Brno, July 30 (CTK) – Czech writer Milan Kundera, 91, living in Paris, will donate the collection of various editions of his books and his archive of articles and other documents to the Moravian Library in Brno, library worker Radoslav Pospichal told CTK Thursday.
The collection will be transported from the Paris flat of Kundera and his wife Vera this autumn.
The Moravian Library (MZK) plans to enable the access to the books for scholars and researchers as well as other people interested in the works of Kundera, a native of Brno, Pospichal added.
Kundera’s library, which he was completing for years, includes all of his literary works published in Czech and more than 40 other languages. It is to be further extended in Brno by other Czech and foreign editions of his books on the basis of an agreement with the copyright holders.
The donation also includes the archive of articles written by Kundera or about him, reviews of his books collected by his publishers in the Czech Republic and abroad, authorized photographs, and Kundera’s drawings. The archive material will be accessible to the public primarily in digital form.
Culture Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD) welcomed the decision by Kundera and his wife. Zaoralek called the gift “a special cultural event.” It shows that Kundera “has and had the closest relation to this country,” the minister added.
In connection with his donation, Kundera said that “books belong to a library,” the MZK wrote in its press release.
The MZK has long cooperated with the Kunderas. Last year, it prepared an exhibition about the writer and published a book on translations of his works, including a bibliography.
“Milan Kundera’s gift to the library is not only a message to Czech readers, but also a commentary on his relation to Brno, his native town,” MZK director Tomas Kubicek said.
After listing and registering Kundera’s collection, the MZK plans to place it in an independent study room to be named The Library of Milan Kundera where readings, debates with writers, and discussions about literature and culture can be held.
The MZK press release also includes statements by Vera Kunderova, saying the donation is not “an isolated event.”
This autumn, Kundera’s latest novel The Festival of Insignificance (La fete de l’insignifiance, 2014) will be published in Czech translation. In addition, Kundera, together with translator Anna Kareninova, is preparing a Czech edition of his novel Ignorance (L’Ignorance, 2000), Kunderova said.
The National Theatre in Brno is will premiere a new staging of Kundera’s 1962 play The Owners of the Keys (Majitele klicu) on October 23.
A new literary biography entitled Kundera: The Czech Life and Times written by Jan Novak drew attention in the Czech Republic of late and provoked controversial reactions, as its author is quite critical of the famous exile writer.
Born in Brno in 1929, Kundera has been living in France since 1975. He made his mark as a writer not only in the former Czechoslovakia with his novel The Joke (Zert, 1967), but also in exile where he wrote such novels as The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Nesnesitelna lehkost byti, 1984) and Immortality (Nesmrtelnost, 1990). His works were banned by the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia.
After he published the novel The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (Kniha smichu a zapomneni, 1978), where the Communist leader Gustav Husak was called the “president of forgetting” he was stripped of Czechoslovak citizenship. He was granted French citizenship two years later.
Last year, Kundera was also given Czech citizenship. Czech literary circles consider this step a signal that translations of Kundera’s latest works might appear in Czech. Kundera wrote his novels in French in recent decades.