17.6 C
Los Angeles
sábado, abril 20, 2024
Home FR Milan Kundera, existential novelist, has died

Milan Kundera, existential novelist, has died


A tireless champion of the novel and fiction’s rights, the Czech-born creator of ‘The Insufferable Lightness of Being’, who turned a naturalized French citizen in 1981, died on July 11, on the age of 94.

Lire en français
gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Milan Kundera, existential novelist, has died

The novelist Milan Kundera, born April 1, 1929, in Brno, Moravia (then a part of the Czechoslovak Republic) died in Paris on July 11 on the age of 94, his writer Gallimard confirmed to Le Monde. He was a “novelist,” not a “author,” within the full which means that he gave to the artwork of the novel, which he noticed as a way of complete data – aesthetic relatively than theoretical. He described this demanding program of poetic meditation on existence in his essay Testaments Betrayed (1993), as “an outlook, a knowledge, a place; a place that may rule out identification with any politics, any faith, any ideology, any ethical doctrine, any group.”

Kundera by no means ceased to specific his attachment to an entire custom of “world literature,” from Cervantes to Carlos Fuentes, from Goethe to Diderot, from Kafka to Musil. His artwork of the novel acutely questioned the territories, stakes and temporality of a style traditionally below pressure, threatened at occasions by inside exhaustion and at others by exterior aggression.

Kundera’s immediate dedication to Salman Rushdie, in 1988, on the time of the Satanic Verses debacle, was an exemplary reminder of the ever-present urgency to defend fiction’s inalienable rights. He was a “French” novelist, by private decree and by an elective affinity for a rustic that welcomed migrants, which in 1981, allowed him to get citizenship after he had been stripped of his Czech nationality in 1979. However above all, it was for his “second mom tongue” conquered in a tough wrestle towards the dictates of historical past. This was the tragically confused historical past of the 20th century, or of the “kidnapped West,” as he expressed it: A historical past towards which he continuously pitted his private life and work in a number of twists and turns, and sometimes towards a backdrop of violent controversy and calumny.

An suave joker

“I used to be born on April 1. This has a metaphysical significance,” Kundera advised his good friend and compatriot Antonin Liehm – the signal little question of an suave joker to which he devoted his most well-known title in The Joke, in 1967, in addition to a nod to the favored hero of a satire, The Good Soldier Svejk (1923) by the novelist’s compatriot Hasek, and raised to the standing of nationwide emblem.

A recent of a nation newly reshaped by the interwar interval, after and earlier than different tectonic shifts, Kundera was born right into a household of the educated elite of the impartial republic, ruled by its first president, Tomas Mazaryk. His father, a scholar of the composer Leos Janacek and piano instructor on the Brno Conservatory, gave his son a really high-level musical schooling, the affect of which will be present in each the rules of composition and within the central leitmotifs that permeate Kundera’s work. The reflection on rhythm and acceleration; the mixture of tempi and polyphony, of legato and staccato articulations and the fugue and the coda display a wonderfully assimilated lesson in musical modernity, of Arnold Schoenberg particularly.

As a young person, he was a wonderful musician (who additionally tried his hand at composition), he nonetheless adopted a special path for his college research, which led the Moravian nation boy to the capital, Prague. Alongside along with his work as a literature assistant, he additionally studied screenwriting and directing on the Prague movie academy (FAMU), an expertise that may be mirrored in his later work and to which it will even be indebted for its thematic and enhancing results, in a wealthy and turbulent dialogue of the humanities.

A brief cinematic idyll

Though, in his youth, Kundera zealously frequented representatives of the sensible Czech New Wave, comparable to Milos Forman, Jiri Menzel and Juraj Herz; and though he collaborated within the movie adaptation of The Joke (1968) and authorized the one which Hynek Bocan proposed for a brief story printed in his assortment Laughable Loves (1970), the cinematic idyll was short-lived. Kundera’s positions had been radicalized by his exile in France (1975) and literary recognition, and hardened his stance towards what he known as “rewriting.”

In 1988, he rejected Philippe Kaufman’s cinematic adaptation of his bestseller The Insufferable Lightness of Being (1984). And his criticism of how visible artwork had been degraded into “imagology” and eventualities into “storytelling” was unleashed in his essays and in his novel Slowness (1995), with excoriating humor and sarcasm. To know the generally gritty notes and the compelled laughter that run by means of the refrains of this piece in two languages and two areas, it’s essential to repeat da capo the meandering of a tortuous private and mental path, braving a number of the creator’s personal prohibitions, beginning in posthumous immediacy with probably the most intimidating of all – virulent antibiographism. At first of “The novelist (and his life)” entry in The Artwork of the Novel (1986), we learn: “The novelist destroys the home of his life and makes use of its stones to construct the home of his novel. From which it follows {that a} novelist’s biographers unmake what the novelist made, and remake what he unmade.”

Learn extra Article réservé à nos abonnés Within the firm of Milan Kundera

This sometimes Kundera aphorism, a cult for some and a supply of irritation for others, known as for transgression, a pious infidelity, to be able to put the enemy historical past in its personal and solely rightful place. For if the historic particular person permits himself to be mystified in Kundera’s work, it’s as a result of it’s generally in his curiosity to be fooled, the higher to control in his flip, when the time is true.

Kundera’s Czech interval – abruptly interrupted by his exile in France, first in Rennes, then in Paris, the place he and his spouse Vera have been made welcome because of the assistance of Louis Aragon and Claude Roy – is inseparable from the vicissitudes of post-Yalta historical past, and the relative latitude then provided by the Communist regime to a promising younger and gifted mental.

Younger opportunist

In February 1948, a coup d’état in Czechoslovakia introduced the communist Klement Gottwald to energy. The younger Kundera had change into a member of the social gathering barely earlier, from which he was excluded for the primary time in 1950. Was this the results of a elementary ideological dissent or just a youthful outburst, like Ludvik, the hero of The Joke? The information are nonetheless being debated. And if he knew about it, how did the younger man reply to the shame of the Communist Celebration chief Vladimir Clementis in 1952? It’s a thriller. The story was to reappear later in an ironic apologue in The Ebook of Laughter and Forgetting (1979), describing the partial deletion of the outcast from the official picture, by which solely the fur hat stays – sic transit gloria mundi (Thus passes the glory of the world).

gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Milan Kundera, existential novelist, has died

In any case, Kundera rejoined the Communist Celebration within the mid-Fifties, which allowed him to publish two collections of lyrical poetry Man: A Broad Backyard (1953), Monologues (1957) and an extended epic poem “The Final Might” (1955) that he devoted to Julius Fucik, a communist Czech resistance fighter executed by the Nazis. As well as, he produced a group of essays and the play The Homeowners of the Keys (1962). The younger opportunist wrote just a few extra excusable propaganda texts, prefaces and afterwords, which no less than indicated that he was a widely known and publicly acknowledged creator. He acquired official prizes and benefited, as others did, from the secondary benefits of protected standing, in return for an ideologically uncontroversial and relatively conformist output.

Maybe resulting from a leisure of the regime, Monologues marked an aesthetic turning level on this interval of poetic manufacturing constrained by circumstances: The declare to an inside life is expressed; the non-public lyricism provides respiratory house and breaches the vein of revolutionary pathos in its pure state. Kundera later mercilessly shredded this era of immaturity by means of the character of Jaromil, his “experimental ego” on paper, and the ludicrous poet of  Life is Elsewhere (1973), for which the novelist was awarded the Prix Médicis.

Rising expertise

It’s undoubtedly the play The Homeowners of the Keys, which was an ideal success when it opened, and was translated into a number of languages, together with French in 1969, that introduced Kundera’s nascent expertise to gentle. It confirmed his talent at combining superficial respect for the realist Zhdanovian doctrine (the alliance of employees and intellectuals and anti-Nazi resistance and so forth) and dramatic conditions that he exploited in a register akin to the theater of the absurd.

For a time, Kundera was pleasant with Vaclav Havel (1936-2011), however fell out with him over the query of “Czech future,” and positioned his hope within the Prague Spring in 1968. He printed his novella Laughable Loves and his novel The Joke in his personal nation with none censorship constraints. The crushing of the Prague Spring didn’t stop him from persevering with to show, however at the price of a steady wrestle, bullying, and growing humiliations.

As heartbreaking as the choice was, the chance to to migrate marked the start of a brand new period, a quasi-literary renaissance, which reached its peak within the late Eighties with the autumn of the Berlin Wall. In France, there was renewed curiosity in Central European literature, conveyed by journals comparable to Le Messager européen (The European Messenger) and L’Atelier du roman (The Novel Workshop). Kundera first taught cinema in Brittany, then in Paris the place he was launched to the Parisian mental milieu, and his work was translated and printed by Gallimard.

A hyper-controlled conception of the work

His literary work, soaked with the phenomenology of emotion, succeeded in bringing collectively an unlimited worldwide readership of fanatics, intellectuals and tutorial circles, significantly in Canada below the management of François Ricard. In France, Italy and Germany he garnered consideration round themes now related along with his poetics of the novel: eroticism and libertinism (The Insufferable Lightness of Being), derision (The Farewell Waltz, 1976; Laughable Loves), the refusal of kitsch (all through his work) and phantasm lethal lyric (Life is Elsewhere), reminiscence and amnesia (The Ebook of Laughter and Forgetting), but in addition nostalgia (Ignorance, The Curtain, 2003 and 2005). All within the title of a hyper-controlled conception of the work, which receives a restricted perimeter administered by the only real creator.

“There are two conceptions of what’s a ‘work.’ Both one considers a piece as every little thing that the creator has written; it’s from this perspective, for instance, that writers are sometimes printed within the well-known La Pléiade assortment [book collection], that’s to say with every little thing – each letter, each diary entry. Or the work is just what the creator considers legitimate on the time of the evaluation. I’ve all the time been a vehement supporter of this second conception.”

Kundera’s “creator’s observe,” added to the Czech reissue of The Joke following the Velvet Revolution (1989) – which lifted censorship of his works in his dwelling nation after 20 years of censorship – marks the ethics and bias which are endlessly acknowledged in French in his 4 printed essays. It additionally serves as a rigorous protocol for the “definitive version” in La Pléiade (two volumes) of the work, compiled by Ricard in 2011, however with none crucial equipment or biography of the creator, with just one “biography of the work” below the auspices of the Latin adage: Habent sua fata libelli (“books have their very own future”).

A physique of labor translated into over 80 languages

Kundera, who disowned his early poetic texts and different literary output deemed unworthy of being handed right down to posterity, left a acknowledged physique of 16 works, translated into greater than 80 languages. From 1985, Kundera made the aware transition from his first literary language (Czech) to a “second first” language, French – which has since change into the language of reference for all translations.

Although thematic unity strongly dominates all through his creation, from one language to a different, and from one style to a different, some critics have hoped, generally maliciously, to discover a drying up of inspiration and a few diminution of type related to the transition to direct expression in French, and even issues in writing so as please a world readership. A much less partisan studying nearly permits us to affirm that, quite the opposite, the Kunderian stamp was completely comfy with the drypoint and rhythmic pulse of the French language. This undercover trial undoubtedly hid others that have been extra underhand, or non-literary settlements of accounts such because the one to which Kundera was uncovered in 2008 following allegations of denunciation made by the Czech newspaper Respekt.

On the premise that betrayal performs a central position in his creativeness, why did not Kundera “rat out” Dvoracek in 1950? A late, doubtful accusation, and a typical case of “lustration”, which regardless of the pleasant actions taken by many worldwide intellectuals, left wounds within the outdated man. It dealt a definitive blow to Kundera’s need to resettle in his native nation and hindered the meritorious efforts of Czech intellectuals and lecturers to translate and regionally rehabilitate a bibliography with such a paradoxical reception, as was demonstrated at a wonderful worldwide colloquium in Brno in 2009, his native metropolis.

The unimaginable return of an exile

The novelist’s penultimate novella Ignorance (2003), nearly predicted it, and takes the emotional powers of “pensive fiction” to its climax: Within the staccato rhythm of its 53 chapters, the story weaves the fable of the unimaginable return of the exile. In distinction to the parable of Ulysses, a melancholic variation of which is obtainable within the narrative towards a backdrop of philological reverie. Set in 1990, the story’s Czech protagonists, Josef and Irina are caught up within the insidious work of the “nice broom of historical past,” by which Prague is not a part of Prague, they usually change into definitively transformed to a “liberating exile” extolled by the novelist Vera Linhartova, and quoted by Kundera firstly of his final essay, An Encounter. Printed in 2009, that is undoubtedly probably the most autobiographical of his essays, and even manages to bypass the much-hated “biographical shamelessness” by a delicate weaving of recent and rhapsodic themes, outlined as, “The assembly of my reflections and my recollections; my outdated themes (existential and aesthetic) and my outdated loves (Janacek, François Rabelais, Federico Fellini, Curzio Malaparte).” The daddy determine, already current in The Curtain, passes by means of with emotion and heat.

Kundera, left no organic descendants, however has many literary heirs, “younger shoots” that he has fostered or helped, and having been his buddies in his waning years, they salute his reminiscence with gratitude: Marek Bienczyk the Pole, Patrick Chamoiseau the Frenchman, Adam Thirlwell the Briton, Lakis Proguidis the Greek and Massimo Rizzante the Italian, amongst others.

The truth is, it was in Italy that Kundera’s final novel, The Pageant of Insignificance, was first printed. It was launched in France in 2014. It’s a fantasy in seven actions, below the banner of non-seriousness and jokes, and of lightness as seen by Arthur Schopenhauer – the key of which was held by the discreet novelist.

Martine Boyer-Weinmann(professor of French literature, Lyon-II College)

Translation of an authentic article printed in French on lemonde.fr; the writer might solely be chargeable for the French model.

Vous pouvez lire Le Monde sur un seul appareil à la fois

Ce message s’affichera sur l’autre appareil.

Découvrir les offres multicomptes

  • Parce qu’une autre personne (ou vous) est en practice de lire Le Monde avec ce compte sur un autre appareil.

    Vous ne pouvez lire Le Monde que sur un seul appareil à la fois (ordinateur, téléphone ou tablette).

  • Remark ne plus voir ce message ?

    En cliquant sur «  » et en vous assurant que vous êtes la seule personne à consulter Le Monde avec ce compte.

  • Que se passera-t-il si vous continuez à lire ici ?

    Ce message s’affichera sur l’autre appareil. Ce dernier restera connecté avec ce compte.

  • Y a-t-il d’autres limites ?

    Non. Vous pouvez vous connecter avec votre compte sur autant d’appareils que vous le souhaitez, mais en les utilisant à des moments différents.

  • Vous ignorez qui est l’autre personne ?

    Nous vous conseillons de modifier votre mot de passe.

Lecture restreinte

Votre abonnement n’autorise pas la lecture de cet article

Pour plus d’informations, merci de contacter notre service business.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here