Milan Kundera


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

Author Quotes

The novel is a meditation on existence as seen through the medium of imaginary characters.

The profile of our pain is not heavier than the pain that we suffer with the other and to the other and in the other place; pain compounded imagination and categories and resonances.

The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.

The worth of a human being lies in the ability to extend oneself, to go outside oneself, to exist in and for other people.

There is no means of testing which decision is better, because there is no basis for comparison. We live everything as it comes, without warning, like an actor going on cold. And what can life be worth if the first rehearsal for life is life itself? That is why life is always like a sketch. No, sketch is not quite a word, because a sketch is an outline of something, the groundwork for a picture, whereas the sketch that is our life is a sketch for nothing, an outline with no picture.

This symmetrical composition- the same motif appears at the beginning and at the end- may seem quite 'novelistic' to you, and I am willing to agree, but only on condition that you refrain from reading such notions as 'fictive,' 'fabricated,' and 'untrue to life' into the word 'novelistic.' Because human lives are composed in precisely such a fashion. They are composed like music. Guided by his sense of beauty, an individual transforms a fortuitous occurrence (Beethoven's music, death under a train), into a motif, which then assumes a permanent place in the composition of the individual's life... Without realizing it, the individual composes his life according to the laws of beauty even in times of greatest distress... The brain appears to possess a special area which we might call poetic memory and which records everything that charms or touches us, that makes our lives beautiful.

To love means renouncing strength.

Tomas turned the key and switched on the ceiling light. Teraza saw two beds pushed together, one of them flanked by a bedside table and a lamp. Up out of the lampshade, startled by the overhead light, flew a large nocturnal butterfly that began circling the room. The strains of the piano and violin rose up weakly from below.

We are weak in front of you praise!!

The novel is not the author's confession; it is an investigation of human life in the trap the world has become.

The proliferation of mass graphomania among politicians, cab drivers, women on the delivery table, mistresses, murderers, criminals, prostitutes, police chiefs, doctors, and patients proves to me that every individual without exception bears a potential writer within himself and that all mankind has every right to rush out into the streets with a cry of "We are all writers!"

The stupidity of people comes from having an answer for everything. The wisdom of the novel comes from having a question for everything....The novelist teaches the reader to comprehend the world as a question. There is wisdom and tolerance in that attitude. In a world built on sacrosanct certainties the novel is dead. The totalitarian world, whether founded on Marx, Islam, or anything else, is a world of answers rather than questions. There, the novel has no place.

The young man called the waiter and paid. Then he got up and said to the girl: 'We're going.'Where to?' The girl feigned surprise. Don't ask, just come on,' said the young man. Is that any way to talk to me? 'It's the way I talk to whores.?

There is no way to check what is the right decision because there is no comparison. Everything is immediately experienced for the first time and without preparation. As if a player entered the scene without ever repeated. But can be worth living if the first rehearsal of life is life itself already? This is what makes life still looks like a sketch. But even sketch 'is not the right word, because a sketch is always the draft of something, the preparation of a table, while the sketch that is our life is a sketch for nothing, the design without a painting.

This unexpected happiness, that comfort, that pleasure to produce freedom and new life, that was the gift he had left.

To love someone out of compassion means not really to love.

Too much faith is the worst ally. When you believe in something literally, through your faith you'll turn it into something absurd. One who is a genuine adherent, if you like, of some political outlook, never takes its sophistries seriously, but only its practical aims, which are concealed beneath these sophistries. Political rhetoric and sophistries do not exist, after all, in order that they be believed; rather, they have to serve as a common and agreed upon alibi. Foolish people who take them in earnest sooner or later discover inconsistencies in them, begin to protest, and finish finally and infamously as heretics and apostates. No, too much faith never brings anything good.

We can imagine that without love to follow the impact of our image in the mind of the beloved? When it stops our way that we show it in front of love, it means we did not like.

The novel was born with the Modern Era, which made man, to quote Heidegger, the only real subject, the ground for everything. It is largely through the novel that man as an individual was established on the European scene. Away from the novel, in our real lives, we know very little about our parents as they were before our birth; we have only fragmentary knowledge of the people close to us: we see them come and go and scarcely have they vanished than their place is taken over by others: they form a long line of replaceable beings. Only the novel separates out an individual, trains a light on his biography, his ideas, his feelings, makes him irreplaceable: makes him the center of everything.

The psychological and physiological mechanism of love is so complex that at a certain period in his life a young man must concentrate all his energy on coming to grips with it, and in this way he misses the actual content of the love: the woman he loves. (In this he is much like a young violinist who cannot concentrate on the emotional content of a piece until the technique required to play it comes automatically.)

The termites of reduction have always gnawed away at life: even the greatest love ends up as a skeleton of feeble memories.

Then came time for her to marry. She had nine suitors. They all knelt round her in a circle. Standing in the middle like a princess, she did not know which one to choose: one was the handsomest, another the wittiest, the third was the richest, the fourth was most athletic, the fifth from the best family, the sixth recited verse, the seventh traveled widely, the eighth played the violin, and the ninth was the most manly. But they all knelt in the same way, they all had the same calluses on their knees.

There is the need, but chance, is full of charm, if love should be unforgettable, coincidences must fly to him from the first moment.

This was exactly what the girl had most dreaded all her life and had scrupulously avoided until now: lovemaking without emotion or love. She knew that she had crossed the forbidden boundary, but she proceeded across it without objections and as a full participant; only somewhere, far off in a corner of her consciousness, did she feel horror at the thought that she had never known such pleasure, never so much pleasure as at this moment--beyond that boundary.

To occupy the stage he must repel others. This implies a special fighting technique. the struggle of the dancer, Pontevin called the moral judo dancer throws down the gauntlet to the world: that is able to be more moral (more courageous, more honest, more sincere, more willing to sacrifice more truthful) than he? And handles all sockets that allow him to put the other in a situation morally inferior.

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