Milan Kundera is a modern French prose writer of Czech origin, who has lived in France since 1975. He writes in both Czech and French. His books instantly become bestsellers and are translated into all languages of the world.
Currently, Kundera lives in Paris and considers France his only homeland. Since the 1980s, he categorically refuses to communicate with the media and leads a closed lifestyle.
“What is an individual?
Wherein does his identity reside? All novels seek to answer these questions. By what, exactly, is the self defined? By what a character does, by his actions? Yet action gets away’ from its author, almost always turns on him. By his mental life, then? By his thoughts, by his hidden feelings? But is a man capable of self-understanding? Can his secret thoughts be a key to his identity? Or, rather, is man defined by his vision of the world, by his ideas, by his Weltanschauung?
This is Dostoyevsky’s aesthetic: his characters are rooted in a very distinctive personal ideology, according to which they act with unbending logic. For Tolstoy, on the other hand, personal ideology is far from a stable basis for personal identity: “Stepan Arkadievich chose neither his attitudes nor his opinions, no, the attitudes and opinions came to him on their own, just as he chose neither the style of his hats nor of his coats but got what people were wearing” (Anna Karenina).
But if personal thought is not the basis of an individuals identity (if it has no more importance than a hat), then where do we find that basis? To this unending investigation, Thomas Mann brought his very important contribution: we think we act, we think we think, but it is another or others who think and act in us: that is to say, timeless habits, archetypes, which—having become myths passed on from one generation to the next—carry’ an enormous seductive power and control us (say’s Mann) from “the well of the past.”
Thomas Mann: “Is man’s ‘self narrowly limited and sealed tight widrin his fleshly ephemeral boundaries? Don’t many of his constituent elements come from the universe outside and previous to him? . . . The distinction between mind in general and individual mind did not preoccupy people in the past nearly so powerfully as it does us today. …” And again: “We may be seeing a phenomenon which we would be tempted to describe as imitation or continuation, a notion of life in which each persons role is to revive certain given forms, certain mythical schema established by forebears, and to allow drem reincarnation.”.…
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Free download book Testaments Betrayed : An Essay in Nine Parts by Milan Kundera