Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Czech-born author Milan Kundera dies aged 94

12 July - XII - was filled with those rare surreal mirror mirror on the door 🚪 moments as physio took me on a journey to mittleurope … and I am reflecting on the morning scene as JH stood next to the masses of real and symbolic broken door glass only to escape into a lift C with moi … And I just finished evening re-reading MJ’s - Like Poor Green, not Brown, in Rake I have two MJs in my life - ‘Catch me if you Kan’ that reads better than any Hollywood action type constitutional objector daring thriller …

I followed Milan’s stories and books since I was a Revolution inspired boy back in 1968 as Prague Spring was born and then in exile as during bicentennial Antipodean celebration Milan’s book 📕 became a film 🎥 in 1988. A book that has so many meanings to those lost in the unbearable heaviness of Soviet living … Strangely at work one still encounters those unbearable military types who are always right …

True human goodness, in all its purity and freedom, can come to the fore only when its recipient has no power. ~ Milan Kundera (1929-2023)

Making love with a woman and sleeping with a woman are two separate passions, not merely different but opposite. Love does not make itself felt in the desire for copulation (a desire that extends to an infinite number of women) but in the desire for shared sleep (a desire limited to one woman).

The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting

Milan Kundera, whose dissident writings in communist Czechoslovakia transformed him into an exiled satirist of totalitarianism, has died in Paris at the age of 94, Czech media says.

Milan Kundera's last joke - UnHerd

Could someone fake Being Unberable Lightness of Being author ✍️ Milan?

Reading the piece led me to this jewel of a conversation with Philip Roth; "I learned the value of humour during the time of Stalinist terror. I could always recognise a person who was not a Stalinist, a person whom I needn't fear, by the way he smiled."

The author of “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” he was known for sexually charged novels that captured the suffocating absurdity of life in his native Czechoslovakia.

Milan Kundera, author of ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being,’ dies at 94 His widely translated novels mixed philosophical speculation with political critique and erotic reverie

The stupidity of people comes from having an answer for everything. The wisdom of the novel comes from having a question for everything. When Don Quixote went out into the world, that world turned into a mystery before his eyes. That is the legacy of the first European novel to the entire subsequent history of the novel. The novelist teaches the reader to comprehend the world as a question. There is wisdom and tolerance in that attitude. In a world built on sacrosanct certainties the novel is dead. The totalitarian world, whether founded on Marx, Islam, or anything else, is a world of answers rather than questions. There, the novel has no place.

Timothy Garton Ash @fromTGA

 Milan Kundera: The Unbearable Lightness of Being author dies aged 94 The Czech novelist found himself silenced by the communist regime at home, but achieved international fame with playfully philosophical fiction

Milan Kundera (UK: /ˈkʊndərə, ˈkʌn-/,[1][2] Czech: [ˈmɪlan ˈkundɛra] (listen); 1 April 1929 – 11 July 2023) was a Czech-born French writer

Milan Kundera (1929-2023) 

       As widely noted, author Milan Kundera has passed away; see, for example, obituaries in The Guardian (by Adam Thirlwell) and The New York Times (presumably paywalled)(by Daniel Lewis); see also Faber remembers Milan Kunderafrom his UK publisher, and, in The New York Times, Dwight Garner's 'appraisal',  In Milan Kundera's Work, the Erotic Meets the Subversive (presumably also paywalled) 
       Kundera was among a relatively small number of authors who switched languages well into their careers (Nabokov is another), writing first in Czech and later in French. 
       I read most of Kundera's work before I started the site, but several of his works are under review at the complete review:

       Also of interest: via I am pointed to this 1999 piece by Caleb Crain, Milan Kundera Is on the Outs With His Translators; But Who's Betraying Whom ? (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) 

Czech-born author Milan Kundera dies aged 94 By Robert Muller and Jan Lopatka

Czech-born writer Milan Kundera, author of the novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being who lived nearly five decades in Paris, has died at the age of 94.

The Moravian Library (MZK), which houses Kundera’s personal collection, said he had died in his Paris apartment on Tuesday after a long illness.

Milan Kundera in 1987.

Milan Kundera in 1987.

Kundera won accolades for the way he depicted themes and characters that floated between the mundane reality of everyday life and the lofty world of ideas.

“Milan Kundera was a writer who reached whole generations of readers across all continents and achieved global fame,” Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said.

The cover of Kundera’s 1984 novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

The cover of Kundera’s 1984 novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being.CREDIT: 

“He leaves behind not only notable fiction, but also significant essay work.”

Kundera was born in the Czech city of Brno but emigrated to France in 1975 after being ostracised for criticising the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia to put down the liberal reform movement of the Prague Spring in 1968.

He rarely gave interviews, believing writers should speak through their work, but his relationship with his home country was often difficult after his departure.

His first novel, The Joke, was published in 1967 and offered a scathing portrayal of the Czechoslovak Communist regime and the party he was still a member of.

He ultimately abandoned his hopes that the party could be reformed, and moved to France in 1975. Four years later he was stripped of his Czechoslovak citizenship.

He told the French daily Le Monde in 1976 that to call his works political was to oversimplify, and therefore obscure their true significance, but his books often took a political tone.

Milan Kundera in May 1968.

Milan Kundera in May 1968.CREDIT: PAVEL VACHA/CTK VIA AP

The Book of Laughter and Forgetting(1979) was a story written in seven parts that showed the power of totalitarian regimes to erase parts of history and create an alternative past.

His most famous work, The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984), centred on the Prague Spring and its aftermath.

It was made into a film starring Daniel Day-Lewis and directed by Philip Kaufman in 1988 that earned two Academy Award nominations.

Kundera was made a citizen of the Czech Republic in 2019.