Milan Kundera  

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I think, therefore I am is the statement of an intellectual who underrates toothaches. I feel, therefore I am is a truth much more universally valid, and it applies to everything that's alive. My self does not differ substantially from yours in terms of its thought. Many people, few ideas: we all think more or less the same, and we exchange, borrow, steal thoughts from one another. However, when someone steps on my foot, only I feel the pain. The basis of the self is not thought but suffering, which is the most fundamental of all feelings. While it suffers, not even a cat can doubt its unique and uninterchangeable self. In intense suffering the world disappears and each of us is alone with his self. Suffering is the university of egocentrism.” ― Immortality (1990) by Milan Kundera

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Milan Kundera (1929 - 2023) was a Czech writer who lived in exile in France since 1975, where he became a naturalized citizen in 1981.

He is best known as the author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, and The Joke.

Kundera wrote both in Czech and French. He revises the French translations of all his books; these therefore are not considered translations but original works. Due to censorship by the Communist government of Czechoslovakia, his books were banned from his native country, and that remained the case until the downfall of this government in the Velvet Revolution in 1989.



On October 13th, 2008, the Czech weekly Respekt prominently publicised an investigation carried out by the Czech Institute for Studies of Totalitarian Regimes, which alleged Kundera denounced to the police a young Czech pilot, Miroslav Dvořáček.

German newspaper Die Welt has compared Kundera to Günter Grass, the Nobel Prize winner, who in 2006 was revealed to have served in the Waffen-SS in the Second World War.



Short fiction



  • The Apologizer (2015)

Poetry collections

  • Člověk zahrada širá (Man: A Wide Garden) (1953)
  • Poslední máj (The Last May) (1955) – celebration of Julius Fučík
  • Monology (Monologues) (1957)


  • O sporech dědických (About the Disputes of Inheritance) (1955)
  • Umění románu: Cesta Vladislava Vančury za velkou epikou (The Art of the Novel: Vladislav Vančura's Path to the Great Epic) (1960)
  • Český úděl (The Czech Deal) (1968)
  • Radikalizmus a expozice (Radicalism and Exhibitionism) (1969)
  • The Stolen West or The Tragedy of Central Europe (Únos západu aneb Tragédie střední Evropy) (1983)
  • The Art of the Novel (L'art du Roman) (1986)
  • Testaments Betrayed: An Essay in Nine Parts (Les testaments trahis: essai) (1993)
  • D'en bas tu humeras les roses – rare book in French, illustrated by Ernest Breleur (1993)
  • The Curtain (Le Rideau) (2005)
  • An Encounter (Une rencontre) (2009)


  • Majitelé klíčů (The Owners of the Keys) (1962)
  • Dvě uši, dvě svatby (Two Ears, Two Weddings) (1968)
  • Ptákovina (The Blunder) (1969)
  • Jacques and His Master (Jakub a jeho pán: Pocta Denisu Diderotovi) (1981)

Film adaptations

  • The Joke (1968) Directed by Jaromil Jireš, Assistant director Eliska Stibrová, Screenplay Milan Kundera and Jaromil Jireš from the novel by

Milan Kundera. Cinematography Jan Curík.


  • What is a novelist (2006)
  • Die Weltliteratur (2007)


  • A Kidnapped West: The Tragedy of Central Europe (2023)

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Milan Kundera" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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