The Czech-born French writer Milan Kundera is to receive the Cino Del Duca World Prize for literature on Wednesday. The prize, which has been awarded annually since 1969 and includes a monetary award of 300,000 EUR, recognises scientific or literary authors whose work offers a message of modern humanism. Mr Kundera was born in the Czech town of Brno and emigrated to France in 1974, where he gained citizenship some years later. He will be the second Czech to receive the Cino Del Duca, the first being former Czech president Václav Havel in 1997.
The renowned Czech writer Milan Kundera is set to bring out a new collection of essays next week. In Une rencontre the author, best known for titles such as The Unbearable Lightness of Being, turns his attention to greats of world culture such as Francis Bacon, Dostoevsky and Rabelais. Kundera has been publishing in French since 1990, a decade and a half after he moved to Paris from Czechoslovakia. He turns 80 on April 1.
Eleven of world’s best known authors, including four Nobel Prize winners, have come to the defence of the Czech-born writer Milan Kundera, accused of being a communist police informer, the news agency AFP reported on Monday. A statement, signed by Salman Rushdie, Phillip Roth and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, among others, said that “a defamation campaign was under way aimed at tarnishing the reputation of Milan Kundera”. Last month, a Czech historical institute published a police report from 1950, suggesting Mr Kundera informed Czechoslovakia’s communist police on a Western agent who spent 14 years in prison as a result. Milan Kundera, who left Czechoslovakia in 1975 and has since lived in France, vehemently rejected the accusation. The statement in Mr Kundera’s support was also signed by Orhan Pamuk, John Maxwell Cootzee and Nadine Gordimer.
The Czech weekly Respekt has said it will not apologise for a recent article alleging that Czech born-writer Milan Kundera informed on a man spying for the West in Communist Czechoslovakia. A statement was released on Friday by the weekly’s editor-in-chief. The story, published in mid-October, centred on a Czech historian’s uncovering of a police document dating back to 1950. In the case, the man Mr Kundera allegedly informed on spent 14 years in prison. The author of such novels as The Unbearable Lightness of Being has denied the allegation and has threatened to sue. A number of observers have come out against the article. The Czech Academy of Sciences, for example, criticised the manner of the story’s publication, suggesting that the methods used showed what it called “a lack of critical scientific thinking”.
Writer Milan Kundera has demanded an apology from the Czech weekly Respekt for publishing an article he claims is defamatory. Last week Respekt published an article accusing the best-selling author of denouncing a suspected western agent to the communist police in the early 1950s. Kundera, who now lives in France, has categorically denied the allegations. He says he is ready to sue the weekly for libel in case its owners fail to apologize.
The Czech Republic is still abuzz with allegations that Czech-born writer Milan Kundera informed on a suspected spy in 1950, and on Monday an unlikely ally came to Mr Kundera’s defence: former president Václav Havel. The two men famously clashed over the role played by dissidents in communist Czechoslovakia – Mr Havel accused the émigré writer of being cynical - but Mr Havel has now defended Mr Kundera and criticised his detractors.
Former President Václav Havel has urged historians to tread with more caution when ‘judging history’ in light of the recent scandal surrounding author Milan Kundera. Writing in this week’s edition of Respekt, the former Czech president said that historians acting in good faith could do ‘more harm than good’ if they weren’t careful. Last week, Adam Hradilek published an article accusing Milan Kundera of denouncing a suspected western agent to the communist secret police, Mr Kundera subsequently denied the claims and a new witness then came forward in support of the world-famous novelist.
Writer Milan Kundera has issued a statement, saying he was not given the chance to react to allegations he informed on someone nearly six decades ago, before the story was published by the Czech magazine Respekt. On Monday Respekt quoted a 1950 police record which says Mr Kundera reported the presence in Prague of a Czech-born foreign agent, leading to the man being sentenced to a long term in the uranium mines. For its part, the magazine says the world renowned author declined the opportunity to give his side of the story. Milan Kundera, who now lives in France, has described the allegations as lies. Meanwhile, literary historian Zdeněk Pešat has issued a statement saying Miroslav Dlask, a friend of the writer’s in his student days, admitted before his death that it was he who informed on the agent.
Allegations that the Czech writer Milan Kundera informed on a suspected western agent in 1950 have dominated the news all this week, and on Wednesday there was a new twist: an 81-year-old literary translator named Zdeňek Pešat came forward to say it was not Milan Kundera who had gone to the police, but their mutual friend Miroslav Dlask. Earlier this week Milan Kundera broke a 25-year vow of silence to categorically reject the “informer” claims.