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  Opinion   Edit  13 Jul 2023  AA EDIT | Farewell Milan Kundera

AA EDIT | Farewell Milan Kundera

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Jul 14, 2023, 12:00 am IST
Updated : Jul 14, 2023, 12:00 am IST

An author, once quoted by a journalist, is no longer master of his word

Milan Kundera’s last work was A Kidnapped West: The Tragedy of Central Europe, published this year. (Image: DC)
 Milan Kundera’s last work was A Kidnapped West: The Tragedy of Central Europe, published this year. (Image: DC)

The world has lost Milan Kundera, who died after a prolonged illness at 94 in his chosen and adopted homeland of France, a very appropriate setting for a writer who defied classification, and a thinker who defied trends.

Born on the All Fools Day of 1929 (April 1) in Brno of the now non-existent nation of Czechoslovakia, he aptly named his first novel, published in 1967, The Joke. He was born to a famous pianist father and so took up music and teaching before turning to writing.

In the heady youthful days, he was an enthusiastic and somewhat idealistic communist, but soon became disillusioned and was expelled by the party. Once he proclaimed freedom of speech for all, it was possibly unbearable for him to continue to live and work in his country of birth and he moved to Paris in 1975.

He wrote his last novel, Immortality, in his mother tongue but moved to writing in French, in which his greatest works were to be written, including his magnum opus, The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Kundera’s oeuvre was rich, diverse and, in the view of most critics and passionate readers, he deserved but did not win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

He was defined by his famous friendships with several authors, among them, Philip Roth, who first focussed global acclaim and attention on Kundera’s work as part of a writer’s series as well as his bitter standoff with the media. “An author, once quoted by a journalist, is no longer master of his word,” he said.

Kundera’s last work was A Kidnapped West: The Tragedy of Central Europe, published this year. After a famous controversy about if he was a spy, he was to return to his homeland and even his citizenship was restored.

The author Kundera is gone but his works will live forever.

Tags: communist, mother tongue, author, milan kundera