"Then she told him her dream"

This is the first of a series of dreams related in the book. Most of them are Tereza’s, and most of them will be nightmares, or at best mysterious and unpleasant. This one is about her having to watch Tomas and Sabina making love. A few pages later we’ll hear about her repeated nightmares of being torn at by cats, Tomas shooting naked women at a swimming pool, and of being dead in a hearse with a bunch of other women (section 8 of Part One, page 18).

After their trip to the spa town with all its names changed to Russian, she wakes up in tears from a dream of being buried while Tomas has gone off to be with another woman (section 18 of Part Five). The swimming pool dream turns up again in section 15 of Part Two (pages 57-58).

Some of Tereza’s dreams will not be announced as dreams, but will be narrated as if real and only be identifiable as dreams by their strangeness, or by the narrator afterwards. For example, the long and detailed story of her near-execution on Petrin Hill (sections 11-14 of Part Four) seems real but very strange, and it is only much later (section 1 of Part Seven, page 282) that the narrator casually comments that “the incident with the engineer so merged with the scene on Petrin Hill that she was hard put to tell which was a dream and which the truth.”

Only late in the book will the narrator share a couple of Tomas’s dreams, and Tereza’s dreams will take a significant turn. Thus Kundera illustrates what the narrator criticizes Freud for having overlooked: that dreaming is a creative process, and that dreams can be beautiful (see Bookmark, page 59).