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.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Unbearable Lightness of Being is a 1984 novel by Milan Kundera, about two women, two men, a dog and their lives in the 1968 Prague Spring period of Czechoslovak history. Although written in 1982, the novel was not published until two years in a French translation; the original Czech text was published the following year. The Unbearable Lightness of Being takes place in Prague in the late 1960s and early 1970s, it explores the artistic and intellectual life of Czech society from the Prague Spring of 1968 to the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union and three other Warsaw Pact countries and its aftermath. The main characters are: an adulterous surgeon. Tomáš: A Czech surgeon and intellectual. Tomáš is a womanizer, he considers sex and love to be distinct entities: he has sex with many women but loves only his wife, Tereza. He sees no contradiction between these two positions, he explains womanizing as an imperative to explore female idiosyncrasies only expressed during sex. At first he views his wife as a burden.
After the Soviet invasion, they escape to Zurich. Tereza, returns to Prague with the dog, he realizes he wants to be with her and follows her home. He has to deal with the consequences of a letter to the editor in which he metaphorically likened the Czech Communists to Oedipus. Fed up with life in Prague under the Communist regime, Tomáš and Tereza move to the countryside, he discovers true happiness with Tereza. His epitaph, written by his Catholic son, is "He Wanted the Kingdom of God on Earth". Tereza: Young wife of Tomáš. A gentle, intellectual photographer, she delves into dangerous and dissident photojournalism during the Soviet occupation of Prague. Tereza does not condemn Tomáš for his infidelities, instead characterizing herself as a weaker person. Tereza is defined by her view of the body as disgusting and shameful, due to her mother's embrace of the body's grotesque functions. Throughout the book she fears being another body in Tomáš's array of women. Once Tomáš and Tereza move to the countryside, she devotes herself to reading.
During this time she learns about her anima through an adoration of pet animals, reaching the conclusion that they were the last link to the paradise abandoned by Adam and Eve and becomes alienated from other people. Sabina: Tomáš's mistress and closest friend. Sabina lives her life as an extreme example of lightness, taking profound satisfaction in the act of betrayal, she declares war on kitsch and struggles against the constraints imposed upon her by her puritan ancestry and the Communist Party. This struggle is shown through her paintings, she expresses excitement at humiliation, as shown through the use of her grandfather's bowler hat, a symbol, born during one sexual encounter with Tomáš, before it changes meaning and becomes a relic of the past. In the novel, she begins to correspond with Šimon while living under the roof of some older Americans who admire her artistic skill. Franz: Sabina's lover and a Geneva professor and idealist. Franz falls in love with Sabina, whom he considers a liberal and romantically tragic Czech dissident.
He is a compassionate man. As one of the novel's dreamers, Franz bases his actions on loyalty to the memories of his mother and Sabina, his life revolves around books and academia to the extent that he seeks lightness and ecstasy by participating in marches and protests, the last of, a march in Thailand to the border with Cambodia. In Bangkok after the march, he is mortally wounded during a mugging. Karenin: The dog of Tomáš and Tereza. Although she is a female dog, the name is masculine and is a reference to Alexei Karenin, the husband in Anna Karenina. Karenin displays extreme dislike of change. Once moved to the countryside, Karenin becomes more content as she is able to enjoy more attention from her owners, she quickly befriends a pig named Mefisto. During this time Tomáš discovers that Karenin has cancer and after removing a tumor it is clear that Karenin is going to die. On her deathbed she unites Tereza and Tomáš through her "smile" at their attempts to improve her health. Challenging Friedrich Nietzsche's concept of eternal recurrence, the story's thematic meditations posit the alternative: that each person has only one life to live and that which occurs in life occurs only once and never again – thus the "lightness" of being.
Moreover, this lightness signifies freedom. In the Constance Garnett translation of Tolstoy's "War and Peace" she gives us the phrase "strange lightness of being" during the description of Prince Andrey's death. In contrast, the concept of eternal recurrence imposes a "heaviness" on life and the decisions that are made – to borrow from Nietzsche's metaphor, it gives them "weight". Nietzsche believed this heaviness could be either a tremendous burden or great benefit depending on the individual's perspective; the "unbearable lightness" in the title refers to the lightness of love and sex, which are themes of the novel. Kundera portrays love as fleeting and based upon endless strings of coincidences, despite holding much significance for
Description of a Struggle
"Description of a Struggle" is a short story by Franz Kafka. It contains the dialogues "Conversation with the Supplicant" and "Conversation with the Drunk" "Description of a Struggle" is one of Kafka's earliest stories, not destroyed and is the earliest included in collections of his work. Kafka began the story in 1904 at the age of 20 and worked on it on and off until 1909, it is notable for being the story that Kafka first showed to his friend Max Brod and which convinced Brod that Kafka should further pursue his writing. Brod liked the story so much that he mentioned Kafka as an example of "the high level reached by German literature" in a theatre review of his, this before Kafka had been published. Brod convinced Kafka to submit his work to Franz Blei's literary journal Hyperion, which published a short fragment of the story in its inaugural 1908 issue. Two further chapters were published in the short-lived Hyperion's final issue in the spring of 1909. "Description of a Struggle" is divided into three chapters.
The first chapter is narrated by a young man attending a party and tells of his "acquaintance" that he meets there. The second chapter is itself split into several sections; the narrator leaps onto his acquaintance's back and rides him like a horse and imagines a landscape that responds to his every whim. He meets an extraordinarily fat man carried on a litter who tells him the story of a "supplicant" who prays by smashing his head into the ground. In the third chapter, the narrator returns to reality, so to speak, continues his walk up the Laurenziberg in winter with his acquaintance. "Description of a Struggle" is not considered one of Kafka's better works and it is dismissed by critics turned off by its fragmentary nature and lack of polish. John Updike, in his foreword to an English language collection of Kafka's stories calls it "repellent" containing "something of adolescent posturing" and advises new readers of Kafka to skip them. Updike encourages readers to return to these early stories.
The original version of "Description of a Struggle" ran to 110 pages long. This rewrite, only 58 pages, is the version, known today, it is not clear if the rest was lost or if he never finished it. In 1910 Kafka gave the manuscript to Brod, writing "what pleases me most about the novella, dear Max, is that it's out of the house." More fragments appeared in Kafka's first book, 1913's Meditations and the modern version of the story was assembled by Brod in 1935 after Kafka's death. The story was included in the posthumous collection of the same name. A short film loosely based on the work was made in 1993 by Tony Pemberton starring Parker Posey and himself; some of the scenes, like those depicting the fat man on his litter and those about the supplicant, are somewhat faithful to the original and use Kafka's dialogue verbatim, while others are variations on the theme that otherwise have little to do with it. Pemberton plays the part of the unnamed protagonist and Posey plays a female version of his acquaintance, the protagonist's ex-lover.
A monument to Kafka in Prague created by sculptor Jaroslav Róna is inspired by the events of the story. Description of a Struggle on IMDb Kafka biography at The Modern Word Franz Kafka's Prague: A Literary Walking Tour, by Marylin Bender Barbara Neymeyr: "Beschreibung eines Kampfes". In: Manfred Engel, Bernd Auerochs: Kafka-Handbuch. Leben - Werk - Wirkung. Metzler, Weimar 2010, 91-110, ISBN 978-3-476-02167-0
Carpathian Ruthenia, Carpatho-Ukraine or Zakarpattia is a historic region in the border between Central and Eastern Europe located in western Ukraine's Zakarpattia Oblast, with smaller parts in easternmost Slovakia and Poland's Lemkovyna. Before World War I most of this region was part of the Kingdom of Hungary. In the interwar period, it was part of the Second Czechoslovak Republic. During World War II, the region was annexed by the Kingdom of Hungary once again. After the war, it became part of Soviet Ukraine, it is an ethnically diverse region, inhabited by Ukrainian, Lemko, Slovak, Romanian and Russian populations. It has small Hutsul, Romani, Székely and Csango minorities; the name Carpathian Ruthenia is sometimes used for a contiguous cross-border area of Ukraine and Poland occupied by Ruthenians. Local Ruthenian population has a problem with self-identification and portion of them consider to be part of bigger Ukrainian family, while the other – a separate and unique Slavic group of Rusyns.
Some Carpathian Rusyns consider themselves part of bigger Russian nation. In regards to its region most Rusyns, use the term Zakarpattia; this is contrasted implicitly with Prykarpattia, an unofficial region in Ukraine, to the immediate north-east of the central area of the Carpathian Range, including its foothills, the Subcarpathian basin and part of the surrounding plains. From a Hungarian and Czech perspective the region is described as Subcarpathia, although technically this name refers only to a long, narrow basin that flanks the northern side of the mountains. During the period in which the region was administered by the Hungarian states it was referred to in Hungarian as Kárpátalja or the north-eastern regions of medieval Upper Hungary, which in the 16th century was contested between the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire; the Romanian name of the region is Maramureș which geographically located in eastern and south-eastern portion of the region. During the period of Czechoslovak administration in the first half of the 20th century, the region was referred to for a while as Rusinsko or Karpatske Rusinsko, as Subcarpathian Rus or Subcarpathian Ukraine, from 1928 as the Subcarpathoruthenian Land..
Alternative, unofficial names used in Czechoslovakia before World War II included Subcarpathia, Transcarpathian Ukraine, Carpathian Rus/Ruthenia and Hungarian Rus/Ruthenia. The region declared its independence as Carpatho-Ukraine on March 15, 1939, but was occupied and annexed by Hungary in March 15–18, 1939 and remained under Hungarian control until the end of the World War II. During this period the region continued to possess a special administration and the term Kárpátalja became more common. In 1944-1946, the region was occupied by the Soviet Army and was a separate political formation known as Transcarpathian Ukraine or Subcarpathian Ruthenia. During its period the region possessed some form of quasi-autonomy with its own legislation but under the government of the Communist Party of Transcarpathian Ukraine. After signing of a treaty between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union as well as the decision of the regional council, Transcarpathia joined the Ukrainian SSR as part of the Ukrainian region.
The region has subsequently been referred to as Zakarpattia or Transcarpathia, on occasions as Carpathian Rus’, Transcarpathian Rus’, Subcarpathian Rus’. Carpathian Ruthenia rests on the southern slopes of the eastern Carpathian Mountains, bordered to the east and south by the Tisza River, to the west by the Hornád and Poprad Rivers, which borders Poland, Slovakia and Romania, makes up part of the Pannonian Plain; the region predominantly rural and infrastructurally underdeveloped being dominated by mountainous relief and geographically separated from Ukraine and Romania by mountain range and Hungary by Tisza river. Major cities include Uzhhorod and Mukachevo and have population around 100,000, population of other five cities varies between 10,000-30,000. Other urban and rural populated places have population less than 10,000. Slavic tribes began to migrate from their Transcarpathia homeland in the 4th century, During the 440s, the Huns crossed through the territory and burst into east-central Europe, bringing with them Slavic peoples, some of whom settled in Carpathian Ruthenia.
A century one of the tribes living in the original Slavic homeland known as White Croats had begun to settle in the valleys of the northern as well as southern slopes of the Carpathian Mountains. Whereas some White Croats remained behind in Carpathian Ruthenia, most moved southward into the Balkan peninsula. In 896 the Hungarians crossed the Carpathian Range and m
Cosmas of Prague
Cosmas of Prague was a priest and historian born in a noble family in Bohemia. Between 1075 and 1081, he studied in Liège. After his return to Bohemia, he became a priest and married Božetěcha, with whom he had a son. In 1086, Cosmas was appointed prebendary of a prestigious position; as prebendary he travelled through Europe on official matters. His magnum opus, written in Latin, is called Chronica Boemorum; the Chronica is divided into three books: The first book, completed in 1119, starts with the creation of the world and ends in the year 1038. It describes the legendary foundation of the Bohemian state by the oldest Bohemians around the year 600, Duchess Libuše and the foundation of Přemyslid dynasty by her marriage with Přemysl, old bloody wars, Duke Bořivoj and the introduction of Christianity in Bohemia, Saint Wenceslaus and his grandmother Saint Ludmila, reign of the three Boleslavs, the life of Saint Adalbert and bloody wars after year 1000; the second book describes Bohemian history for the years 1038–1092.
The book starts with the heroic deeds of Duke Břetislav, known as the "Bohemian Achilles", for example with his victory over Poland. The Chronica describes the long and great reign of King Vratislav, known as a forceful ruler but a brave and good man. There is a reflection on his wars in Italy; the third book starts with a description of the time of instability and bloody civil wars after Vratislav's death between years 1092 and 1109. The Chronica ends with the reign of Vladislav between 1109 and 1125; the same year, 1125, Cosmas died. The continuation of Cosmas's chroncicle was followed by Cosmas's Followers, a group of chroniclers who wrote about the proceeding years. Cosmas of Prague. Wolverton, Lisa, ed; the chronicle of the Czechs. Washington, D. C.: Catholic University of America Press. ISBN 9780813215709. Archived from the original on 2013-10-14. Media related to Cosmas of Prague at Wikimedia Commons Chisholm, Hugh, ed.. "Cosmas". Encyclopædia Britannica. Cambridge University Press. Chronica Boemorum — the chronicle accessible on-line at Monumenta Germaniae Historica Cosmas biography English translation of the chronicle by Lisa Wolverton published by Catholic University of America Press
The Hunger Wall is a medieval defensive wall of the Lesser Town of Prague, today's Czech Republic. It was built on Petřín Hill between 1360 and 1362 by order of Charles IV. Marl from quarries on Petřín Hill was used as construction material; the purpose of the construction was to strengthen the fortifications of Prague Castle and Malá Strana against any attack from the west or south. The wall was 4 to 4.5 metres high and 1.8 metres wide and was equipped with battlements and eight bastions. The wall was repaired in 1624, further strengthened in the middle of 18th century and repaired or modified several times later. One of preserved bastions serves as a base for the dome of Štefánik Observatory. A well preserved part of the wall may be found in the interior yard of the 19th-century house in Plaská Street No.8. The wall was called Zubatá or Chlebová; the adjective Hladová appeared after a 1361 famine, when the construction works on the wall provided livelihood for the city's poor. According to myth, the purpose of the wall was not strategic but to employ and thus feed the poor.
Another myth, recorded in writings of Václav Hájek z Libočan or Bohuslav Balbín, is that the Emperor Charles IV himself worked on the wall several hours every day "to help his beloved people". The term hladová zeď has become a Czech euphemism for useless public works
Franz Kafka was a German-speaking Bohemian Jewish novelist and short-story writer regarded as one of the major figures of 20th-century literature. His work, which fuses elements of realism and the fantastic features isolated protagonists facing bizarre or surrealistic predicaments and incomprehensible socio-bureaucratic powers, has been interpreted as exploring themes of alienation, existential anxiety and absurdity, his best known works include "Die Verwandlung", Der Process, Das Schloss. The term Kafkaesque has entered the English language to describe situations like those found in his writing. Kafka was born into a middle-class, German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, today the capital of the Czech Republic, he trained as a lawyer, after completing his legal education, was employed full-time by an insurance company, forcing him to relegate writing to his spare time. Over the course of his life, Kafka wrote hundreds of letters to family and close friends, including his father, with whom he had a strained and formal relationship.
He became engaged to several women but never married. He died in 1924 at the age of 40 from tuberculosis. Few of Kafka's works were published during his lifetime: the story collections Betrachtung and Ein Landarzt, individual stories were published in literary magazines but received little public attention. In his will, Kafka instructed his executor and friend Max Brod to destroy his unfinished works, including his novels Der Process, Das Schloss and Der Verschollene, but Brod ignored these instructions, his work has influenced a vast range of writers, critics and philosophers during the 20th and 21st centuries. Kafka was born near the Old Town Square in Prague part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, his family were German-speaking middle-class Ashkenazi Jews. His father, Hermann Kafka, was the fourth child of Jakob Kafka, a shochet or ritual slaughterer in Osek, a Czech village with a large Jewish population located near Strakonice in southern Bohemia. Hermann brought the Kafka family to Prague.
After working as a travelling sales representative, he became a fashion retailer who employed up to 15 people and used the image of a jackdaw as his business logo. Kafka's mother, was the daughter of Jakob Löwy, a prosperous retail merchant in Poděbrady, was better educated than her husband. Kafka's parents spoke a German influenced by Yiddish, sometimes pejoratively called Mauscheldeutsch, but, as the German language was considered the vehicle of social mobility, they encouraged their children to speak Standard German. Hermann and Julie had six children. Franz's two brothers and Heinrich, died in infancy before Franz was seven. All three died during the Holocaust of World War II. Valli was deported to the Łódź Ghetto in occupied Poland in 1942, but, the last documentation of her. Ottilie was Kafka's favourite sister. Hermann is described by the biographer Stanley Corngold as a "huge, overbearing businessman" and by Franz Kafka as "a true Kafka in strength, appetite, loudness of voice, self-satisfaction, worldly dominance, presence of mind, knowledge of human nature".
On business days, both parents were absent from the home, with Julie Kafka working as many as 12 hours each day helping to manage the family business. Kafka's childhood was somewhat lonely, the children were reared by a series of governesses and servants. Kafka's troubled relationship with his father is evident in his Brief an den Vater of more than 100 pages, in which he complains of being profoundly affected by his father's authoritarian and demanding character; the dominating figure of Kafka's father had a significant influence on Kafka's writing. The Kafka family had a servant girl living with them in a cramped apartment. Franz's room was cold. In November 1913 the family moved into a bigger apartment, although Ellie and Valli had married and moved out of the first apartment. In early August 1914, just after World War I began, the sisters did not know where their husbands were in the military and moved back in with the family in this larger apartment. Both Ellie and Valli had children. Franz at age 31 moved into Valli's former apartment, quiet by contrast, lived by himself for the first time.
From 1889 to 1893, Kafka attended the Deutsche Knabenschule German boys' elementary school at the Masný trh/Fleischmarkt, now known as Masná Street. His Jewish education ended with his Bar Mitzvah celebration at the age of 13. Kafka never enjoyed attending the synagogue and went with his father only on four high holidays a year. After leaving elementary school in 1893, Kafka was admitted to the rigorous classics-oriented state gymnasium, Altstädter Deutsches Gymnasium, an academic secondary school at Old Town Square, within the Kinský Palace. German was the language of instruction, but Kafka spoke and wrote in Czech, he studied the latter at the gymnasium for eight years. Although Kafka received compliments for his Czech, he never considered himself fluent in Czech, though he spoke German with a Czech accent, he completed his Matura exams in 1901. Admitted to the Deutsche Karl-Ferdinands-Universität of Pra