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Encyclopedia > Milan Kundera

Milan Kundera (IPA: ['milɑn 'kundɛra]) (born April 1, 1929 in Brno, Czechoslovakia) is a Czech-born writer who writes in both Czech and French. He is best known as the author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, and The Joke. For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words see here. ... April 1 is the 91st day of the year (92nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar, with 274 days remaining. ... 1929 (MCMXXIX) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will take you to calendar). ... Brno ( ) (IPA: ) (Czech: Brno) (German: Brünn) is the second largest city in the Czech Republic. ... The term writer can apply to anyone who creates a written work, but the word more usually designates those who write creatively or professionally, or those who have written in many different forms. ... The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Czech language: Nesnesitelná lehkost bytí) is a novel written by Milan Kundera in 1984. ... The Book of Laughter and Forgetting is a novel by Milan Kundera, published in 1979. ... The Joke is Milan Kunderas first novel, originally published in 1967. ...

Contents

Life

He was born into the highly cultured middle class family of Ludvík Kundera (1891-1971), a pupil of the composer Leoš Janáček and an important Czech musicologist and pianist, the head of the Brno Musical Academy between 1948 and 1961. Kundera learned to play the piano with his father. Later, he also studied musicology. Musicological influences and references can be found throughout his work; he even goes so far as putting notes in the text to make a point. LeoÅ¡ Janáček in 1928 LeoÅ¡ Janáček â–¶ (help· info) (July 3, 1854 in Hukvaldy, Moravia – August 12, 1928 in Ostrava) was a Czech composer. ...


The author completed his secondary school studies in Brno in 1948. He studied literature and aesthetics at the Faculty of Arts at Charles University but, after two terms, he transferred to the Film Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, where he first attended lectures in film direction and script writing. In 1950, he was temporarily forced to interrupt his studies for political reasons. After graduating in 1952, he was appointed as lecturer in world literature at the Film Academy. Kundera belonged to the generation of young Czechs who had not properly experienced the pre-war democratic Czechoslovak Republic. Their ideology was greatly influenced by the experiences of World War II and the German occupation; so, in 1948 Kundera, still in his teens, joined the ruling Czechoslovak Communist Party. In 1950, he and another Czech writer, Jan Trefulka, were expelled from the party for "anti-party activities". Trefulka described the incident in his novella Pršelo jim štěstí (Happiness Rained On Them, 1962), Kundera used the incident as an inspiration for the main theme of his novel Žert (The Joke, 1967). Milan Kundera was re-admitted into the Communist Party in 1956. In 1970, he was expelled from the Party for the second time. Kundera, along with other Czech artists and writers such as Václav Havel, was involved in the 1968 Prague Spring, the brief period of reformist optimism that was eventually crushed by a Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August of 1968, at which point he withdrew from Czech culture completely, forbidding the translation of his texts written in French into Czech (though he did approve the republication of his older works). Brno ( ) (IPA: ) (Czech: Brno) (German: Brünn) is the second largest city in the Czech Republic. ... The Academy of Performing Arts in Prague is a university level school of music, dance, drama, film, TV and multi-media studies. ... Czechoslovakia (Czech: Československo, Slovak: Česko-Slovensko/before 1990 Československo) was a country in Central Europe that existed from 1918 until 1992 (except for the World War II period). ... Combatants Major Allied powers: United Kingdom Soviet Union United States Republic of China and others Major Axis powers: Nazi Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Harry Truman Chiang Kai-Shek Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tojo Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead... The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, in Czech and in Slovak: Komunistická strana Československa (KSČ) was a political party in Czechoslovakia that existed between 1921 and 1992. ... The Joke is Milan Kunderas first novel, originally published in 1967. ... See also: 1966 in literature, other events of 1967, 1968 in literature, list of years in literature. ... In modern usage, a communist party is a political party which promotes communism, the sociopolitical ideology based on Marxism. ... Václav Havel (official portrait) Václav Havel, GCB, CC (IPA: ) (VA-slav HA-vel) (born October 5, 1936) is a Czech writer and dramatist. ... 1968 (MCMLXVIII) was a leap year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1968 calendar). ... People in a café watch Soviet tanks roll past The Prague Spring (Czech: Pražské jaro, Slovak: Pražská jar, Russian: пражская весна) was a period of political liberalization in Czechoslovakia starting January 5, 1968 when Alexander Dubček came to power, and running until August 20 of that year when the... Motto: Пролетарии всех стран, соединяйтесь! (Transliterated: Proletarii vsekh stran, soedinyaytes!) (Russian: Workers of the world, unite!) Anthem: The Internationale (1922-1944) Hymn of the Soviet Union (1944-1991) Capital (and largest city) Moscow None; Russian de facto Government Federation of Soviet Republics  - Last President Mikhail Gorbachev  - Last Premier Ivan Silayev Establishment October Revolution   - Declared...


Kundera has lived in France since 1975, and has been a French citizen since 1981. 1975 (MCMLXXV) was a common year starting on Wednesday. ...


Work

In his first novel, The Joke, he gave a satirical account of the nature of totalitarianism in the Communist era. Because of his criticism of the Soviets and their 1968 invasion of his homeland, Kundera was black-listed and his works were banned shortly after the Soviet invasion. In 1975, Kundera fled to France. There he wrote The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, (1979) which told of Czech citizens opposing the Soviet regime in various ways. A strange mixture of novel, short story collection, and author's musings, the book set the tone for his post-exile works. This article is about communism as a form of society and as a political movement. ... The Book of Laughter and Forgetting is a novel by Milan Kundera, published in 1979. ... See also: 1978 in literature, other events of 1979, 1980 in literature, list of years in literature. ...


In 1984, he released The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which is his most popular work. The book chronicled the fragile nature of the fate of the individual and how a life lived once may as well have never been lived at all, as there is no possibility for repetition, experiment, and trial and error. In 1988, American director Philip Kaufman released a moderately successful film version of the novel. However, Kundera was quite upset with the film and has since forbidden any adaptations of his novels.[citation needed] In 1990, Kundera released Immortality. The novel, which was his last to be written in Czech, was more cosmopolitan than his others with a more explicit philosophical (and less political) content and would set the tone for his later novels. See also: 1983 in literature, other events of 1984, 1985 in literature, list of years in literature. ... The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Czech language: Nesnesitelná lehkost bytí) is a novel written by Milan Kundera in 1984. ... Philip Kaufman (born October 23, 1936) is a film director and screenwriter from Chicago, Illinois. ...


Kundera has repeatedly insisted that he be considered a novelist in general, rather than a political or dissident writer. Political commentary has all but disappeared from his novels (starting specifically from The Book of Laughter and Forgetting) except in relation to broader philosophical themes. Kundera's style of fiction, interlaced with philosophical digression, greatly inspired by Musil's novels and Nietzsche's prose, is also used by authors Alain de Botton and Adam Thirlwell. Kundera takes his inspiration, as he underlines often enough, not only from the Renaissance of Boccaccio and Rabelais, but also from Sterne, Diderot, Musil, Gombrowicz, Broch, Kafka and Heidegger. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting is a novel by Milan Kundera, published in 1979. ... Robert Musil (November 6, 1880, Klagenfurt, Austria - April 15, 1942, Geneva, Switzerland) was an Austrian writer, author of the unfinished trilogy The Man Without Qualities (in German, Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften), one of the most important modernist novels. ... Friedrich Nietzsche, 1882 Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 - August 25, 1900) was a highly influential German philosopher. ... Alain de Botton, (born 20 December 1969 in Zurich, Switzerland) is a writer. ... Adam Thirlwell (born 1978) is a British novelist and fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. ... Raphael was famous for depicting illustrious figures of the Classical past with the features of his Renaissance contemporaries. ... Giovanni Boccaccio (June 16, 1313 - December 21, 1375) was a Florentine author and poet, the greatest of Petrarchs disciples, an important Renaissance humanist in his own right and author of a number of notable works including On Famous Women, the Decameron and his poems in the vernacular. ... François Rabelais (ca. ... Laurence Sterne Laurence Sterne (November 24, 1713 – March 18, 1768) was an Anglo-Irish novelist and clergyman. ... Portrait of Diderot by Louis-Michel van Loo, 1767 Denis Diderot (October 5, 1713 – July 31, 1784) was a French philosopher and writer. ... Robert Musil (Klagenfurt, Austria, November 6, 1880 – April 15, 1942 in Geneva, Switzerland) was an Austrian writer, author of the unfinished long novel The Man Without Qualities (in German, Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften), one of the most important modernist novels. ... Witold Gombrowicz (August 4, 1904, MaÅ‚oszyce, near Kielce, Poland – July 24, 1969, Vence, near Nice, France) was a Polish novelist and dramatist active from the 1930s until the end of his life. ... Hermann Broch (November 1, 1886 - May 30, 1951) was a 20th century Austrian writer, considered one of the major Modernists. ... Kafka at the age of five Franz Kafka (IPA: ) (July 3, 1883 – June 3, 1924) was one of the major German-language novelists and short story writers of the 20th century, whose unique body of writing — much of it incomplete, and published posthumously despite his wish that it be destroyed... Martin Heidegger (September 26, 1889 – May 26, 1976) was an influential German philosopher, best known as the author of Being and Time (1927). ...


He also digresses in musical matters, talking about Czech folk music, and quoting Bartok and Janacek, as well as inserting musical notes (The Joke) in the text, or talking about Schoenberg and atonality, as well of course about political extensions (Ignorance). B la Bart k (March 25, 1881 – September 26, 1945) was a composer, pianist and collector of East European folk music. ... The title given to this article is incorrect due to technical limitations. ... Arnold Schoenberg, Los Angeles, 1948 Arnold Schoenberg, (the anglicized form of Schönberg—Schoenberg changed the spelling officially when he became a U.S. citizen) (September 13, 1874 – July 13, 1951) was a composer, born in Vienna, Austria. ... Atonality describes music not conforming to the system of tonal hierarchies, which characterizes the sound of classical European music between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. ...


His latter books are in French, while his first books were written in Czech; between 1985 and 1987 he undertook the revision of their French translations. As a result, all of his books exist in French with the authority of the original.


His books have known extensive translations aside the original Czech or French, including English, German, Spanish, Greek and Chinese.


Writing style and philosophy

Kundera's characters are generally depicted specifically as figments of his imagination, not as real human beings merely depicted—as opposed to created—by his writing. Kundera is more concerned in the words that shape or mold his characters than their physical appearances. In his non-fiction work The Art of a Novel he says that the reader's imagination automatically completes the writer's vision. But he really does this to focus only on the essential. Generally physical appearances and even the character's interior world(the psychological world) are irrelevant. His means of grasping the characters lies rooted elsewhere... Rooted in their existential themes.


It has also been suggested (François Ricard, 2003) that Kundera works within an overall oeuvre, rather than limiting his ideas to the scope of just one novel at a time. Rather, themes and meta-themes exist across the entire oeuvre, and each new stage of his own thinking process reflected in the books serves to reflect upon these same ideas. Some of these meta-themes are exile, identity, life beyond the border (beyond love, beyond art, beyond seriousness), history as continual return, and the pleasure of a less "important" life. Opus, from the Latin word opus meaning work, is usually used in the sense of a work of art. Some composers musical pieces are identified by opus numbers which generally run either in order of composition or in order of publication. ...


Many of his characters are based on one of these themes at the expense of a fully-developed humanity. Specifics in regard to the characters tend to be rather vague. Often, more than one main character is used in a novel, even to the extent of completely discontinuing a character and resuming the plot with a brand new character.


Awards

In 1985 Kundera received the Jerusalem Prize. His acceptance address is printed in his essay collection The Art of the Novel. It has also been rumored that he was considered for the Nobel Prize for literature[1]. The Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society is a biennial literary award given to writers whose work has dealt with themes of human freedom, society, politics, and government. ... The Nobel Prize in literature is awarded annually to an author from any country who has produced the most outstanding work of an idealistic tendency. The work in this case generally refers to an authors work as a whole, not to any individual work, though individual works are sometimes...


Bibliography

  • The Joke (Žert) (1967; Eng. trans., 1982)
  • Laughable Loves (Směšné lásky), a collection of short stories originally published in the 1960s (Eng. trans., 1974)
  • Life Is Elsewhere (Život je jinde) (1969; Eng. trans., 1974)
  • Jacques and His Master (Jakub a jeho pán: Pocta Denisu Diderotovi), 1975 (dramatization of Diderot's Jacques le fataliste et son maître)
  • The Farewell Waltz (Valčík na rozloučenou), 1976 (Previous title translation: The Farewell Party)
  • The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (Kniha smíchu a zapomnění) (1979; Eng. trans., 1980)
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Nesnesitelná lehkost bytí) (1984; Eng. trans., 1984). (film)
  • The Art of the Novel (L'art du roman), 1985
  • Immortality (Nesmrtelnost), 1990
  • Testaments Betrayed (Les testaments trahis), 1992
  • Slowness (La Lenteur), 1993
  • Identity (L'Identité), 1998
  • Ignorance (L'Ignorance), 2000
  • The Curtain (Le Rideau), 2005

The Joke is Milan Kunderas first novel, originally published in 1967. ... Laughable Loves is a collection of seven short stories written by Milan Kundera in which he presents his characteristic savage humour by mixing the extremes of tragedy with comic situations. ... Portrait of Diderot by Louis-Michel van Loo, 1767 Denis Diderot (October 5, 1713 – July 31, 1784) was a French philosopher and writer. ... Jacques le fataliste et son maître (English title: Jacques the Fatalist and his Master) is a book written by Denis Diderot from the late 1760s to 1778 and published in 1796. ... The Book of Laughter and Forgetting is a novel by Milan Kundera, published in 1979. ... The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Czech language: Nesnesitelná lehkost bytí) is a novel written by Milan Kundera in 1984. ... Slowness: A Novel, published in 1993, is a novel by Milan Kundera. ... Identity is a novel by Franco-Czech writer Milan Kundera, published in 1998. ... English edition of Ignorance‎ Ignorance is a novel by Milan Kundera. ... The Curtain is a seven-part essay by Milan Kundera, along with The Art of the Novel and Testaments Betrayed composing a type of trilogy of book-length essays on the European novel. ...

External links


Cornell is the name of some places in the United States of America. ...

Works by Milan Kundera
Novels: The Joke | Laughable Loves | Life Is Elsewhere | The Farewell Waltz | The Book of Laughter and Forgetting | The Unbearable Lightness of Being | Immortality | Slowness | Identity | Ignorance
Non-fiction: The Art of the Novel | Testaments Betrayed | The Curtain
Plays: Jacques and His Master

Image:Http://jonathan.touboul.free.fr/IMG/rubon24.jpg The Joke is Milan Kunderas first novel, originally published in 1967. ... Laughable Loves is a collection of seven short stories written by Milan Kundera in which he presents his characteristic savage humour by mixing the extremes of tragedy with comic situations. ... The Book of Laughter and Forgetting is a novel by Milan Kundera, published in 1979. ... The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Czech language: Nesnesitelná lehkost bytí) is a novel written by Milan Kundera in 1984. ... Slowness: A Novel, published in 1993, is a novel by Milan Kundera. ... Identity is a novel by Franco-Czech writer Milan Kundera, published in 1998. ... English edition of Ignorance‎ Ignorance is a novel by Milan Kundera. ... The Curtain is a seven-part essay by Milan Kundera, along with The Art of the Novel and Testaments Betrayed composing a type of trilogy of book-length essays on the European novel. ...


  Results from FactBites:
 
Milan Kundera (12009 words)
Milan Kundera started writing it during the liberal Prague Spring of 1968 and completed it in 1970, during the first wave of the post-1968 clampdown in Czechoslovakia.
The departure from Czechoslovakia was a watershed for Kundera.
Kundera deliberately produces a complicated structure, a mosaic of events where themes and motives from various parts of the novel are interrelated in an intricate, precarious balance.
Milan Kundera Biography (born 1929) (903 words)
At the time The Joke was written and published, Kundera served as an opposition leader in the reform movement that resulted in the Prague Spring of 1968, in which Czech artists and intellectuals led a cultural uprising denouncing governmental repression of the arts.
Eschewing the straightforward linear narrative, Kundera constructs his novels by putting together a series of seemingly unconnected "stories" that are nonetheless related through theme or situation.
Often described as ironic, satiric, pessimistic, and erotic, Kundera's work is difficult to capture in a brief summary, which amuses the novelist because he dislikes the Western media's penchant for reducing art to brief explanatory descriptions.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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