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Milan Kundera

  • Czechoslovakian writer
  • Born April 1, 1929

Milan Kundera [mɪˈlan kunˈdɛra]; born 1 April 1929) is a Czech-born French writer who went into exile in France in 1975, and became a naturalised French citizen in 1981. He "sees himself as a French writer and insists his work should be studied as French literature and classified as such in book stores".Kundera's best-known work is The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Prior to the Velvet Revolution of 1989 the socialist régime in Czechoslovakia banned his books. He lives virtually incognito and rarely speaks to the media.


Metaphors are dangerous. Love begins with a metaphor. Which is to say, love begins at the point when a woman enters her first word into our poetic memory.




Those who consider the Devil to be a partisan of Evil and angels to be warriors for Good accept the demagogy of the angels. Things are clearly more complicated.




Art is the human disposition of sensible or intelligible matter for an esthetic end.




There is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one's own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels for someone, for someone, pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echos.




How goodness heightens beauty!

How goodness heightens beauty!




Ambition is a poor excuse for not having sense enough to be lazy.




To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace.

To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace.




Culture is perishing in overproduction, in an avalanche of words, in the madness of quantity.




Business has only two functions - marketing and innovation.




For a novelist, a given historic situation is an anthropologic laboratory in which he explores his basic question: What is human existence?




No great movement designed to change the world can bear to be laughed at or belittled. Mockery is a rust that corrodes all it touches.




There are metaphysical problems, problems of human existence, that philosophy has never known how to grasp in all their concreteness and that only the novel can seize.




Mysticism and exaggeration go together. A mystic must not fear ridicule if he is to push all the way to the limits of humility or the limits of delight.




Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent.

Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent.




The light that radiates from the great novels time can never dim, for human existence is perpetually being forgotten by man and thus the novelists' discoveries, however old they may be, will never cease to astonish.




Optimism is the opium of the people.

Optimism is the opium of the people.




A novel that does not uncover a hitherto unknown segment of existence is immoral. Knowledge is the novel's only morality.




People are going deaf because music is played louder and louder, but because they're going deaf, it has to be played louder still.




Eroticism is like a dance: one always leads the other.




A worker may be the hammer's master, but the hammer still prevails. A tool knows exactly how it is meant to be handled, while the user of the tool can only have an approximate idea.




Let us consider the critic, therefore, as a discoverer of discoveries.




I remember that the day I finished 'The Angels,' part three of 'The Book of Laughter and Forgetting', I was terribly proud of myself. I was sure that I had discovered the key to a new way of putting together a narrative.




Listening to a news broadcast is like smoking a cigarette and crushing the butt in the ashtray.




Without realizing it, the individual composes his life according to the laws of beauty even in times of greatest distress.




No matter how much we scorn it, kitsch is an integral part of the human condition.




In order to make the novel into a polyhistorical illumination of existence, you need to master the technique of ellipsis, the art of condensation. Otherwise, you fall into the trap of endless length.




Man's world is the planet of inexperience.




Hate traps us by binding us too tightly to our adversary.

Hate traps us by binding us too tightly to our adversary.




Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it.




The sound of laughter is like the vaulted dome of a temple of happiness.

The sound of laughter is like the vaulted dome of a temple of happiness.




When I was a little boy in short pants, I dreamed about a miraculous ointment that would make me invisible. Then I became an adult, began to write, and wanted to be successful. Now I'm successful and would like to have the ointment that would make me invisible.




He took over anger to intimidate subordinates, and in time anger took over him.




The stupidity of people comes from having an answer for everything. The wisdom of the novel comes from having a question for everything.




All great novels, all true novels, are bisexual.




The worth of a human being lies in the ability to extend oneself, to go outside oneself, to exist in and for other people.




I am incapable of speaking of myself and of my life and the states of my soul, I am discreet to an almost pathological degree, and there is nothing I can do against that.



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