Writing is a medium of human communication that represents language and emotion with signs and symbols. In most languages, writing is a spoken language. Writing is not a language. Within a language system, writing relies on many of the same structures as speech, such as vocabulary and semantics, with the added dependency of a system of signs or symbols; the result of writing is called text, the recipient of text is called a reader. Motivations for writing include publication, correspondence, record keeping and diary. Writing has been instrumental in keeping history, maintaining culture, dissemination of knowledge through the media and the formation of legal systems; as human societies emerged, the development of writing was driven by pragmatic exigencies such as exchanging information, maintaining financial accounts, codifying laws and recording history. Around the 4th millennium BC, the complexity of trade and administration in Mesopotamia outgrew human memory, writing became a more dependable method of recording and presenting transactions in a permanent form.
In both ancient Egypt and Mesoamerica, writing may have evolved through calendric and a political necessity for recording historical and environmental events. H. G. Wells argued that writing has the ability to "put agreements, commandments on record, it made the growth of states larger. It made a continuous historical consciousness possible; the command of the priest or king and his seal could go far beyond his sight and voice and could survive his death". The major writing systems—methods of inscription—broadly fall into five categories: logographic, alphabetic and ideographic. A sixth category, pictographic, is insufficient to represent language on its own, but forms the core of logographies. A logogram is a written character which represents a morpheme. A vast number of logograms are needed to write Chinese characters and Mayan, where a glyph may stand for a morpheme, a syllable, or both—. Many logograms have an ideographic component. For example, in Mayan, the glyph for "fin", pronounced "ka", was used to represent the syllable "ka" whenever the pronunciation of a logogram needed to be indicated, or when there was no logogram.
In Chinese, about 90% of characters are compounds of a semantic element called a radical with an existing character to indicate the pronunciation, called a phonetic. However, such phonetic elements complement the logographic elements, rather than vice versa; the main logographic system in use today is Chinese characters, used with some modification for the various languages or dialects of China and sometimes in Korean despite the fact that in South and North Korea, the phonetic Hangul system is used. A syllabary is a set of written symbols. A glyph in a syllabary represents a consonant followed by a vowel, or just a vowel alone, though in some scripts more complex syllables may have dedicated glyphs. Phonetically related syllables are not so indicated in the script. For instance, the syllable "ka" may look nothing like the syllable "ki", nor will syllables with the same vowels be similar. Syllabaries are best suited to languages with a simple syllable structure, such as Japanese. Other languages that use syllabic writing include the Linear B script for Mycenaean Greek.
Most logographic systems have a strong syllabic component. Ethiopic, though technically an abugida, has fused consonants and vowels together to the point where it is learned as if it were a syllabary. An alphabet is a set of symbols, each of which represents or represented a phoneme of the language. In a phonological alphabet, the phonemes and letters would correspond in two directions: a writer could predict the spelling of a word given its pronunciation, a speaker could predict the pronunciation of a word given its spelling; as languages evolve independently of their writing systems, writing systems have been borrowed for languages they were not designed for, the degree to which letters of an alphabet correspond to phonemes of a language varies from one language to another and within a single language. In most of the writing systems of the Middle East, it is only the consonants of a word that are written, although vowels may be indicated by the addition of various diacritical marks. Writing systems based on marking the consonant phonemes alone date back to the hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt.
Such systems are called abjads, derived from the Arabic word for "alphabet". In most of the alphabets of India and Southeast Asia, vowels are indicated through diacritics or modification of the shape of the consonant; these are called abugidas. Some abugidas, such as Ethiopic and Cree, are learned by children as syllabaries, so are called "syllabics". However, unlike true syllabaries, there is not an independent glyph for each syllable. Sometimes the term "alphabet" is restricted to systems with separate letters for consonants and vowels, such as the Latin alphabet, although abugidas and abjads may be accepted as alphabets; because of this use, Greek is considered to be the first alphabet. A featural script notates the building blocks of the phonemes. For instance, all sounds pronounced. In the Latin alphabet, this is acciden
Online Etymology Dictionary
The Online Etymology Dictionary is a free online dictionary written and compiled by Douglas Harper that describes the origins of English-language words. Douglas Harper compiled the etymology dictionary to record the history and evolution of more than 30,000 words, including slang and technical terms; the core body of its etymology information stems from Ernest Weekley's An Etymological Dictionary of Modern English. Other sources include the Middle English Dictionary and the Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology, although the sources for each entry are not stated. In producing his large dictionary, Harper says that he is and for the most part a compiler, an evaluator of etymology reports which others have made. Harper works as a Copy editor/Page designer for LNP Media Group; as of June 2015, there were nearly 50,000 entries in the dictionary. The Online Etymology Dictionary has been referenced by Oxford University's "Arts and Humanities Community Resource" catalog as "an excellent tool for those seeking the origins of words" and cited in the Chicago Tribune as one of the "best resources for finding just the right word".
It is cited in academic work as a useful, though not definitive, reference for etymology. In addition, it has been used as a data source for quantitative scholarly research. Official website
House of Leaves
House of Leaves is the debut novel by American author Mark Z. Danielewski, published in March 2000 by Pantheon Books. A bestseller, it has been translated into a number of languages, is followed by a companion piece, The Whalestoe Letters; the format and structure of House of Leaves is unconventional, with unusual page layout and style, making it a prime example of ergodic literature. It contains copious footnotes, many of which contain footnotes themselves, including references to fictional books, films or articles. In contrast, some pages contain only a few words or lines of text, arranged in strange ways to mirror the events in the story creating both an agoraphobic and a claustrophobic effect. At points, the book must be rotated to be read; the novel is distinctive for its multiple narrators, who interact with each other in elaborate and disorienting ways. While some have attempted to describe the book as a horror story, many readers, as well as the author, define the book as a love story.
Danielewski expands on this point in an interview: "I had one woman come up to me in a bookstore and say,'You know, everyone told me it was a horror book, but when I finished it, I realized that it was a love story.' And she's right. In some ways, genre is a marketing tool." House of Leaves has been described as a "satire of academic criticism." House of Leaves begins with a first-person narrative by Johnny Truant, a Los Angeles tattoo parlor employee and professed unreliable narrator. Truant is searching for a new apartment when his friend Lude tells him about the apartment of the deceased Zampanò, a blind, elderly man who lived in Lude's apartment building. In Zampanò's apartment, Truant discovers a manuscript written by Zampanò that turns out to be an academic study of a documentary film called The Navidson Record, though Truant says he can find no evidence that the film or its subjects existed; the rest of the novel incorporates several narratives, including Zampanò's report on the film. There is another narrator, Truant's mother, whose voice is presented through a self-contained set of letters titled The Whalestoe Letters.
Each narrator's text is printed in a distinct font, making it easier for the reader to follow the challenging format of the novel. Zampanò's narrative deals with the Navidson family: Will Navidson, a photojournalist. Navidson's brother and several other characters play a role in the story; the Navidson family has moved into a new home in Virginia. Upon returning from a trip to Seattle, the Navidson family discovers a change in their home. A closet-like space shut behind an undecorated door appears inexplicably where there was only a blank wall. A second door appears at the end of the closet; as Navidson investigates this phenomenon, he finds that the internal measurements of the house are somehow larger than external measurements. There is less than an inch of difference, but as time passes the interior of the house seems to expand while maintaining the same exterior proportions. A third and more extreme change asserts itself: a dark, cold hallway opens in an exterior living room wall that should project outside into their yard, but does not.
Navidson films the outside of the house to show where the hallway should be but is not. The filming of this anomaly comes to be referred to as "The Five and a Half Minute Hallway"; this hallway leads to a maze-like complex, starting with a large room, which in turn leads to a enormous space, a room distinguished by an enormous spiral staircase which appears, when viewed from the landing, to spiral down without end. There is a multitude of corridors and rooms leading off from each passage. All of these rooms and hallways are unlit and featureless, consisting of smooth ash-gray walls and ceilings; the only sound disturbing the perfect silence of the hallways is a periodic low growl, the source of, never explained, although an academic source "quoted" in the book hypothesizes that the growl is created by the frequent re-shaping of the house. There is some discrepancy as to where "a Half Minute Hallway" appears, it is quoted by different characters at different times to have been located in each of the cardinal directions.
This first happens when Zampanò writes that the hallway is in the western wall, directly contradicting an earlier page where the hallway is mentioned to be in the northern wall. Navidson, along with his brother Tom and some colleagues, feel compelled to explore and videotape the house's endless series of passages driving various characters to insanity and death. Will releases what has been recorded and edited as The Navidson Record. Will and Karen purchased the house because their relationship was becoming strained with Will's work-related absences. While Karen was always adamantly against marriage
Degenerate art was a term adopted in the 1920s by the Nazi Party in Germany to describe modern art. During the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler, German modernist art, including many works of internationally renowned artists, was removed from state owned museums and banned in Nazi Germany on the grounds that such art was an "insult to German feeling", un-German, Jewish, or Communist in nature; those identified as degenerate artists were subjected to sanctions that included being dismissed from teaching positions, being forbidden to exhibit or to sell their art, in some cases being forbidden to produce art. Degenerate Art was the title of an exhibition, held by the Nazis in Munich in 1937, consisting of 650 modernist artworks chaotically hung and accompanied by text labels deriding the art. Designed to inflame public opinion against modernism, the exhibition subsequently traveled to several other cities in Germany and Austria. While modern styles of art were prohibited, the Nazis promoted paintings and sculptures that were traditional in manner and that exalted the "blood and soil" values of racial purity and obedience.
Similar restrictions were placed upon music, expected to be tonal and free of any jazz influences. Films and plays were censored; the early 20th century was a period of wrenching changes in the arts. In the visual arts, such innovations as Fauvism, Cubism and Surrealism—following Symbolism and Post-Impressionism—were not universally appreciated; the majority of people in Germany, as elsewhere, did not care for the new art, which many resented as elitist, morally suspect, too incomprehensible. Wilhelm II, who took an active interest in regulating art in Germany, criticized Impressionism as "gutter painting" and forbade Käthe Kollwitz from being awarded a medal for her print series A Weavers' Revolt when it was displayed in the Berlin Grand Exhibition of the Arts in 1898. In 1913, the Prussian house of representatives passed a resolution "against degeneracy in art". Under the Weimar government of the 1920s, Germany emerged as a leading center of the avant-garde, it was the birthplace of Expressionism in painting and sculpture, of the atonal musical compositions of Arnold Schoenberg, the jazz-influenced work of Paul Hindemith and Kurt Weill.
Films such as Robert Wiene's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu brought Expressionism to cinema; the Nazis viewed the culture of the Weimar period with disgust. Their response stemmed from a conservative aesthetic taste and from their determination to use culture as a propaganda tool. On both counts, a painting such as Otto Dix's War Cripples was anathema to them, it unsparingly depicts four badly disfigured veterans of the First World War a familiar sight on Berlin's streets, rendered in caricatured style. In 1930 Wilhelm Frick, a Nazi, became Minister for Culture and Education, announced a campaign "against Negro culture—for German national traditions". By his order, 70 Expressionist paintings were removed from the permanent exhibition of the Weimar Schlossmuseum in 1930, the director of the König Albert Museum in Zwickau, Hildebrand Gurlitt, was dismissed for displaying modern art; as dictator, Hitler gave his personal taste in art the force of law to a degree never before seen.
Only in Stalin's Soviet Union, where Socialist Realism was the mandatory style, had a modern state shown such concern with regulation of the arts. In the case of Germany, the model was to be classical Greek and Roman art, regarded by Hitler as an art whose exterior form embodied an inner racial ideal. Art historian Henry Grosshans says that Hitler "saw Greek and Roman art as uncontaminated by Jewish influences. Modern art was an act of aesthetic violence by the Jews against the German spirit; such was true to Hitler though only Liebermann, Meidner and Marc Chagall, among those who made significant contributions to the German modernist movement, were Jewish. But Hitler... took upon himself the responsibility of deciding who, in matters of culture and acted like a Jew."The "Jewish" nature of all art, indecipherable, distorted, or that represented "depraved" subject matter was explained through the concept of degeneracy, which held that distorted and corrupted art was a symptom of an inferior race.
By propagating the theory of degeneracy, the Nazis combined their anti-Semitism with their drive to control the culture, thus consolidating public support for both campaigns. The term Entartung had gained currency in Germany by the late 19th century when the critic and author Max Nordau devised the theory presented in his 1892 book Entartung. Nordau drew upon the writings of the criminologist Cesare Lombroso, whose The Criminal Man, published in 1876, attempted to prove that there were "born criminals" whose atavistic personality traits could be detected by scientifically measuring abnormal physical characteristics. Nordau developed from this premise a critique of modern art, explained as the work of those so corrupted and enfeebled by modern life that they have lost the self-control needed to produce coherent works, he attacked Aestheticism in English literature and described the mysticism of the Symbolist movement in French literature as a product of mental pathology. Explaining the painterliness of Impressionism as the sign of a diseased visual cortex, he decried modern degeneracy while praising traditional German culture.
Despite the fact that Nordau was Jewish and a key figure in the Zionist moveme
Symbolism was a late nineteenth-century art movement of French and Belgian origin in poetry and other arts. In literature, the style originates with the 1857 publication of Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal; the works of Edgar Allan Poe, which Baudelaire admired and translated into French, were a significant influence and the source of many stock tropes and images. The aesthetic was developed by Paul Verlaine during the 1860s and 1870s. In the 1880s, the aesthetic was articulated by a series of manifestos and attracted a generation of writers; the term "symbolist" was first applied by the critic Jean Moréas, who invented the term to distinguish the Symbolists from the related Decadents of literature and of art. Distinct from, but related to, the style of literature, symbolism in art is related to the gothic component of Romanticism and Impressionism; the term "symbolism" is derived from the word "symbol" which derives from the Latin symbolum, a symbol of faith, symbolus, a sign of recognition, in turn from classical Greek σύμβολον symbolon, an object cut in half constituting a sign of recognition when the carriers were able to reassemble the two halves.
In ancient Greece, the symbolon was a shard of pottery, inscribed and broken into two pieces which were given to the ambassadors from two allied city states as a record of the alliance. Symbolism was a reaction against naturalism and realism, anti-idealistic styles which were attempts to represent reality in its gritty particularity, to elevate the humble and the ordinary over the ideal. Symbolism was a reaction in favour of spirituality, the imagination, dreams; some writers, such as Joris-Karl Huysmans, began as naturalists before becoming symbolists. Certain of the characteristic subjects of the Decadents represent naturalist interest in sexuality and taboo topics, but in their case this was mixed with Byronic romanticism and the world-weariness characteristic of the fin de siècle period; the Symbolist poets have a more complex relationship with Parnassianism, a French literary style that preceded it. While being influenced by hermeticism, allowing freer versification, rejecting Parnassian clarity and objectivity, it retained Parnassianism's love of word play and concern for the musical qualities of verse.
The Symbolists continued to admire Théophile Gautier's motto of "art for art's sake", retained – and modified – Parnassianism's mood of ironic detachment. Many Symbolist poets, including Stéphane Mallarmé and Paul Verlaine, published early works in Le Parnasse contemporain, the poetry anthologies that gave Parnassianism its name, but Arthur Rimbaud publicly mocked prominent Parnassians and published scatological parodies of some of their main authors, including François Coppée – misattributed to Coppée himself – in L'Album zutique. One of Symbolism's most colourful promoters in Paris was art and literary critic Joséphin Péladan, who established the Salon de la Rose + Croix; the Salon hosted a series of six presentations of avant-garde art and music during the 1890s, to give a presentation space for artists embracing spiritualism and idealism in their work. A number of Symbolists were associated with the Salon. Symbolists believed that art should represent absolute truths that could only be described indirectly.
Thus, they wrote in a metaphorical and suggestive manner, endowing particular images or objects with symbolic meaning. Jean Moréas published the Symbolist Manifesto in Le Figaro on 18 September 1886; the Symbolist Manifesto names Charles Baudelaire, Stéphane Mallarmé, Paul Verlaine as the three leading poets of the movement. Moréas announced that symbolism was hostile to "plain meanings, false sentimentality and matter-of-fact description", that its goal instead was to "clothe the Ideal in a perceptible form" whose "goal was not in itself, but whose sole purpose was to express the Ideal." Ainsi, dans cet art, les tableaux de la nature, les actions des humains, tous les phénomènes concrets ne sauraient se manifester eux-mêmes. In a nutshell, as Mallarmé writes in a letter to his friend Cazalis,'to depict not the thing but the effect it produces'; the symbolist poets wished to liberate techniques of versification in order to allow greater room for "fluidity", as such were sympathetic with the trend toward free verse, as evident in the poems of Gustave Kahn and Ezra Pound.
Symbolist poems were attempts to evoke, rather than to describe. T. S. Eliot was influenced by the poets Jules Laforgue, Paul Valéry and Arthur Rimbaud who used the techniques of the Symbolist school, though it has been said that'Imagism' was the style to which both Pound and Eliot subscribed. Synesthesia was a prized experience. In Baudelaire's poem Correspondences mentions forêts de symboles – forests of symbols – Il est des parfums frais comme des chairs d'enfants,Doux comme les hautbois, verts comme les prairies,– Et d'autres, riches et triomphants,Ayant l'expansion des choses infinies,Comme l'ambre, le musc, le benjoin et l'encens,Qui chantent le
Mark Z. Danielewski
Mark Z. Danielewski is an American fiction author. Though his second novel, Only Revolutions, was nominated for the National Book Award, Danielewski is most known for his debut novel House of Leaves, which garnered a considerable cult following and won the New York Public Library's Young Lions Fiction Award, he has published one novella, The Fifty Year Sword, which until rereleased by Pantheon in the United States in 2012, remained obscure due to only 2000 copies being published in the Netherlands. Although several shorter works have been published, notably "All the Lights of Midnight: Salbatore Nufro Orejón,'The Physics of Eror' and Livia Bassil's'Psychology of Physics'," "Parable no9:'The Hopeless Animal and the End of Nature,'" "Clip 4," and "Parable no8:'Z is for Zoo,'" they've all been ignored by critics, his latest project is The Familiar, an ambitious 27-volume serial novel whose first installment, The Familiar, Volume 1: One Rainy Day in May, was released on May 12, 2015. The Familiar, Volume 5: Redwood completed Season One when it was released on October 31, 2017.
Danielewski's work is characterized by an intricate, multi-layered typographical variation, or page layout. Sometimes known as visual writing, the typographical variation corresponds directly, at any given narratological point in time, to the physical space of the events in the fictional world as well as the physical space of the page and the reader. Early on, critics characterized his writing as being ergodic literature, but Danielewski, who has commented on his disappointment with criticism's inability to properly confront his work, expressed his theoretical approach to literature:Signiconic = sign + icon. Rather than engage those textual faculties of the mind remediating the pictorial or those visual faculties remediating language, the signiconic engages both in order to lessen the significance of both and therefore achieve a third perception no longer dependent on sign and image for remediating a world in which the mind plays no part."Since the release of The Familiar, Volume 1, Danielewski has been doing small tours for the release of each volume and releasing merchandise related to House of Leaves and The Familiar on his website.
He has not been seen publicly without donning a cat shirt since at least 2010. Danielewski was born in New York City to Tad Danielewski, a Polish avant-garde film director, Priscilla Decatur Machold. Mark was Tad's second child. Christopher, the first, was born to Tad's first wife. Mark was the first of two children born to Priscilla. Anne Decatur Danielewski, a.k.a. Poe, an American singer and record producer, was born 2 years after Mark; when Mark was a child and young man, the Danielewski family moved around continuously for Tad's various film projects. By the age of 10, Mark had lived in 6 different countries because of his father's work: Ghana, Spain, Switzerland and the United States, he and his sister, went to high school in Provo, Utah. Danielewski has said that this time in Utah as well as his experiences elsewhere helped him to gain an appreciation for creativity in all its forms, the traveling showed him that "there was much to be learned out there." Not much else is known about Mark's early life, critics continue to pull details from certain characters in his novels as evidence for biographical details that have never been confirmed.
In 1985 Danielewski spent time in France visiting his brother who at the time was living on Rue des Belles Feuilles. There was a manual typewriter that he found himself pounding away on, it was there. During this period he wrote an unpublished story called "Where Tigers Dance." Danielewski has referred to the story as being "so unfinished it didn't deserve to be called incomplete," but that it has continued "to roam around" in his imagination. Fans have come back to this tangential story about an early work of fiction from his youth since the release of "Parable no8:'Z is for Zoo'" and The Familiar. In 1988 Danielewski graduated with a degree in English Literature from Yale, where he studied under John Hollander, Stuart Moulthrop, John Guillory, he was inspired by Harold Bloom. In 1989 Danielewski moved to Berkeley, where he enrolled in an intensive Latin course at the University of California, Berkeley, he pursued graduate studies at the USC School of Cinema-Television in Los Angeles. During this time he became involved in the film Derrida, a documentary based on the career and philosophy of Algerian-born French literary critic and philosopher Jacques Derrida.
Danielewski was an assistant editor, sound technician and cameraman for the movie, he can be seen adjusting the sound equipment in Derrida's suit jacket at one point in the film. He graduated with an MFA in 1993, the same year his dad died, it is the year he came upon the idea of a house, bigger on the inside than the outside. Danielewski has been an avid cat lover throughout his life, they show up in a myriad of ways throughout his works and happen to be a main topic in his most recent book series The Familiar. In January 2016, Danielewski adopted two Devon Rex kittens, Archimedes & Meifumado, after his previous Devon Rex companions and Carl died. Danielewski dates the origin of his debut novel House of Leaves to 1990 and a story that he wrote after finding out that his father was dying: 1990. My father was head of the USC School of Theater. I was living in New York
Milan Kundera is a Czech-born French writer who went into exile in France in 1975, became a naturalised French citizen in 1981. He "sees himself as a French writer and insists his work should be studied as French literature and classified as such in book stores". Kundera's best-known work is The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Prior to the Velvet Revolution of 1989 the Communist régime in Czechoslovakia banned his books, he lives incognito and speaks to the media. A perpetual contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature, he is believed to have been nominated on several occasions. Kundera was born in 1929 at Purkyňova 6 in Královo Pole, a quarter of Brno, Czechoslovakia, to a middle-class family, his father, Ludvík Kundera, was an important Czech musicologist and pianist who served as the head of the Janáček Music Academy in Brno from 1948 to 1961. His mother was Milada Kunderová. Milan learned to play the piano from his father. Musicological influences and references can be found throughout his work.
Kundera is a cousin of translator Ludvík Kundera. He belonged to the generation of young Czechs who had had little or no experience of the pre-war democratic Czechoslovak Republic, their ideology was influenced by the experiences of World War II and the German occupation. Still in his teens, he joined the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia which seized power in 1948, he completed his secondary school studies in Brno at Gymnázium třída Kapitána Jaroše in 1948. He studied literature and aesthetics at the Faculty of Arts at Charles University in Prague. After two terms, he transferred to the Film Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague where he first attended lectures in film direction and script writing. In 1950, his studies were interrupted by political interferences, he and writer Jan Trefulka were expelled from the party for "anti-party activities." Trefulka described the incident in his novella Pršelo jim štěstí. Kundera used the incident as an inspiration for the main theme of his novel Žert.
After Kundera graduated in 1952, the Film Faculty appointed him a lecturer in world literature. In 1956 Milan Kundera was readmitted into the Party, he was expelled for the second time in 1970. Kundera, along with other reform communist writers such as Pavel Kohout, was involved in the 1968 Prague Spring; this brief period of reformist activities was crushed by the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968. Kundera remained committed to reforming Czechoslovak communism, argued vehemently in print with fellow Czech writer Václav Havel, saying that everyone should remain calm and that "nobody is being locked up for his opinions yet," and "the significance of the Prague Autumn may be greater than that of the Prague Spring." However, Kundera relinquished his reformist dreams and moved to France in 1975. He taught for a few years in the University of Rennes, he was stripped of Czechoslovak citizenship in 1979. He maintains contact with Czech and Slovak friends in his homeland, but returns and always does so incognito.
Although his early poetic works are staunchly pro-communist, his novels escape ideological classification. Kundera has insisted on being considered a novelist, rather than a political or dissident writer. Political commentary has all but disappeared from his novels except in relation to broader philosophical themes. Kundera's style of fiction, interlaced with philosophical digression, is inspired by the novels of Robert Musil and the philosophy of Nietzsche, is used by authors Alain de Botton and Adam Thirlwell. Kundera takes his inspiration, as he notes enough, not only from the Renaissance authors Giovanni Boccaccio and Rabelais, but from Laurence Sterne, Henry Fielding, Denis Diderot, Robert Musil, Witold Gombrowicz, Hermann Broch, Franz Kafka, Martin Heidegger, most Miguel de Cervantes, to whose legacy he considers himself most committed, he wrote in Czech. From 1993 onwards, he has written his novels in French. Between 1985 and 1987 he undertook the revision of the French translations of his earlier works.
As a result, all of his books exist in French with the authority of the original. His books have been translated into many languages. In his first novel, The Joke, he gave a satirical account of the nature of totalitarianism in the Communist era. Kundera was quick to criticize the Soviet invasion in 1968; this led to his works being banned there. Kundera's second novel was first published in French as La vie est ailleurs in 1973 and in Czech as Život je jinde in 1979. Set in Czechoslovakia before and after the Second World War, Life Is Elsewhere is a satirical portrait of the fictional poet Jaromil, a young and naive idealist who becomes involved in political scandals. In 1975, Kundera moved to France. There he published The Book of Laughter and Forgetting which told of Czechoslovak citizens opposing the communist regime in various ways. An unusual mixture of novel, short story collection and author's musings, the book set the tone for his works in exile. Critics have noted the irony that the country that Kundera seemed to be writing about when he talked about Czechoslovakia in the book, "is, thanks to the latest political redefinitions, no longer there", the "kind of disappearance and reappearance" Kundera explores in the book.