Milan Kundera Additional Biography

Biography

Milan Kundera was born into a highly cultured and sophisticated family of a Brno pianist, Milada Janosikova, and a distinguished professor of Janáek’s Academy of Music, Ludvík Kundera. Thus, in addition to literature, among those early interests that he took seriously was music. In 1948, the year of a Communist coup in Czechoslovakia, Kundera began his study at the Charles University in Prague and simultaneously attended the famous film school of the Prague Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, from which he graduated in 1958 after being forced to withdraw from 1950 to 1956 because of his expulsion from the Communist Party. During that hiatus, he composed poetry (a genre in which he had been publishing since 1949) and music, including “Composition for Four Instruments” and a setting of verses by Guillaume Apollinaire, an author who much influenced Kundera’s own poetry. The Prague film school also became his employer: There, he taught world literature. In 1963, he married Vera Hrabankova and joined the editorial board of the journal Literarni noviny.

Having associated himself strongly with the movement known variously as the Prague Spring and “socialism with a human face,” Kundera fell into disfavor following the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union. His works were put on the censor’s index and withdrawn from the libraries, and he was left without any means of support when forced out of his professorship in 1970....

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Biography

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Milan Kundera (koon-DEHR-uh) was born on April 1, 1929, in Brno, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic), to Ludvík and Milada Janosikova Kundera. He grew up in the provincial capital of Brno and then went to Prague to attend Charles University and the Film Faculty of the Prague Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. In 1947, he joined the Communist Party. Like the majority of his compatriots, he initially celebrated the Communists’ rise to power after World War II as a victory of the future over the past; like them, he soon regretted this decision and found himself at odds with the party. In 1950, he was expelled for “ideological differences” and left Prague to work as a laborer and jazz pianist in the provinces. In 1956, he was reinstated in the party, and two years later he became an assistant professor at the Institute for Advanced Cinematographic Studies of the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts.

In 1963, he became a member of the central committee of the Czechoslovak Writers’ Union. Between 1963 and 1968, Kundera’s poetry, plays, and fiction made him one of the most important literary figures in Prague. His collections of short stories, entitled Smne lásky (1963, 1970; partial translation as Laughable Loves, 1974), were immensely popular and were awarded the Czechoslovak Writers’ Publishing House Prize. His first novel ert (1967; The Joke, 1969, revised, 1982), which was finally published unchanged after a two-year battle with the censors, quickly went through three editions and received the Union of Czechoslovak Writers’ Prize. With other prominent writers, such as Ludvik Vaculik and Ivan Klima, Kundera used his stature in the Writers’ Union to press for “socialism with a human face” and thereby helped to usher in the Prague Spring of 1968.

When Soviet tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia and crushed this reform movement, Kundera and these other writers were immediately...

(The entire section is 801 words.)

Biography

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Milan Kundera has often objected to political readings of his fiction, emphasizing that his novels are about the existential dilemmas of his characters and complaining that Western readers have too often been drawn to the work of writers from “the other Europe” for the wrong reasons. He has often written of his ideas about the novel, the fate of central Europe, and the role of central Europe in the culture of the West. His interviews, essays, and comments are required reading for anyone who is interested in any of these matters. Finally, however, Kundera will be remembered for the power and accomplishment of his novels themselves. Together with those of his contemporaries from central, Eastern, and Western Europe and North, Central, and South America, his works amply demonstrate that the contemporary novel is anything but exhausted or dead.

Biography

Milan Kundera was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, on April 1, 1929. In addition to studying music, he attended Charles University in Prague. In...

(The entire section is 333 words.)

Biography

Milan Kundera was born April 1, 1929, in Brno, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic), the son of Ludvik and Milada Kundera. He studied...

(The entire section is 406 words.)