Czech author Milan Kundera's wife regrets emigrating from Czechoslovakia

Emigration is the worst blunder one can make in life, but a return home after the 1989 revolution was impossible for practical reasons says Vera Kunderova


Written by ČTK Published on 25.11.2019 16:55:18 (updated on 25.11.2019) Reading time: 2 minutes

Brno, Nov 25 (CTK) – Emigration is the worst blunder one can do in one’s life, but the return home after the 1989 revolution was impossible for practical reasons and due to the dissidents who came to power, Vera Kunderova, the wife of Czech author Milan Kundera, told the monthly Host (Guest) today.

Kunderova is also the literary agent of Kundera, now 90, who made his mark as a writer not only in the former Czechoslovakia (The Joke novel), but also in emigration where he wrote novels such as The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984) and Immortality (1990). He emigrated from the communist Czechoslovakia and has been living in Paris since 1975.

Kundera himself never gives interviews.

Kunderova said dissidents had hated her husband because before the revolution they were afraid that Kundera might head political opposition.

“They chose as a leader of the anti-Communist opposition (Vaclav) Havel, fearing that Milan, who was much more known abroad, could want to head the political opposition himself,” she added.

Kunderova said she had for the first time realised the impossibility of their return to the Czech Republic in 2008 when the weekly Respekt released an article saying that Kundera was an informer of the Communist authorities in the early 1950s.

At the same time, there was the longing to be at home, she added.

“I feel like a slave at a plantation who returns home in his dreams at night,” Kunderova said.

She said the article had badly hurt both her and her husband and his health condition. “No one has apologised to him!” she said.

In the article, historian Adam Hradilek brought to the light an archive document, raising the suspicion that Kundera denounced Western agent Miroslav Dvoracek.

The real informer has not yet been clearly identified. Kundera dismissed the allegation and was thinking of suing Respekt. Eleven respected writers from abroad, including four laureates of the Nobel Prize for literature, made a joint statement denouncing the case as a “smearing campaign.”

After the Velvet Revolution, there was the biggest mistake that dissidents wanted to erase the whole period of Communism, that the 1968 Prague Spring was not followed up, Kunderova said.

“From the dissidents’ point of view, this may have been logical because if they had recognised that Communism was not absolute evil, they would not have looked like perfect heroes and fighters. However, the nation was harmed,” she added.

People in the former Czechoslovakia allowed to be convinced that Communism lasted 50 years. “You started anew, but in doing so, you have interrupted the vital continuity,” Kunderova said.

Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more