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41 Thoughtful Milan Kundera Quotes

Milan Kundera was born on April 1, 1929 in Brno, a city in the Czech Republic. He is best known for his works such as The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Joke, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, among many others.

He studied literature in Prague before pursuing Film and Cinematography. He joined the Communist Party in 1947 but was excluded in 1950. His first work, a collection of poems, was published in 1953. He was inspired by the Prague Spring and he would write about his experience of living under a totalitarian regime.

In 1968 the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia, leaving no space for freedom of expression. Kundera’s novels were censored and not available in bookstores and libraries, until the Velvet Revolution in 1989. Seeking exile, he moved to France in 1975 and in 1981, he obtained the French nationality. In 1984, he published The Unbearable Lightness of Being which became a huge success.

Although his novels deal with society at the time of the Soviet invasion, Kundera treats highly sensitive topics which are of actuality in our modern society: history, translation, sexuality, remembering and forgetting history.

Milan Kundera is widely read and quoted around the globe. He received some notable awards such as the Prix Médicis étranger in 1973 for Life is Elsewhere. In 2012, he won the literary prize awarded by the Bibliothèque nationale de France.


Milan Kundera Quotes

I think I am a much better actor than I have allowed myself to be.

Milan Kundera

There are no small parts. Only small actors.

Milan Kundera

The stupidity of people comes from having an answer for everything. The wisdom of the novel comes from having a question for everything.

Milan Kundera
The Stupidity of people - Milan Kundera quote

Nothing is more repugnant to me than brotherly feelings grounded in the common baseness people see in one another.

Milan Kundera

Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of non-thought.

Milan Kundera

Nudity is the uniform of the other side… nudity is a shroud.

Milan Kundera

Optimism is the opium of the people.

Milan Kundera

The best actors do not let the wheels show.

Milan Kundera

How goodness heightens beauty!

Milan Kundera

The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.

Milan Kundera
The struggle of man against power

Mysticism and exaggeration go together. A mystic must not fear ridicule if he is to push all the way to the limits of humility or the limits of delight.

Milan Kundera

Culture is perishing in overproduction, in an avalanche of words, in the madness of quantity.

Milan Kundera

There is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one’s own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels for someone, for someone, pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echos.

Milan Kundera

Those who consider the Devil to be a partisan of Evil and angels to be warriors for Good accept the demagogy of the angels. Things are clearly more complicated.

Milan Kundera

True human goodness, in all its purity and freedom, can come to the fore only when its recipient has no power.

Milan Kundera

Without realizing it, the individual composes his life according to the laws of beauty even in times of greatest distress.

Milan Kundera

Without the meditative background that is criticism, works become isolated gestures, historical accidents, soon forgotten.

Milan Kundera

People are going deaf because music is played louder and louder, but because they’re going deaf, it has to be played louder still.

Milan Kundera

The sound of laughter is like the vaulted dome of a temple of happiness.

Milan Kundera

Hate traps us by binding us too tightly to our adversary.

Milan Kundera

A worker may be the hammer’s master, but the hammer still prevails. A tool knows exactly how it is meant to be handled, while the user of the tool can only have an approximate idea.

Milan Kundera

All great novels, all true novels, are bisexual.

Milan Kundera

Ambition is a poor excuse for not having sense enough to be lazy.

Milan Kundera

Remembering our past, carrying it with us always, may be the necessary requirement for maintaining, as they say, the wholeness of the self.

Milan Kundera

Art is the human disposition of sensible or intelligible matter for an esthetic end.

Milan Kundera
Art is the human - Kundera Quote

Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.

Milan Kundera

Eroticism is like a dance: one always leads the other.

Milan Kundera

No matter how much we scorn it, kitsch is an integral part of the human condition.

Milan Kundera

Happiness is the longing for repetition.

Milan Kundera

Perhaps we become aware of our age only at exceptional moments and most of the time we are ageless.

Milan Kundera

No great movement designed to change the world can bear to be laughed at or belittled. Mockery is a rust that corrodes all it touches.

Milan Kundera

He took over anger to intimidate subordinates, and in time anger took over him.

Milan Kundera

I find myself fascinating.

Milan Kundera

Let us consider the critic, therefore, as a discoverer of discoveries.

Milan Kundera

Listening to a news broadcast is like smoking a cigarette and crushing the butt in the ashtray.

Milan Kundera

Metaphors are dangerous. Love begins with a metaphor. Which is to say, love begins at the point when a woman enters her first word into our poetic memory.

Milan Kundera

A novel that does not uncover a hitherto unknown segment of existence is immoral. Knowledge is the novel’s only morality.

Milan Kundera

For a novelist, a given historic situation is an anthropologic laboratory in which he explores his basic question: What is human existence?

Milan Kundera

The light that radiates from the great novels time can never dim, for human existence is perpetually being forgotten by man and thus the novelists discoveries, however old they may be, will never cease to astonish.

Milan Kundera

The worth of a human being lies in the ability to extend oneself, to go outside oneself, to exist in and for other people.

Milan Kundera
The world of a human being Kundera Quote

The epistolary form of Les Liaisons dangereuses is not merely a technical procedure that could easily be replaced by another. The form is eloquent in itself and it tells us that, whatever the characters have undergone, they have undergone for the sake of telling about it, for transmitting, communicating, confessing, writing it. In such a world, where everything gets told, the weapon that is both most readily available and most deadly is disclosure.

Milan Kundera

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116 Most Amazing Quotes About Literature

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Anatole Broyard