Tijana Miletic

European Literary Immigration

into the French Language

Readings of Gary, Kristof, Kundera and Semprun

Milan Kundera

(1929 -)

Milan KunderaMilan Kundera was born on 1st April 1929 in Brno in the family of Ludvík Kundera, a well-known Czech musicologist and pianist. He started studying literature and aesthetics in Prague, but transferred to the Film Academy, where he first attended lectures in film direction and then in script writing. In 1952 he was appointed lecturer in world literature at the Film Academy. His first book, a collection of lyrical poems, was published in 1953. He subsequently wrote several novels and plays in Czech.

He joined the ruling Czechoslovak Communist Party in 1948 and was expelled in 1950. He was then re-admitted in 1956 and expelled again in 1970. As a consequence of his involvement in the "Prague Spring", he was dismissed from his teaching post and his books were withdrawn from bookshops and libraries. In 1975, Milan Kundera and his wife left Czechoslovakia for France. Kundera taught at the University of Rennes until 1978 when he moved to Paris and taught at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes.

In 1979 the Czech government took away his Czechoslovakian citizenship in reaction to his Book of Laughter and Forgetting. He obtained French citizenship in 1981.

In 1982 Kundera completed the novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being (first published in Czech in Toronto, 1985, definitive French edition 1987), which made him an internationally well-known author, especially after it was turned into a film by Philip Kaufman in 1988. La Lenteur, 1995, is the first work of fiction that Milan Kundera wrote in French. He lives in Paris with his wife, Vera Hrabankova.

shown above: Frank Gehry's "Fred and Ginger" in Prague, whose playfulness and lightness is reminiscent of Kundera's writing.

  • In French
  • La Lenteur (Paris: Gallimard, 1995)
  • L'Ignorance (Paris: Gallimard, 2003)
  • L'Immortalité (Paris: Gallimard, 1990)
  • Les Testaments trahis (Paris: Gallimard, 1993)
  • In English
  • Slowness, translated by Linda Asher (London: Faber and Faber, 1996)
  • Ignorance, translated by Linda Asher (London: Faber and Faber, 2003)
  • Testaments Betrayed, translated by Linda Asher (London: Faber and Faber, 1995)