the countryside and he answered many of her questions. It was then that he spoke of the Creator's computer and of many other things. All that she remembered of those conversations were simple statements, like fragments of valuable pottery that now as an adult she tried to put back together. His death ended the pair's sweet three-day solitude. The funeral was attended by all of Mother's relatives.

But because Mother herself was not there, there was nobody to arrange a wake and everyone quickly dispersed. Besides, the fact that Father had sold the house and had moved into a bachelor apartment was taken by relatives as a gesture of rejection. Now they thought only of the wealth awaiting both daughters, for the villa must have fetched a high price.

They learned from the notary, however, that Father had left everything to the society of mathematicians he had helped to found. And so he became even more of a stranger to them than he had been when he was alive.

It was as if through his will he had wanted to tell them to kindly forget him. Shortly after his death, Agnes noticed that her bank balance had grown by a sizable amount.

She now understood everything. Her seemingly impractical father had actually acted very cleverly. Ten years earlier, when his life was first threatened, she had come to visit him for two weeks, and he had persuaded her to open a Swiss bank account. Shortly before his death he had transferred practically all his money to this account, and the little that was left he had bequeathed to the mathematicians. If he had left everything to Agnes in his will, he would have needlessly hurt the other daughter; if he had discreetly transferred all his money to her account and failed to earmark a symbolic sum for the mathematicians, everyone would have been burning with curiosity to know what had happened to his money.

At first she told herself that she must share the inheritance with her Immortality sister. Agnes was eight years older and could never rid herself of a sense of responsibility.

But in the end she did not tell her sister anything. Not out of greed, but because she did not want to betray her father. By means of his gift he had clearly wished to tell her something, to express something, to offer some advice he was unable to give her in the course of his life, and this she was now to guard as a secret that concerned only the two of them.

She was tired and hungry, and because it's dreary to eat alone in a restaurant, she decided to have a snack in the first bistro she saw. There was a time when this neighborhood had many pleasant Breton restaurants where it was possible to eat inexpensively and pleasantly on crepes or galettes washed down with apple cider.

One day, however, all these places disappeared and were replaced by modern establishments selling what is sadly known as "fast food. Through the window she saw people sitting at tables, hunched over greasy paper plates. Her eye came to rest on a girl with a very pale complexion and bright red lips. She had just finished her lunch, pushed aside her empty cup of Coca-Cola, leaned her head back, and stuck her index finger deep into her mouth; she kept twisting it inside for a long time, staring at the ceiling.

The man at the next table slouched in his chair, his glance fixed on the street and his mouth wide open. It was a yawn without beginning or end, a yawn as endless as a Wagner melody: at times his mouth began to close but never entirely; it just kept opening wide again and again, while his eyes, fixed on the street, kept opening and closing counter to the rhythm of his mouth.

Actually, several other people were also yawning, showing teeth, fillings, crowns, dentures, and not one of them covered his mouth with his hand. A child in a pink dress skipped along among the tables, holding a teddy bear by its leg, and it too had its mouth wide open, though it seemed to be calling rather than yawning.

Now and again the child would bump one of the guests with the teddy bear. The tables stood close together, and it was obvious even through the glass that along with the food the guests must also be swallowing the smell of Immortality their neighbors' perspiration. A wave of ugliness, visual, olfactory, and gustatory she vividly imagined the taste of a greasy hamburger suffused by sweetish water , hit her in the face with such force that she turned away, determined to find some other place to satisfy her hunger.

The sidewalk was so crowded that it was difficult to walk. The tall shapes of two fair, yellow-haired Northerners were clearing a way through the crowd ahead of her: a man and a woman, looming head and shoulder over the throng of Frenchmen and Arabs.

They both had a pink knapsack on their backs and a child strapped in front. In a moment she lost sight of the couple and instead saw in front of her a woman dressed in baggy trousers barely reaching the knees, as was the fashion that year.

The outfit seemed to make her behind even heavier and closer to the ground. Her bare, pale calves resembled a pair of rustic pitchers decorated by varicose veins entwined like a ball of tiny blue snakes. Agnes said to herself: that woman could have found a dozen outfits that would have covered her bluish veins and made her behind less monstrous. Why hadn't she done so? Not only have people stopped trying to be attractive when they are out among other people, but they are no longer even trying not to look ugly!

She said to herself: when once the onslaught of ugliness became completely unbearable, she would go to a florist and download a forget-me-not, a single forget-me-not, a slender stalk with miniature blue flowers. She would go out into the street holding the flower before her eyes, staring at it tenaciously so as to see only that single beautiful blue point, to see it as the last thing she wanted to preserve for herself from a world she had ceased to love.

She would walk like that through the streets of Paris, she would soon become a familiar sight, children would run after her, laugh at her, throw things at her, and all Paris would call her the crazy woman with the forget-me-not She continued on her way: her right ear was assaulted by a tide of music, the rhythmic thumping of percussion instruments surging from shops, beauty parlors, restaurants; her left ear picked up the sounds of the road: the composite hum of cars, the grinding rattle of a bus pulling away from a stop.

Then the sharp sound of a motorcycle cut through her. She couldn't help but try to find the source of this physical MILAN KUNDERA pain: a girl in jeans, with long black hair blowing behind her, sat on a small motorcycle as rigidly as if she were sitting behind a typewriter; the muffler had been removed and the bike made a terrible noise. Agnes recalled the young woman who had entered the sauna a few hours earlier and, in order to introduce her self, and to force it upon others, had announced the moment she walked through the door that she hated hot showers and modesty.

Agnes was certain that it was exactly the same impulse that led the black-haired girl to remove the muffler from her motorcycle. It wasn't the machine that made the noise, it was the self of the black-haired girl; in order to be heard, in order to penetrate the consciousness of others, she attached the noisy exhaust of the engine to her soul.

Agnes watched the flowing hair of that blaring soul and she realized that she yearned intensely for the girl's death. If at that moment a bus had run her over, leaving her lying in a bloody pool on the road, Agnes would have felt neither horror nor sorrow, but only satisfaction.

Milan Kundera - Immortality

Suddenly frightened by her hatred, she said to herself: the world is at some sort of border; if it is crossed, everything will turn to madness: people will walk the streets holding forget-me-nots or kill one another on sight. And it will take very little for the glass to overflow, perhaps just one drop: perhaps just one car too many, or one person, or one decibel.

There is a certain quantitative border that must not be crossed, yet no one stands guard over it and perhaps no one even realizes that it exists. She kept walking. The sidewalk was becoming more and more crowded and nobody bothered to move out of her way, so she stepped off the curb and continued to make her way between the edge of the sidewalk and the oncoming traffic.

She had been used to doing this for a long time: people didn't get out of her way. She was aware of it, she felt it to be her misfortune and often tried to overcome it: she tried to gather courage, to walk bravely ahead, to stick to her path and force the oncoming person to give way, but she never succeeded. In this everyday, banal test of power she was always the loser. Once, a child of about seven had walked straight at her; Agnes tried not to swerve from her path, but in the end she had no choice if she didn't wish to collide with Immortality A memory came to her mind: when she was about ten years old, she went with both her parents for a walk in the mountains.

As they strolled down a broad forest path, they came upon two village boys standing with their arms and legs spread wide; one of them held a stick sideways, as if to bar their way. You must pay a toll! It was probably just a childish prank and all that was needed was to push the boys aside. Or it was their way of begging and Father only needed to pull a coin out of his pocket.

But Father turned aside and chose to continue along a different path. In truth, it really made very little difference, since they were strolling aimlessly and didn't care where they were going, but nevertheless Mother was angry at Father and couldn't keep from remarking, "He even gives in to a couple of twelve-year-olds!

A new assault of noise interrupted the recollection: some men wearing hardhats were pounding the asphalt with pneumatic drills. Into this racket, from somewhere overhead, as if from heaven, came a piano rendition of a Bach fugue.

Someone on a top floor had evidently opened a window and turned up the volume all the way, so that Bach's severe beauty sounded a warning to a world that had gone awry.

However, Bach's fugue was no match for the pneumatic drills and cars; on the contrary, cars and drills appropriated Bach as part of their own fugue, so that Agnes had to cover her ears with her hands and continued to walk like that down the street. At that moment a passerby coming in the opposite direction gave her an angry glance and tapped his forehead, which in the international language of gestures says that you are crazy, scatterbrained, or weak in the head.

Agnes caught that glance, that hatred, and was seized by a furious anger. She stopped. She wanted to throw herself at that person. She wanted to strike him. But she couldn't; the crowd was already pushing him along and somebody bumped into her, because on the sidewalk it was impossible to stop for more than three seconds. She had to keep walking, but she couldn't stop thinking of him: both of them were caught up in the same noise and yet he found it necessary to make her understand that she had no reason and perhaps not even MILAN KUNDERA any right to cover her ears.

That man was censuring her for the trespass of her gesture. It was equality itself that reprimanded her for refusing to undergo what everyone must undergo. It was equality itself that forbade her to disagree with the world in which all of us live. The longing to kill that man was not just a fleeting reaction. Even after the immediate excitement had passed, that longing remained, though it was joined by her surprise that she was capable of such hatred.

The image of a person tapping his forehead floated in her innards like a fish full of poison, slowly decaying and impossible to spew out. The memory of Father came back to her. Ever since shohad seen him retreat from those twelve-year- old boys she often imagined him in this situation: he is on a sinking ship; there are only a few lifeboats and there isn't room for everyone; there is a furious stampede on deck.

At first Father rushes along with the others, but when he sees how they all push and shove, ready to trample each other underfoot, and a wild-eyed woman strikes him with her fist because he is in her way, he suddenly stops and steps aside. And in the end he merely watches the overloaded lifeboats as they are slowly lowered amid shouts and curses, toward the raging waves. What name to give this attitude?

Cowards are afraid of dying and will fight to survive. Undoubtedly, if he had acted out of regard for his fellows. But Agnes did not believe this was his motive.

What was it then? She couldn't say. Only one thing seemed certain: on a sinking ship where it was necessary to fight in order to board a lifeboat, Father would have been condemned in advance. Yes, that much was certain. The question that arises is this: had Father hated the people on the ship, just as she now hates the motorcyclist and the man who mocked her because she covered her ears? No, Agnes cannot imagine that Father was capable of hatred.

Hate traps us by binding us too tightly to our adversary. This is the obscenity of war: the intimacy of mutually shed blood, the lascivious proximity of two soldiers who, eye to eye, bayonet each other. Agnes was sure: it was precisely this kind of intimacy that Father found repugnant.

The melee on the ship filled him with such disgust that he preferred to Immortality drown.As she was saying good-bye to him on the last day, she knew that they wouldn't see each other again for a long time. Those pictures are really impossible! Kundera, W. The last words sound melancholy, and the commander looks the poet in the eye: But how could she feel at home in a room with a dining table and eight chairs used only for dinner guests?

The outfit seemed to make her behind even heavier and closer to the ground. I kept looking in the mirror for such a long time that I finally believed that what I was seeing was my self.

FLORINDA from Killeen
See my other articles. I take pleasure in couponing. I do fancy reading comics triumphantly.
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