Milan Kundera


Czech-born French Writer, Playwright and Author who lived in exiled in France

Author Quotes

When she is older she will see in these resemblances a regrettable uniformity among individuals (they all stop at the same spots to kiss, have the same tastes in clothing, flatter a woman with the same metaphor) and a tedious monotony among events (they are all just an endless repetition of the same one); but in her adolescence she welcomes these coincidences as miraculous and she is avid to decipher their meanings.

Whoever feels aversion for the dancers and wants to denigrate always come up against an insurmountable obstacle: their honesty, because by constantly exposing the public, the dancer is condemned to be perfect and he has not concluded as Faust a contract with the Devil, he concluded with the angel, he wants to make his life a work of art and it is in this work that using the Angel, because, remember, Dance is an art! It is this obsession to see in his own life the subject of a work of art that is the true essence of the dancer, he does not preach morality, the dance! He wants to move and dazzle the world with the beauty of her life! He loves his life as a sculptor can be in love with the statue he is taking shape (Chapter 6).

Yes, they have. It was back when they still didn't know each other by name. In the great hall of a mountain lodge, with people drinking and chattering around them, they exchanged a few commonplaces, but the tone of their voices made it clear that they wanted each other, and they withdrew into an empty corridor where, wordlessly, they kissed. She opened her mouth and pressed her tongue into Jean Marc's mouth, eager to lick whatever she would find inside. This zeal of their tongues was not a sensual necessity but an urgency to let each other know that they were prepared to make love, right away, instantly, fully and wildly and without losing a moment.

Youth is a terrible thing: it is a stage trod by children in buskins and fancy costumes mouthing speeches they've memorized and fanatically believe but only half understand.

What did he tell you with your gift? That was free. To live as he wanted to live, that was where I wanted to go. He never had dared. So he had given all the means at his daughter for her daring.

What remains of the dying population of Cambodia? One large photograph of an American actress holding an Asian child in her arms. What remains of Tomas? An inscription reading: He wanted the Kingdom of God on Earth. What remains of Beethoven? A frown, an improbable mane, and a somber voice intoning Es muss sein! What remains of Franz? An inscription reading: A return after long wanderings. And so on and so forth. Before we are forgotten, we will be turned into kitsch. Kitsch is the stopover between being and oblivion.

When someone declares, arrogantly boasted, belonging to the younger generation, we know very well what he meant: meant that he would be still alive, while others languish in laughter raises under the soil.

Whoever loses his human solitude has lost everything and who willingly ignore the giant is not exceeded. So you have to hide your love I'm not suffering. The only way that would allow me to live in truth.

You are beautiful, he said, but I will have to leave you.

Youth is substantially better off: it is not burdened by guilt, and the revolution can accept young people in toto. The uncertainty of revolutionary times is an advantage for youth, because it is the world of the fathers that is challenged. How exciting to enter into the age of maturity over the shattered ramparts of the adult world!

What distinguishes the educated person from self-taught, not the amount of knowledge, but varying degrees of vitality and self-confidence.

What she meant was: I want you to be weak. As weak as I am.

When the Comrades classified my conduct and my smile as intellectual (another notorious pejorative of the times), I actually came to believe them because I couldn?t imagine (I wasn?t bold enough to imagine it) that anyone else might be wrong, that the Revolution itself, the spirit of the times, might be wrong and I, an individual, might be right. I began to keep tabs on my smiles, and soon I felt a tiny crack opening up between the person I had been and the person I should be (according to the spirit of the times) and tried to be.

Whoever seeks the infinite has only to close his eyes.

You can never know what to want, because you only get one life and you cannot even compare it to previous lives or correct it in later life.

Youth is terrible: it is a stage trod by children in buskins and a variety of costumes mouthing speeches they've memorized and fanatically believe but only half understand. And history is terrible because it so often ends up a playground for the immature; a playground for the young Nero, a playground for the young Bonaparte, a playground for the easily roused mobs of children whose simulated passions and simplistic poses suddenly metamorphose into a catastrophically real reality.

The sound of laughter is like the vaulted dome of a temple of happiness, that delectable trance of happiness, that ultimate peak of delight. Laughter of delight, delight of laughter. There is no doubt: this laughter goes far beyond joking, jeering, and ridicule. The two sisters stretched out on their bed are not laughing at anything concrete, their laughter has no object; it is an expression of being rejoicing at being... and in this ecstatic laughter he loses all memory, all desire, cries out to the immediate present of the world, and needs no other knowledge.

The world loses its transparency little by little, it becomes hermetically and sticks to understand, likes the unknown, while escaping the man who betrayed the world, within itself, to longing, to dreams, to the revolution, do not come back he could hear the voices questioning from abroad after the valves sound the painful rise in the inside

There is no any possibility to check which of the choices is the best, because there is no comparison. The man lives all the first and unprepared. As if his work would represent an actor without any trial. But what value can have life if the first rehearsal for life is life itself already? So life seems a sketch. But even sketch is the right word, because a sketch is always a rough draft of something, preparing for a picture, whereas the sketch that is our life is a sketch for nothing, without frame comp... If man can only live one life is as if he lived at all.

This reconciliation with Hitler reveals the profound moral perversity of a world that rests essentially on the nonexistence of return, for in this world everything is pardoned in advance and therefore everything cynically permitted.

To love a woman and sleep with her ??are two not only different, but almost the opposite side. Love is manifested not by carnal desire (this desire can refer to a huge number of women), and by a desire to share my dream (that request should be directed only to a single woman).

Tomas said, sleep with a woman and sleep with her, here are two not only different, but almost contradictory passions. Love manifests itself not by the desire to make love (this desire applies to countless multitude women) but by the desire for shared sleep (this desire relates to only one woman).

We are born one time only. We can never start a new life equipped with the experience we've gained from the previous one. We leave childhood without knowing what youth is, we marry without knowing what it is to be married, and even when we enter old age, we don't know what it is we're heading for: the old are innocent children innocent of their old age. In that sense, man's world is the planet of inexperience.

The more vast the amount of time we've left behind us, the more irresistible is the voice calling us to return to it.

The pressure to make public retractions of past statements - there's something medieval about it. What does it mean, anyway, to 'retract' what you've said? How can anyone state categorically that a thought he once had is no longer valid? In modern times an idea can be refuted, yes, but not retracted.

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Czech-born French Writer, Playwright and Author who lived in exiled in France