Milan Kundera, author of “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”, has died at the age of 94

PRAGUE: Czech-born author Milan Kunderaauthor of the book”The Unbearable Light of Being“who lived in Paris for nearly five decades after leaving his Communist-ruled homeland in disillusionment, has died aged 94.
The Moravian Library (MZK) in the Czech city of Brno, which housed Kundera, said he died on Tuesday at his home in Paris after a long illness.
Kundera has received international acclaim for the way he portrays themes and characters that float between the everyday and the sublime.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said his works had “reached readers of all ages on all continents” while President Petr Pavel called him “the world’s best writer”.
“With his destiny in life, he showed the interesting history of our country in the 20th century,” said Pavel. “Kundera’s legacy will live on in his works.”
French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said Kundera was “a writer and a voice we will miss”.
“Milan Kundera’s works are at once deep, human, intimate and distant explorations,” he said.
Kundera was born in Brno in 1929 but moved to France in 1975 after he was accused of criticizing the 1968 Communist coup in Czechoslovakia that disrupted the Prague Spring.
They rarely give interviews, believe writers must speak through their work, and live outside of society.
Fellow Czech writer Karel Hvizdala told Czech Television that he saw his friend last November and that he was already in good health.
“I remember that on his hospital bed, which he had at home, he had only one book – ‘The Plague’ by Albert Camus,” he said.
‘Subtle differences’
Kundera’s first book, “The Joke” was published in 1967 and presents a terrifying picture of the Czechoslovak Communist regime and the ruling party of which he is still a member.
He eventually gave up hope of a democratization of the party, and moved to France. Four years later, he was stripped of his Czech citizenship.
He told the French newspaper Le Monde in 1976 that calling his works political is too easy, so to hide his true meaning, but his books are often political.
“The Book of Laughter and Forgetting” (1979) was an essay written in seven parts that showed the power of totalitarian regimes to erase some parts of history and create others of the past – a work that the New York Times called “genius” in its analysis. .
His best-known novel, “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” (1984), focused on the Prague Spring and the end of the unrest with Czechs who had lost hope of retreating into private lives or migrating to the West.
It was made into a film starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Juliette Binoche and directed by Philip Kaufman in 1988, he received two Academy Award nominations.
Oxford University professor Timothy Garton Ash, a writer and historian who focused on central Europe, said Kundera “did a lot to establish the idea and culture of Central Europe in the world’s minds”.
Kundera once told an interviewer that he considers himself French and not an immigrant. He later wrote books in French.
Le Monde called him “a tireless defender of the book” in its coverage of his death.
“Undoubtedly many European writers, they adopted the subtle differences of our country,” said the mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo.
After the Velvet Revolution of 1989 that peacefully overthrew the Communist government in Czechoslovakia and ushered in Western democracy, Kundera rarely visited people at home but quietly visited friends and family.
He also got Czech citizenship in 2019.

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