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Richard Swartz: Eroticism was the last free space in communist Prague

Not unexpectedly, it is Milan Kundera, the other day, 90 years of age, who described himself best: a hedonist, caught in the trap baited by an extremely politicized world.

Prague is a small town and the stories of his erotic escapades were at that time countless. And he was successful, an athletic charmer with a boxer's brutal beauty; in addition, he played the piano. Kundera and a few years younger, Vaclav Havel, could never tolerate each other, either private or political, and in Prague skvallrades if it had to do with the fact that they too often competed for the same women. Thus, the alpha male against what last season was called the new sensitive man (where did he by the way?).

which of them was the most successful sounds well no longer be investigated. It does now not so much; nothing is, of course, the woman nattståndet as erotic archaeology.

eroticism lives on as the main theme in Kundera's writing, where it continually varies in different keys, mostly in the mollstämda or at least melancholic. In the extremely politicized society becomes eroticism was the last free space, and Prague was such a society until the fall of communism. Just in famntaget could freedom survive, a last refuge or exile, away from the realsocialistiska reality with all its political and ideological coercion.

But not even closely entwined may the lovers be at peace; relentlessly – Kundera is an author who with almost sadistic consistency destroys the illusions and hope – he shows us how the most private being poisoned in such a society, how politics and ideology becomes involuntarily joined to the pair where in bed, in the worst case takes shape as informer or spy with a far more police than pleasurable threesome as a result.

privacy has the art been poisoned. Also of Kundera's personal experience, but in the politicised world's side when he was in his youth appeared as a poet and a stalinist, cantors. A very short period of time, admittedly, before he finally broke with the Party and communism, but an experience that has not left him any peace, and that both self-critically and sarcastically dissekerats in perhaps his best novel (with the congenial title, ”Life is elsewhere”).

A talentless artist kopulerar here publicly with poetry: an art form with its lyrical sensibility, and his excited tone of voice according to Kundera would be made for political abuse. The poet would envy the politician (or the boxer) the Act itself, therefore often be to his minions. A ”useful idiot” or something even worse. And Kundera gives us examples: the great poets like Mayakovsky, Lermontov, Keats, or Rimbaud.

saves Kundera himself by replacing poetry with the novel. It is an either – or. The art of the novel stiliseras to the ideological and political antithesis, to the very incarnation of independence and freedom. Only a novel would encourage to explore our existence and its purpose is neither confession or introspection: it is about a survey, if a fine-grained warp to draw through the unknown, and whose results have not with truth but with probabilities, with insight and not morality, to make. In its essence, this survey is also ironic and playful; no man would be so immune to the ideology and politicisation that have just homo ludens (and erotic, of course, the sweetest of the games).

Kundera is a writer with almost sadistic consistency destroys the illusions and hope.

Such programmatic beliefs would after the invasion in August 1968, very soon make it impossible for Kundera to publish in Czechoslovakia. The prague spring had been the fall, now it was färdiglekt. 1975 can he travel to France. Politics had given him yrkesförbud and made his existence impossible in their own country. He would never come back. But his exile, he turns to the new country, change the language and insist on being counted as a French writer.

to see this as the ultimate consequences of an extremely politicized world, but Kundera refuses to call her now French novels of the policy. The fact is that his themes come to be about exile and identity, all off of Eros, and the dangers, that his novels increasingly come to resemble philosophical essays.

Still, I believe that it is the so to speak Czech part of his writings which will be included in our european cannon, which, at the side of his countryman Bohumil Hrabals works will remain as the most important witness of a time when the communist dictatorship captured the entire nations of Central europe into its trap. At least in the sense he should be able to count on the Czech literature, even if many czechs feel provoked by the fact that he refused to return home to Prague.

rather of a misunderstanding and most likely it is Kundera prosaic sobriety that prevents him. For today's Prague is no longer his; a return would not be able to bring the youth to the life that is past and gone once and for all, instead exposing him to the risk of falling into the kitsch sentimentality, which belong so intimately together with the extreme politiseringens trap.

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