Meaning of KUNDERA, MILAN in English

born April 1, 1929, Brno, Czech. Czech novelist, short-story writer, playwright, and poet who wrote various works combining erotic comedy with political criticism. The son of a noted concert pianist and musicologist, Ludvik Kundera, the young Kundera studied music but gradually turned to writing, publishing his first volume of poetry, Clovek zahrada ir (Man: A Broad Garden) in 1953. This and two other collections, Posledn mj (1955; The Last May) and Monology (1957; Monologues), because of their ironic tone and eroticism, were condemned by the Czech political authorities. Meanwhile, he was in and out of the Communist Party (194850, 195670) and studied and taught in the Film Faculty of Prague's Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. Several volumes of short stories and a highly successful one-act play, Majitel Klcu (1962; The Owners of the Keys), were followed by his first novel and one of his greatest works, Zert (1967; The Joke), a comic, ironic view of the private lives and destinies of various Czechs during the years of Stalinism; translated into several languages, it achieved great international acclaim. His second novel, Zivot je jinde (1969; Life Is Elsewhere), about a hapless, romantic-minded hero who thoroughly embraces the Communist takeover of 1948, was forbidden Czech publication. Kundera had participated in the brief but heady liberalization of Czechoslovakia in 196768, and after the Soviet occupation of the country he refused to admit his political errors and consequently was attacked by the authorities, who banned all his works, fired him from his teaching positions, and ousted him from the Communist Party. In 1975 Kundera was allowed to emigrate (with his wife, Vera Hrabankova) from his Czechoslovakian homeland to teach at the University of Rennes (197578) in France; in 1979 the Czech government stripped him of his citizenship. His subsequent novels, such as Valck na rozloucenou (1976; Farewell Waltz; Eng. trans. The Farewell Party), Kniha smchu a zapomnen (1979; The Book of Laughter and Forgetting), and Nes nesiteln lehkost byti (1984; The Unbearable Lightness of Being), were published in France and elsewhere abroad but until 1989 were banned in his homeland. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, one of his most successful works, is a series of wittily ironic meditations on the modern state's tendency to deny and obliterate human memory and historical truth. A translation of Kundera's reflections on the art of the novel was published in 1988.

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