Milan Kundera

Czech Republic
Born on 1 Apr 1929
Writer

Texts

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Can We Really Know the Present? (11)

Man can only be certain about the present moment. But is that quite true either? Can he really know the present? Is he in a position to make any judgment about it? Certainly not. For how can a person...
Ignorance

Do Stories Have Something to Say? (12)

Do stories, apart from happening, being, have something to say? For all my skepticism, some trace of irrational superstition did survive in me, the strange conviction, for example, that everything in...
The Joke

Dreaming Beauty (13)

Dreaming is not merely an act of communication (or coded communication, if you like); it is also an aesthetic activity, a game of the imagination, a game that is a value in itself. Our dreams prove t...
The Unbearable Lightness of Being

People Deceive Themselves (14)

Yes, suddenly I saw it clearly: most people deceive themselves with a pair of faiths: they believe in eternal memory (of people, things, deeds, nations) and in redressibility (of deeds, mistakes, sin...
The Joke

The Role of the Past (15)

Remembering our past, carrying it around with us always, may be the necessary requirement for maintaining, as they say, the wholeness of the self. To ensure that the self doesn’t shrink, to see that ...
Identity

Your Face is not You (16)

Just imagine living in a world without mirrors. You'd dream about your face and imagine it as an outer reflection of what is inside you. And then, when you reached forty, someone put a mirror before ...
Immortality

The Real Beauty of the Women (17)

A mismatched outfit, a slightly defective denture, an exquisite mediocrity of the soul-those are the details that make a woman real, alive. The women you see on posters or in fashion magazines-the on...
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

Lovers Agreement (18)

Every love relationship rests on an unwritten agreement unthinkingly concluded by the lovers in the first weeks of their love. They are still in a kind of dream but at the same time, without knowing ...
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

Why Tell the Truth? (19)

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 ...
Laughable Loves

The Basis of the Self (20)

"I think, therefore I am" is the statement of an intellectual who underrates toothaches. "I feel, therefore I am" is a truth much more universally valid, and it applies to everything that's alive. My...
Immortality
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On Anger: "For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind."
Essays
On Destiny: "Our destiny exercises its influence over us even when, as yet, we have not learned its nature: it is our future that lays down the law of our today."
Human, All Too Human
On Friendship: "A crowd is not company; and faces are but a gallery of pictures; and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love."
Essays