Despite Kundera's own assertion that Nietzsche's eternal recurrence can only be interpreted metaphorically, he manifests four different forms of this philosophy by means of the lives he describes. These indeed include the literal interpretation, where actions and events literally repeat throughout a lifetime; the collective, where similar events occur in different lives but in similar relationships; the symbolic, where symbols recur within lifetimes, and the metaphorical, which Kundera describes in the beginning of the novel, where the same events occur in different forms. These forms of recurrence deserve some more detailed discussion, as follows.

Literal Recurrence

Tereza and Tomas's relationship is somewhat problematic from the beginning, but no less inevitable for it. It is as if the decision to stay together despite the fact that their needs and goals are incompatible is made on their behalf by a power similar to fate. Hence the various fateful events that resulted in...
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