Renowned writer Milan Kundera, who is best remembered for his book ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’, passed away due to an unspecified illness in Paris on July 11, 2023, his publisher Gallimard said. He was 94 years old.
Upon hearing the news of Kundera’s passing away, the European Parliament held a moment of silence in his honour.
Czech Prime Minister
said in a tweet in the Czech language, “Milan Kundera was a writer who was able to reach generations of readers across all continents with his work and achieved world fame… He left behind not only a remarkable work of fiction, but also an important work of essays.”
Kundera was inspired by famous writers including Franz Kafka, Martin Heidegger, Miguel de Cervantes among others which reflected in his works.
PM Fiala also offered his condolences to Vera, Kundera’s wife, who guarded Kundera’s reclusive life from intrusions from the outside world.
Born on April 1, 1929, Kundera was a noted Czech-born French writer. ‘His dissident writings in communist Czechoslovakia transformed him into an exiled satirist of totalitarianism,’ as per AP. In 1975, Kundera went into exile in France and later acquired their citizenship in 1981.
“If someone had told me as a boy: One day you will see your nation vanish from the world, I would have considered it nonsense, something I couldn’t possibly imagine. A man knows he is mortal, but he takes it for granted that his nation possesses a kind of eternal life,” Kundera told author Philip Roth during an interview for The New York Times in 1980.
In 1989, the Velvet Revolution removed Communists from power and Czechoslovakia was reborn as Czech Republic. However, by then Kundera had made a new identity and life in Paris with his wife Vera.
In June 2012, Kundera had expressed his fears regarding the future of literature in a speech to the French National Library. “It seems to me that time, which continues its march pitilessly, is beginning to endanger books. It’s because of this anguish that, for several years now, I have in all my contracts a clause stipulating that they must be published only in the traditional form of a book, that they be read only on paper and not on a screen… People walk in the street, they no longer have contact with those around them, they don’t even see the homes they pass, they have wires hanging from their ears. They gesticulate, they should, they look at no one and no one looks at them. I ask myself, do they even read books anymore? It’s possible, but for how much longer?,” Kundera had said in the speech, which was read in French by his friend.
During his lifetime, Kundera was often considered as a candidate for the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature. However, he wasn’t conferred with it.
Meanwhile, expressing their condolences the Booker Prizes tweeted, “We are saddened to hear of the death of Milan Kundera. Kundera was shortlisted for the International Booker Prize in 2005 and was known for his philosophical yet playful novels. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”
(With inputs from AP)