On April 1, Milan Kundera celebrated his 90 th birthday. This anniversary month seems like the perfect opportunity to evoke his contentious relation with his home country, the Czech Republic, although he was born in then-Czechoslovakia , and its capital city, Prague. This oft-debated and controversial question usually overtakes the substance and nature of his work itself : the manner in which Kundera fled Communist-era Czechoslovakia, his refusal to translate his French books into Czech, the allegations of collaboration with the StB feed a flow of countless gossip and polemics regarding the reclusive, world-famous, Brno-born author. However, people tend to forget that if Kundera did physically leave his native country, the Czech Republic, and Prague especially, have left a deep and lasting mark on his novels and various writings.
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If we look back, we can see how the concept of Central Europe has never been perfectly defined. It has been mostly connected to the willingness of discovering a certain imaginary and to the importance of overthrowing the regime in order to assert that identity somehow was lost during the period of Communist dependence.
It was mainly characterized by the idea that the identity of a nation is based on a shared heritage with the Western World, making the area more similar to the West than to the East. Only after the s, the definition will be part of common usage and accepted as real, representing any imaginary, or something abstract. It meant to do tabula rasa of the Soviet past and to highlight instead, that European identity, once lost. According to the Czech writer, the East and the West were completely different, and so was their development.
Progress and democratic values symbolized Europe and thus, Central Europe. Today, years after Kundera's essay publication, the East-West divide returns to dominate the debate. This time, it is nothing to do with heritages, history and common culture. It is only about how the states of Central Europe face current problems and issues. Not within Europe or part of a common European identity.
Central Europe returned to be part of the Western liberal democratic sphere to which it arguably belongs after But so far after having joined the European Union , Central Europe was only enjoying the good. Today, when the times to contribute have come the old division has been shown again.
Controversially, If, before, the cause of increasing the Europe's East-West divide was a need to achieve the Western democracy, today is the lack of democratic values who divides the West from the East. Sie lernt gerade Slowakisch und hat auch schon in Bratislava gewohnt. Previous article Is Croatia on a road to ban totalitarian symbols? Related Articles. Leave a Reply - Cancel reply.
Milan Kundera: an ongoing struggle with Prague, forgetfulness and Central Europe’s uniqueness
Jonathan Bousfield talks to three award-winning novelists who spent their formative years in a Central Europe that Milan Kundera once described as the kidnapped West. It transpires that small nations may still be the bearers of important truths. Milan Kundera, Photo: Elisa Cabot. Source: Flickr.
The 100 Books
The Books. List of titles - brief display List of titles - full display with biography and summary. Start date Start date End date End date The tragedy of Central Europe. This title is unfortunately not available in full text for copyright reasons.