Friday, October 31, 2014

Private guide in Prague

Milan Kundera ( 1929)

Milan Kundera was born on April 1st, 1929 in Brno, Czechoslovakia. His father, Ludvík Kundera (1891-1971), was a musicologist and rector at Brno University.

Milan Kundera wrote his first poems during high school. After World War II, he started his studies Milan Kundera at Prague’s Charles University where he studied musicology, film and literature and aesthetics. After graduating in 1952, Kundera became assistant and later professor with the film faculty at Prague’s Academy of Performing Arts, lecturing in world literature. During this time, he published poems, essays and stage plays and joined the editorial staff at the literary magazines “Literarni Noviny” and “Listy.”

Kundera joined the communist party in 1948 full of enthusiasm, as did so many intellectuals. In 1950, he got expelled from the party due to individualistic tendencies Throughout the 50s, Kundera worked as a translator, essayist and author of stage plays. Although Kundera had published several poetry collections, he gained notoriety with the publication of a collection of short stories entitled “Laughable Loves“, written between 1958 and 1968. His first novel, “The Joke,“ written in 1967, deals with Stalinism. After the Soviet invasion on the 21st of August, 1968, Kundera, as one of the leading figures of the failed radical movement the “Prague Spring,” lost his teaching position and his books were banned from libraries the country over. In 1970, his books were banned from publication.


His second novel, “Life Is Elsewhere”, was published in Paris in 1973. Rennes, Bretagne In 1975, Kundera became guest professor at the University in Rennes in Bretagne, France. He was deprived of Czechoslovakian citizenship in 1979 in reaction to his “Book of Laughter and Forgetting.” The novels that followed were banned from publication in the CSSR. He gained his French citizenship in 1981. Since 1985, Kundera has given only written interviews, feeling himself often misquoted. In 1986, Kundera published his first work written in French, the essay “L'Art du Roman“ (The Art of the Novel). In 1988, he published his first novel written in French, “Immortality.” Having been a lecture in comparative language sciences at the University of Rennes for several years, in 1978 Kundera became an author with the noted publishing house Gallimard.

Kunderas most recent novels include “Slowness” published in 1994, and “Identity,” published in 1998. In 2000, Kundera published “La Ignorancia,”. As he often makes clear, Kundera derives inspirations from the Renaissance and such writers as Boccacio, Rabelais, Sterne, Diderot, but also from the works of Musil, Gombrowitz, Broch, Kafka and Heidegger. Not only are Kunderas books classics of the 20th century, Kundera is among it’s greatest novelists. Unlike many more public authors, Kundera prefers to disappear behind his books, anonymous in his own way. Kundera currently lives with his wife, Vera Hrabankova, in Paris.

Prizes and Awards 

1973 Prix Médicis for the best foreign novel published in France (“Life is Elsewhere")

1978 Premio letterario Mondello for his book “The Farewell Party” in Italy

1981 American Common Wealth Award for his complete works

1982 European literatur prize

1983 Doctor honoris causa of the University of Michigan, USA

1985 Prize of Jerusalem

1987 Austrian states prize for European literature

1991 First prize for foreign literature of the English newspaper The Independent

1994 Jaroslav-Seifert-Prize for his novel „Immortality"

1995 Czech medal of merits for his contribution to the renewal of democracy

2000 Herder-Preis of the University of Vienna / Austria

The Milan Kundera Bibliography

    Man: A Broad Garden, 1953 
    The Last May, 1954-1955-1961 
    Monologues, 1957-1964-1965

    The Owner of the Keys, 1962. 
    Two Ears,Two Weddings (Slowness), 1968
    The Blunder, 1969
    Jaques and His Master, 1971 (Hommage to Diderot in 3 acts)

    The Joke, 1965 
    Laughable Loves, 3 parts: 1963-1965-1968, complete 1969
    Life is Elsewhere, 1969/70
    The Farewell Waltz (earlier translation: Party), 1970/71 
    The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, 1978 
    The Unbearable Lightness of Being, 1982
    Immortality, 1988
    Slowness, 1994.
    Identity, 1996
    Ignorance, 2000


The movie about Milan Kunderas novel “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” has recently been his most successful:
USA, 1987, 172 min.
Direction: Philip Kaufman
Book: Jean-Claude Carrière, Philip Kaufman
(after the novel of Milan Kundera)
Camera: Sven Nykvist
Music: Leos Janácek
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis (Tomas), Juliette Binoche (Tereza), Lena Olin (Sabina), Derek de Lint (Franz), Erland Josephson, Daniel Olbrychski, Donald Moffat, Tomek Bork, Stellan Skarsgard, Bruce Myers, Pavel Slaby, Pascale Kalensky, Jacques Ciron, Anne Lonnberg.

Nikdo se nebude smát (Nobody will laugh)
Milan Kundera wrote the story for this movie.
Czechoslovakia, 1965, 94 min., B/W
Direction: Hynek Bocan
Book: Hynek Bocan, Pavel Jurácek
(after the story of Milan Kundera)
Cast: Jan Kacer (Klima), Stepánka Rehákova (Klára Novotná), Josef Chvalina (Josef Záturecky), Hana Kreihanslova (Záturecká)

Clair de femme (Love of a Woman)
Milan Kundera co-wrote the book for this movie.

France / Italy / Germany, 1979, 102 min., coulour
Direction: Costa-Gavras
Book: Christopher Frank
Cast: Romy Schneider (Lydia), Yves Montand (Michel), Francois Perrot (Alain), Gabriel Jabbour (Sacha), Daniel Mesguich (Policeman)

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