Milan Kundera, Czech novelist identified for ‘The Insufferable Lightness of Being,’ dies


The award-winning Czech writer Milan Kundera, whose legacy contains the novels “The Insufferable Lightness of Being” and “The Pageant of Insignificance,” has died in Paris. He was 94.

The French publishing home Gallimard introduced Kundera’s demise Tuesday, in line with the Related Press. The Gallimard web site featured a banner of Kundera with the years of his beginning and demise.

“Milan Kundera was a author who was in a position to attain generations of readers throughout all continents together with his work and achieved world fame…,” Petr Fiala, prime minister of the Czech Republic, stated in a Wednesday tweet translated from Czech. “He left behind not solely a outstanding work of fiction, but in addition an essential work of essays.”

Born in 1929 in what was then Czechoslovakia, Kundera was identified for intertwining erotic tones with anti-Soviet sentiment briefly tales, essays and poems. His hottest work, 1984’s “The Insufferable Lightness of Being,” finest exemplified his method to literature — weaving themes of affection, politics and exile right into a novel that may earn him vital acclaim amongst his literary group.

Set within the late ’60s and early ’70s, “The Insufferable Lightness of Being” particulars the lasting impact of the Soviet-led invasion of the nation in 1968 via the lives of 4 Czech residents. In 1985, Kundera and his novel received the Jerusalem Prize for literature, a biennial award given to writers whose work exemplifies the liberty of the person.

The excellence of “The Insufferable Lightness of Being” transcended mediums. 4 years later, Kundera’s novel was tailored into Philip Kaufman’s movie of the identical title; it starred Daniel Day-Lewis, Juliette Binoche and Lena Olin. The film obtained two Oscar nominations in 1989, together with for tailored screenplay.

Kundera, son of musicologist Ludvík Kundera, had a sophisticated relationship together with his residence nation’s communist historical past, which might have an effect on the attain of his works. An on again-off once more member of the Communist Social gathering of Czechoslovakia, Kundera revealed his first novel, “The Joke,” in 1967. “The Joke,” which begins off following a younger man dispatched to the mines for poking enjoyable at communist slogans, was — like plenty of Kundera’s works — banned in Czechoslovakia after the Soviet invasion in 1968.

Across the identical time, he misplaced his job as a professor of cinema in his residence nation. In 1975, Kundera began anew in France together with his spouse, Věra, taking over a instructing place on the College of Rennes. Having been stripped of his Czech citizenship, he turned a naturalized French citizen in 1981. (His Czech citizenship was restored in 2019.)

Kundera continued writing novels, together with “Immortality,” “Id” and “Ignorance,” which have been revealed in French. He launched his remaining ebook, “The Pageant of Insignificance,” in 2015. In his later years, Kundera allowed the interpretation into Czech of his French-language works.

In 2008, the writer was on the heart of an argument prompted by a report from the Czech Republic’s Institute for the Examine of Totalitarian Regimes, alleging that when he was a 21-year-old scholar, he knowledgeable secret police about somebody in his dormitory. The person Kundera allegedly reported was convicted of espionage and sentenced to exhausting labor for 22 years.

Kundera denied the allegation.

Kundera not often spoke to the media and sometimes refused to look on digicam. In a 2012 speech on the Nationwide Library of France, the writer stated he wouldn’t enable digital copies of his writing to be revealed and criticized the state of literature in a tech-driven world.

“For a number of years now, I’ve in all my contracts a clause stipulating that [my works] have to be revealed solely within the conventional type of a ebook, that they be learn solely on paper and never on a display,” he stated. “Individuals stroll on the street, they not have contact with these round them, they don’t even see the properties they go, they’ve wires hanging from their ears. They gesticulate, they need to, they take a look at nobody and nobody seems at them. I ask myself, ‘Do they even learn books anymore?’ It’s attainable, however for a way for much longer?”

Now, nonetheless, book variations of “The Insufferable Lightness of Being” and myriad different Kundera books are extensively out there.

In 2021, Kundera donated his personal library and archive to the public library in his hometown of Brno within the Czech Republic. Donated gadgets embrace editions of his works in Czech and 40 different languages, newspaper clippings, his drawings and evaluations of his work.

In a uncommon interview with the Paris Evaluation in 1983, Kundera stated “a novel is a meditation on existence, seen via imaginary characters.”

“The shape is limitless freedom,” he added. “All through its historical past, the novel has by no means identified easy methods to make the most of its countless potentialities. It missed its probability.”

The Related Press contributed to this report.


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