Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Milan Kundera receives Franz Kafka prize


Milan Kundera, the author whose Czech citizenship was restored in December last year, will be awarded the coveted Franz Kafka prize, one of the most celebrated literary prizes of the Czech Republic. A report in CGTN quotes Vladimír Železný, Chairman of the Franz Kafka Society, saying that Kundera’s works, widely translated in different languages, have made “extraordinary contribution to Czech culture.” The report further quotes him saying that during his phone call to Kundera, the Joke author expressed gratitude in being a recipient of the honour.
Incidentally, The Unbearable Lightness of Being author was removed from Czechoslovakian party in 1950, and he fled in 1975. His association with Czech Republic has been ambiguous since then. The idea of home, longing for it and nostalgia have been recurrent themes in his works such as Ignorance. The author too has spoken about it in the interviews he gave.
Speaking to The New York Times, the author had expanded on this struggle. “In French, of course, the word ‘home’ doesn’t exist. You have to say ‘chez moi’ or ‘dans ma patrie’- which means that ‘home’ is already politicised, that ‘home’ already includes a politics, a state, a nation. Whereas the word ‘home’ is very beautiful in its exactitude. Losing it, in French, is one of those diabolical problems of translation. You have to ask: What is home? What does it mean to be ‘at home’? It’s a complicated question. I can honestly say that I feel much better here in Paris than I did in Prague, but then can I also say that I lost my home, leaving Prague? All I know is that before I left I was terrified of “losing home” and that after I left I realised – it was with a certain astonishment – that I did not feel loss, I did not feel deprived.”