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Hungary Remembers Writer Milan Kundera, the “Guardian of the Central-European Spirit”

Hungary Today 2023.07.12.

The Czech-born novelist and playwright Milan Kundera has died at the age of 94, Anna Márazková, a spokeswoman for the Moravian Provincial Library in Brno, confirmed on Wednesday, reported Hirado.hu. The dual Czech-French citizen, died in Paris on Tuesday after a long illness, informed the writer’s wife Vera Kundera.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán called the late Czech writer the “guardian of the Central-European Spirit” in his social media post.


Milan Kundera was born in 1929 in Brno, southern Moravia, and gained international fame primarily for his novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being, published in the 1960s and later translated into 44 languages. His 1967 novel, The Joke, which was made into a film in 1968, was a caricature of the cult of the personality. The leaders of Czechoslovak cultural policy reacted hysterically: he was expelled from the party, lost his university post and his books were banned from the shelves of shops and libraries.

After actively supporting the reform process of 1968, known as the Prague Spring, he came into conflict with the Czechoslovak communist authorities of the time and emigrated to France in 1975. He was stripped of his Czechoslovak (Czech) citizenship in 1979 and only regained it in 2019.

The Milan Kundera Library, a separate section of the Moravian Provincial Library (MZK), contains more than 3,000 books in 44 languages by the Czech writer, who lived in France from the second half of the 1970s, as well as a large part of his personal archive and correspondence, and the press coverage of his works published around the world. In 2020, the world-famous writer donated his books, archives of articles, letters and other documents to the Moravian Provincial Library in his hometown of Brno.

Balázs Orbán, Political Director of the Prime Minister, wrote on his social media page that Milan Kundera is remembered for his thoughts on Central Europe, a place where Europe is still seen as a value. In his view, the old Europe has become junk, a museum piece with no place in everyday life.
Kundera, on the other hand, says that

as Central Europeans we still remember that we have to give something unique to the world, because that is the condition for Europe’s survival.

If we lose our unique and inimitable traits in the midst of the great integrationist efforts, Kundera believes, we will lose ourselves: our culture, our civilisation and, ultimately, our nation will be lost. Central European culture is therefore not only a question of prestige, but also a condition for survival, wrote the minister.

Tamás Fabinyi, bishop of the Hungarian Lutheran Church quoted the Czech author on his Facebook page by saying that “In these weeks, I often quote these lines from his novel, Slowness: ‘Why has the joy of slowness disappeared? Where are the old rambunctious ones? Where are the idle heroes of the folk songs, the wandering heroes who go from mill to mill and sleep under the stars? Have they disappeared with the paths of the fields, the meadows, the glades, the nature? There is a Czech proverb that defines their sweet idleness in a beautiful simile: they are looking at the windows of God. He who looks at the windows of God is not bored; he is happy’.”


Opposition politician from the Democratic Coalition, Zsolt Gréczy wrote that Kundera was an inescapable figure in the literature of Central Europe. May he rest in peace!

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Via Hirado.hu; Featured Photo: Wikipedia

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