Thu. Dec 5th, 2019

Milan Kundera regains Czech citizenship after 40 years

Milan Kundera, the author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, to which the communist authorities of the former Czechoslovakia retired nationality in 1979, has regained Czech citizenship after 40 years.

The Czech Republic ambassador to France, Petr Drulak, informed the Czech public radio that he handed Kundera the certificate that accredits him as a citizen on November 28 at his Paris apartment. The diplomat said it was "a very important symbolic gesture" to repair the injustice that the previous communist regime committed with "the best Czech writer."

“I apologized from the Czech Republic for the attacks it had been subjected to for years. He was in a good mood, just took the document and said thank you. He is a very warm man, ”said the ambassador.

Milan Kundera in 1990.

Milan Kundera in 1990.

In 1979, Czechoslovakia withdrew his citizenship and became one of the country's most famous writers in exile

The writer, who is 90 years old, went into exile in 1975 in France, a country from which he obtained nationality in 1981 and whose language he adopted since 1994 to write. The Communist Party had expelled him from their ranks in 1950, and in 1975 he fled the then Czechoslovakia to live in France.

Despite being the most popular Czech novelist since Franz Kafka, Kundera maintained a difficult relationship with his country, even after the fall of the communist regime and the arrival of democracy, to the point of adopting French as a literary language and refusing to revise Czech translations of his works. In the past 30 years he became an almost invisible author. He never gives interviews and is barely seen in public.

During the opening process of the "Spring of Prague" he was one of the representatives of the opposition to the Czechoslovak Prosovist regime, which he paid later with his expulsion from the Communist Party and the prohibition of publishing.

During his exile he published his best-known works in Czech – in a Toronto publishing house – The book of laughter and oblivion, The Unbearable Lightness of Being and The inmortality. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a novel about a love triangle that marked several generations with their reflections on the eternal return and the meaning of life, has been their greatest commercial success, but it was only published in 2006 in the Czech Republic.

Kundera declined several times the invitation to travel to the Czech Republic, a country he has not been visiting for about 25 years, and also did not attend the delivery of the National Literature Prize in 2007, which some considered a displacement.

In 2008, the Czech Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes accused him of giving away in 1950, when he was just over 20 years old, a spy who ended up in 14 years in prison. The writer then broke his usual silence to qualify those accusations of "pure lies." The act that would prove his work as an informer did not have his signature.

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