Milan Kundera


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

Author Quotes

What do you want me to do for you?

What those years said of themselves was that they were the most joyous of years, and anyone who failed to rejoice was immediately suspected of lamenting the victory of the working class or what was equally sinful giving way individualistically to inner sorrows.

When the heart has spoken, it is appropriate that the reason raises objections. The Kingdom of Kitsch exercises the dictatorship of the heart.

Why don't you ever use your strength on me? she said. Because love means renouncing strength, said Franz softly.

You can suffer nostalgia in the presence of the beloved if you glimpse a future where the beloved is no more.

What does it mean to live in truth? Putting it negatively is easy enough: it means not lying, not hiding, and not dissimulating.

What troubled her so, she thinks, is the dream's effect of nullifying the present. For she is passionately attached to her present; nothing in the world would induce her to trade it for the past or the future. That is why she dislikes dreams: they impose an unacceptable equivalence among the various periods of the same life, a leveling contemporaneity of everything a person has ever experienced; they discredit the present by denying it its privileged status. As in that night's dream: it obliterated a whole chunk of her life; in its place the past came lumbering in.

When the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to object. In the realm of kitsch, the dictatorship of the heart reigns supreme.

Why in fact should one tell the truth? What obliges us to do it? And why do we consider telling the truth to be a virtue? Imagine that you meet a madman, who claims that he is a fish and that we are all fish. Are you going to argue with him? Are you going to undress in front of him and show him that you don't have fins? Are you going to say to his face what you think? ... If you told him the whole truth and nothing but the truth, only what you thought, you would enter into a serious conversation with a madman and you yourself would become mad. And it is the same way with the world that surrounds us. If I obstinately told the truth to its face, it would mean that I was taking it seriously. And to take seriously something so unserious means to lose all one's own seriousness. I have to lie, if I don't want to take madmen seriously and become a madman myself.

You can understand nothing about art, particularly modern art, if you do not understand that imagination is a value in itself.

What happens but once might as well not have happened at all.

What we have not chosen we cannot consider either our merit or our failure... To rebel against being born a woman seemed as foolish to her as to take pride in it.

When we ignore the body, we are more easily victimized by it.

Why is it that a dog's menstruation made her lighthearted and gay, while her own menstruation made her squeamish? The answer seems simple to me: dogs were never expelled from Paradise. Karenin knew nothing about the duality of body and soul and had no concept of disgust. That is why Tereza felt so free and easy with him. (And that is why it is so dangerous to turn an animal into a machina animata, a cow into an automaton for the production of milk. By so doing, man cuts the thread binding him to Paradise and has nothing left to hold or comfort him on his flight through the emptiness of time.)

You cannot know what they should want, because living only one life and cannot compare to previous lives, nor to fix it in the next.

What happens necessarily, you need what is repeated every day is mute. Only chance speaks.

What we have not chosen we cannot consider either to our merit or our failure.

When you sit face to face with someone who is pleasant, respectful, and polite, you have hard time reminding yourself that nothing he says is true/sincere.

Will we be alone or within a crowd. Ah, the unit is little expectation to a large extent, have been rare in life, let alone after the death! Dead more than the living! In the best hypothesis, the object after death would resemble what Agnes is living now in the Hall of comfort: they hear all the gossip towards women that do not stop. Eternal Ktrthurh infinite: the frank, can imagine what is worse, but the idea of having to hear the voices of women, without truce and for all, the idea is precisely for Agnes reason enough to hold on to life fiercely, and delay death to the fullest extent possible

You know that only the embrace of death can appease him, that hug he fills the whole body and the whole and where finally find its greatness soul, knows that only death can avenge him and accuse him of murder who they mock.

What happens only once is like it never happened.

What? We feel aesthetic pleasure at a sonata by Beethoven and not at one with the same style and charm if it comes from one of our own contemporaries? Isn't that the height of hypocrisy? So then the sensation of beauty is not spontaneous, spurred by our sensibility, but instead is cerebral, conditioned by our knowing a date? No way around it: historical consciousness is so thoroughly inherent in our perception of art that this anachronism (a Beethoven piece written today) would be spontaneously (that is, without the least hypocrisy) felt to be ridiculous, false, incongruous, even monstrous. Our feeling for continuity is so strong that it enters into the perception of any work of art.

Whenever a single political movement corners power, we find ourselves in the realm of totalitarian kitsch. When I say ?totalitarian,? what I mean is that everything that infringes on kitsch must be banished for life: every display of individualism (because a deviation from the collective is a spit in the eye of the smiling brotherhood); every doubt (because anyone who starts doubting details will end by doubting life itself); all irony (because in the realm of kitsch everything must be taken quite seriously); and the mother who abandons her family or the man who prefers men to women, thereby calling into question the holy decree ?Be fruitful and multiply.?

With his death ended the sweet loneliness shared by the two.

You know what happens when the two talk. One speaks, the other chimes in his words, just like me, I ... and starts to talk to him until the first fails himself to push just like me, I ... The sentence just like me, I ... seems to be encouraging some echo, a way to keep the thought of the other, but it's just bait: in fact it is a brutal revolt against a brutal attack, an effort to rid our own ear of slavery and violent to win the ear of an opponent.

Author Picture
First Name
Last Name
Birth Date

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