Milan Kundera (French, born in Brno, 1 April ) is a world famous writer of Czech origin, best known as the author of the novel ‘The Unbearable Lightness of . Milan Kundera’s famous essay, The Tragedy of Central Europe, marks the great debate around which many dissidents and scholars had their. At the author’s request, the article you are trying to read is not available on this site. We apologize for any inconvenience and encourage you to.

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What initially looked like a requiem, however, soon gained an altogether more optimistic sheen. Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the Kremlin, the Soviet Bloc showed signs of opening its windows and then eutope multi-ethnic, cosmopolitan Central Europe eulogised so evocatively by Kundera was traged re-spun as a symbol of what Europe could be again, rather than what had forever been left behind.

However, the cultural concerns addressed by Kundera have not necessarily gone away simply because the context has changed. Europe is still sandwiched between two superpowers with differing worldviews, and small nations can still be the bearers of important truths.

Growing up in Kundera’s Central Europe

Although this is a utopia, it is well worth revisiting. It is hard to imagine that Western newspapers would ever give so much space to non-English-speaking intellectuals today.

But where exactly was Central Europe? Not just because the Habsburg state seemed to represent a culturally pluralist community of many nations, but also because Vienna prior to the First World War had been the crucible of European modernism.

While the ethnic pluralism of Central Europe was celebrated, there was at the same time a clear view of what Central Europe was not: Orthodox Christian, Islamic or Russian. Not everybody liked the concept.


Shifting contexts : The boundaries of Milan Kundera’s Central Europe | Charles Sabatos

It is clear that for Kundera Central Europe was in large part defined by its novelists Franz Kafka, Robert Musil, Hermann Broch and Jaroslav Hasek were his four favouritesand that the act of writing novels was one of the things that helped to define European civilisation as a whole.

I asked them about whether Central Europe was still important and where, if anywhere, it could actually be found. Zmeskal was the first of three writers I met and it was clear from the outset that Central Europe was for him a historical curiosity rather than a current concern. And there is a certain discontinuity in Czech intellectual life anyway: Skvorecky lived in Canada, Kundera is still in France; few of our generation have ever met writers like this in person, and I know very few older colleagues have ever spent drinking time with them.

His novels were enthusiastically devoured by a young Miljenko Jergovic. His latest book, the monumental part-novel, part family autobiography Rod The Clanwas published in Croatia at the end of By aboutjust about everyone who read books at all was reading Kundera. Indeed, contemporary Croatia is one country where the idea of Central Europe still hovers in the background whenever cultural identity becomes the subject of public debate.

It is a country whose eastern half has been in the Russian cultural orbit since at least the seventeenth century, but whose western half spent much of its history under the Lithuanian Grand Dukes, Habsburgs or Poles.

[The] tragedy of Central Europe | Books | European Parliament

Here, the debate about belonging to Central Europe, or indeed any Europe, remains very much alive. Born in Ivano-Frankivsk inYuri Andrukhovych is one of the most prolific and influential Ukrainian literary figures, with five novels and numerous collections of poetry and essays to his name. So we have to do this work with other parts of Ukraine first of all, and then propose a common Ukrainian vision of what Europe means kundsra us.


It is a key image for Andrukhovych, not just because it provides us with a bit of family history his Ukrainian and Silesian German forefathers could only ever have met in the multi-kulti world of the Habsburg Monarchybut also because it places western Ukraine firmly within the Central Europe of archdukes and europr hussars. The book Moja Europa My Europeco-written by Andrukhovych and Polish writer Andrzej Stasiuk inwas in many ways an attempt to reconsider the nature of Central Europe for the post generation.

Central European death is a prison death or a concentration-camp death, and by extension a collective death. One cannot help feeling that Moja Europa would be a very different book if it were rewritten today: There is no room for compromise.

It is all too tempting to think of the Central European idea itself as this train, lying abandoned in a railway siding somewhere in western Ukraine, its writers gazing forlornly from fogged-up windows. But as long as they are still writing, it is still worth talking about the train. Jonathan Bousfield talks to three award-winning novelists who spent their formative years in a Central Europe that Milan Kundera once described as the kidnapped West.

It transpires that small nations may still be the bearers of important truths.

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