Milan Kundera


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

Author Quotes

We will never be able to establish with certainty the extent to which our relationships with others are a product of our feelings, our love, our hate, good or evil, and to what extent are the result of the relationship of forces between them and we.

What is unique about the "I" hides itself exactly in what is unimaginable about a person. All we are able to imagine is what makes everyone like everyone else, what people have in common. The individual "I" is what differs from the common stock, that is, what cannot be guessed at or calculated, what must be unveiled, uncovered, conquered.

When I was small and would leaf through the Old Testament retold for children and illustrated in engravings by Gustave Dore, I saw the Lord God standing on a cloud. He was an old man with eyes, nose, and a long beard, and I would say to myself that if He had a mouth, He had to eat. And if He ate, He had intestines. But that always gave me a fright, because even though I come from a family that was not particularly religious, I felt the idea of a divine intestine to be sacrilegious. Spontaneously, without any theological training, I, a child, grasped the incompatibility of God and shit... Either/or: either man was created in God's image-- and God has intestines!-- or God lacks intestines and man is not like him... Shit is a more onerous theological problem than is evil. Since God gave man freedom, we can, if need be, accept the idea that He is not responsible for man's crimes. The responsibility for shit, however, rests entirely with Him, the Creator of man.

Who are the greatest misogynists in the world? Women! No man?not even Mr. Klima, who?s already been twice stuck with a paternity claim?I say, no man feels such resentment against women as women do against their own sex. Why do you think they chase after us men? Only to wound and humiliate their sisters. God put misogyny in the hearts of women because he wanted the human race to multiply.

Yes, the essence of every love is a child, and it makes no difference at all whether it has ever actually been conceived or born. In the algebra of love a child is the symbol of the magical sum of two beings.

Young scary: Its? theater moves children on crutches and a high of more versatile clothing, and casting formats educated understand half understand, but they cling to them fanatically. History scary, too, who often uses the field of play for the immature, the field of play for Nero boy, the boy Bonaparte, for children electrified crowds that turn her emotions counterfeit and roles Simplified to reality disastrous.

We will never cease our critique of those persons who distort the past, rewrite it, falsify it, who exaggerate the importance of one event and fail to mention some other; such a critique is proper (it cannot fail to be), but it doesn't count for much unless a more basic critique precedes it: a critique of human memory as such. For after all, what can memory actually do, the poor thing? It is only capable of retaining a paltry little scrap of the past, and no one knows why just this scrap and not some other one, since in each of us the choice occurs mysteriously, outside our will or our interests. We won't understand a thing about human life if we persist in avoiding the most obvious fact: that a reality no longer is what it was when it was; it cannot be reconstructed. Even the most voluminous archives cannot help.

What makes a leftist a leftist is not this or that theory but his ability to integrate any theory into the kitsch called the Grand March.

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.

What do you want me to do for you?

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