On July 11, local time, 94-year-old Milan Kundera (Milan Kundera) died of illness in his apartment in Paris, France. The news shocked the world.
He was nominated several times for the Nobel Prize in Literature, but never won it, and his position in the world literary world has long been established.
In China, famous writers such as Mo Yan, Wang Anyi, and Yu Hua are all his readers, and works such as Wang Xiaobo’s “Golden Age” are also considered to be some kind of “copying” of him. In addition to profoundly influencing several generations of authors at different levels such as perspective, novel aesthetics, and narrative techniques, some of Kundera’s insights in essay collections such as “The Art of the Novel”, “The Betrayed Will”, and “The Curtain” are still used as “” The Golden Sentence” is frequently quoted by people. And Kundera himself has long been “hidden” in the public eye, and has become a “ghost writer” in bustling Paris.
Writer Lu Min recalled to a reporter from Nandu that there was a time when domestic literary youths “must call Kundera” in their words, so that later aroused some people’s rebellious psychology, and deliberately “cold” and avoided talking about it. Until recent years, more and more readers began to approach this literary master with a more sincere and plain attitude, and read his works with a “normal temperature”.
Rereading is the best memory.
The “Kundera fever” that once swept China
After the news of Milan Kundera’s death came out, Lu Min’s circle of friends was “swiped”.
”Our generation of literature lovers can be said to have experienced a period when ‘everyone must talk about Kundera’.” Lu Min recalled, “Around the 1990s, with the introduction of translations of related works, people around us seemed to be very interested in Kundera. Passionate about talking about him.” The publication and distribution data of that year can also support the “Kundera craze” sweeping the country – in 1987, the Chinese translation of “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” was published by Writers Publishing House, with a first printing of 24,000 copies 700,000 copies were printed in the first year after it was approved for public release.
For the literary youth at that time, Kundera’s works showed from another dimension how people write about the relationship between themselves, their country, their era, and the difficulties they faced. The creators feel full of novelty.
Many concepts and sayings in Kundera’s book, such as “lightness and heaviness”, “spirit and flesh”, “kitsch (translated as kitsch)”, etc., have gone beyond the scope of literary reading and become social buzzwords or literary criticism. standard. Interestingly, Lu Min mentioned to the Nandu reporter that around the beginning of the new century, it was obvious that for a period of time, people “put him down” and deliberately “left him out”. Do you think we have consumed Kundera too much, or overestimated him? Does he really have that great influence on us? But in fact, he has stayed in our early reading path, or literary writing It has deeply influenced a large number of creators.” The poet Han Dong also wrote in Moments: “Before, I didn’t want to mention it because it was too popular, but Kundera is indeed great. At least three The full-length novel is an almost perfect work of art…”
The influence of “Kundera Fever” back then has faded, and until today, Lu Min can still remember some plots in the book, such as the young man and woman in “Hitchhiking Game” dialogue; still regard some of his works as pillow books.
A “wandering writer” who has experienced the great changes of the times
Milan Kundera was born in a family of pianists in Brno, Czechoslovakia in 1929. He spent a critical period of growth in this small European country and received a good art education. At the age of thirteen, he studied composition with Paul Haas, one of the best Czech composers. Later, during World War II, the artist was imprisoned in a concentration camp and never came out again. Kundera’s first poem was “In Memory of Paul Haas”.
In 1948, 19-year-old Milan Kundera was admitted to the Philosophy Department of Charles University in Prague, but he still often went to music classes. Later, he went to the Prague Film Academy to study film and graduated there, and then stayed on to teach world literature. During this period, he published the world-famous novel “Joke”.
In August 1968, the Soviet army captured Czechoslovakia, and Kundera’s fortunes changed abruptly. He lost his teaching position at the Film Academy, works such as “The Joke” also disappeared from bookstores and libraries, and he was also prohibited from publishing any new works. But Kundera’s writing didn’t stop. In fact, he was in a period of high productivity. He successively wrote the novels “Living Elsewhere”, “Farewell Waltz” and the play “Jacques and His Master”, and tried to publish them in other countries.
In 1973, “Life Is Elsewhere” was published in Paris and won the French Medici Foreign Fiction Award. Two years later, he was hired as a professor at the University of Rennes in France, but was forced to choose to leave his home country. He recalled: “We, my wife and I, took four suitcases and a few cartons of books and drove away. This is all we took away.” In 1979, Kundera’s novel ”
Laughing Oblivion” was published in France, which marked the beginning of his “French period”. Also in this year, the Czech government revoked his citizenship. “According to the law, as soon as your citizenship is revoked, the Czechs can no longer have any contact with you. Suddenly, all contact with the Czech nation becomes illegal. For them, you no longer exist… Kundera once said that for him, the concept of home is “very vague.”
In 1984, Kundera published his representative novel “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”. In 1988, American director Philip Kaufman adapted it into the movie “Prague Love”, which was a great success. But for Kundera, Prague has always been a complex emotional image.
Until his later years, Kundera seemed to have finally reconciled with his “home country” the Czech Republic.
In 1995, the Czech government decided to award one of the country’s highest awards, the “Meritorious Award”, to Milan Kundera. He accepted it and said publicly: “I am very moved. It may be said that I am particularly moved by Vaclav Kundera. A letter from Havel (the President of the Czech Republic at the time) to me. Especially the sentence in the letter: He regards this award as an end to the relationship between me and the motherland, and the relationship between the motherland and me.” 2008 In 2010, Milan Kundera won the Czech National Prize for Literature.
A full 40 years after his Czech citizenship was revoked, in 2019, the Czech ambassador to France, on behalf of the Czech government, officially returned Czech citizenship to Kundera and his wife.
After Kundera’s death, Czech Prime Minister Peter Fiala said: “Milan Kundera is a writer who has influenced generations of readers on all continents and is famous all over the world.” “He not only left behind famous novels, but also Significant prose work.”
“Great hermit in the city” in his later years
In his later years, Milan Kundera lived in reclusive life, refused to appear in the media, and even had almost no communication with the outside world. Dong Qiang, dean of Peking University’s Yenching Academy, was one of the few people allowed to approach him as his only Asian student.
In 2017, Dong Qiang met Milan Kundera for the last time. He recalled to a reporter from Nandu, “At that time, the teacher was already sick and insisted on picking me up at the subway station. I saw his legs limping, so I asked him what was wrong with concern, but he didn’t take it seriously. I felt very sad. Sad, but it’s inconvenient to say more.”
That meeting, the two chatted happily. Dong Qiang said: “We talked about Goethe who was inspired by reading a Chinese novel in the Ming and Qing Dynasties and put forward the concept of ‘world literature’. Kundera said modestly that he didn’t know much about Chinese novels. Knowing that his works are very popular in China, he expressed his surprise and was deeply relieved.”
Today, Chinese readers’ interest in Kundera has not diminished. If it is said that when Kundera’s works were translated into China, some misreadings or false readings were encountered, now more and more people are beginning to try to approach this literary master with a more sincere and plain attitude.
In 2021, “Milan Kundera: A Writer’s Life” by the French writer Jean-Dominique Brier will be published in China. This is the first biography of Kundera authorized and introduced in China. Xu Jun, one of the Chinese translators of this biography, wrote at the end of the preface: “For Kundera, there are various contradictory statements and evaluations; for his novels, there are also various paradoxical interpretations. For Kundera, who deliberately avoids the public and ‘covers up’ his personal history, readers still have many mysteries… With all these questions, read the “Milan Kundera: A A Kind of Writer’s Life”, we may be able to find some of our own answers.”
Regarding Kundera’s novel creation, Wang Hongtu, a professor of the Chinese Department of Fudan University, commented: “If you look at the origin of literary history, his most important Literary resources, I think it should be French literature in the 18th century, such as Diderot. What he valued in literature was not emotional comfort, but rationality and wisdom, so his vision was that of a wise man. He has a An ironic, lucid deconstructive consciousness, expecting to reveal the uncertainties in life.”