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Milan Kundera is dead. The outstanding Czech writer was 94 years old

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The outstanding Czech writer Milan Kundera died on Wednesday at the age of 94. as the author of the novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being, the Reuters agency reported on public Czech television.

One of the greatest European writers of the 20th century, Milan Kundera, has died. Born in Brno, Czech Republic, he fled to France in 1975 and completely distanced himself from his Czech origin. The author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being was considered a valid candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Kundera was born on April 1, 1929 in Brno. He was the son of the famous pianist and musicologist, the rector of the Brno Academy of Music – Ludvik Kundera. His father taught Milan how to play the piano, and his musical fascinations are easy to find in his literary works. He initially studied literature and aesthetics at the Charles University in Prague, but soon transferred to the Film Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. In 1950 he was expelled from the Czech Communist Party “for anti-party activities”. Two years later, as a lecturer at the film department, he was admitted to it again. In 1970, he was expelled from the party for the second time, and five years later he fled to France. The communist authorities of Czechoslovakia revoked Kundera’s citizenship in 1979. Two years later he became a French citizen. He completely cut himself off from his Czech roots, and from the 1990s he did not allow his French-language novels to be translated into Czech.

Milan Kundera is dead. His most famous novel is The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

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He made his debut as a novelist in 1967 with the anti-communist satire Joke. The authorities put him on the writers’ blacklist, and “Joke” was banned. Like many Czech intellectuals, including Václav Havel, he became involved in the Prague Spring.

In 1982, he wrote his most famous novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being. The work was published in French in 1984 in France and a year later in Canada. Also in Canada, in 1985, the first edition in Czech appeared. In the same year, a Polish translation by Agnieszka Holland appeared. The novel was adapted into a film in 1988. It was directed by Philip Kaufman and starred Daniel Day-Lewis and Juliette Binoche. Despite the commercial success of the film, Kundera did not like it and did not agree to further film versions of his titles.

Kundera’s writing, especially since the 1980s, has been associated primarily with philosophical considerations, although many of them refer to the lives of Czech intellectuals after the Prague Spring. He published his last novel in Czech in 1990. And the last work of Kundera is “The Celebration of Insignificance” from 2015. He was appreciated with many literary and state awards in many countries of the world. Many literary historians believe that Kundera was a strong candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature. According to the rules of the award, it will be known whether Kundera was nominated 50 years after the year of the possible nomination. In 1983, an asteroid discovered by Czechoslovak astronomers was named 7390 Kundera in honor of the writer.

Main photo source: picture-alliance / ©MP/Leemage/PAP/EPA

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