Definitions

Kundera

Kundera

[koon-der-uh; Czech koon-de-rah]
Kundera, Milan, 1929-, Czechslovakian-born novelist and essayist. The publication of his first novel, The Joke (1967, tr. 1974), a satire of Stalinist Czechoslovakia in the 1950s, roughly coincided with the 1968 Soviet invasion of his homeland. The book and his criticism of the invasion brought Kundera, formerly a committed communist, severe disapproval by the new government, and were key factors in the banning of his work, his expulsion from the Communist party, and the loss of both his teaching position and his citizenship. These events led to his decision to flee Czechoslovakia and settle (1975) in France, where he became (1981) a citizen.

His widely translated fiction, which is often set against a totalitarian backdrop yet is usually apolitical in tone, looks ironically at love, sex, and the possibility of spiritual fulfillment in the modern age. His works frequently treat themes of exile and return, memory and forgetfulness, nostalgia and regret. Kundera's most acclaimed novels are The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (1979, tr. 1980, 1996) and The Unbearable Lightness of Being (tr. 1984). Among his other novels are Life Is Elsewhere (tr. 1974, 2000) and Immortality (1990, tr. 1991), both written in Czech; and Slowness (1995, tr. 1996), Identity (1997, tr. 1998), and Ignorance (2000, tr. 2002), all originally in French. He has also written plays, short stories, poetry, and essays. Among the latter are three collections containing his reflections on fiction, The Art of the Novel (1986, tr. 1988), Testaments Betrayed (tr. 1995), and The Curtain (2005, tr. 2007).

See studies by M. N. Banerjee (1990) and F. Ricard (2003).

(born April 1, 1929, Brno, Czech.) Czech-born French writer. He worked as a jazz musician and taught at Prague's film academy, but he gradually turned to writing. Though a member of the Communist Party for years, his works were banned after he participated in Czechoslovakia's short-lived liberalization movement (1967–68), and he was fired from his teaching positions. He immigrated to France in 1975 and was stripped of his Czech citizenship in 1979; he became a French citizen in 1981. His works combine erotic comedy with political criticism. The Joke (1967), his first novel, describes life under Stalin. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (1979), a series of wittily ironic meditations on the modern state, and the novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984; film, 1988) were banned in his homeland until 1989. His later books include Immortality (1990) and Slowness (1994).

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(born April 1, 1929, Brno, Czech.) Czech-born French writer. He worked as a jazz musician and taught at Prague's film academy, but he gradually turned to writing. Though a member of the Communist Party for years, his works were banned after he participated in Czechoslovakia's short-lived liberalization movement (1967–68), and he was fired from his teaching positions. He immigrated to France in 1975 and was stripped of his Czech citizenship in 1979; he became a French citizen in 1981. His works combine erotic comedy with political criticism. The Joke (1967), his first novel, describes life under Stalin. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (1979), a series of wittily ironic meditations on the modern state, and the novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984; film, 1988) were banned in his homeland until 1989. His later books include Immortality (1990) and Slowness (1994).

Learn more about Kundera, Milan with a free trial on Britannica.com.

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