My first exposure to Milan Kundera came with the reading of The Unbearable Lightness of Being. There was no going back after that, I read everything Kundera published that I could get my hands on. His books became my friends, his characters family and in some instances, heroes. I even began to study the Czech language and developed a love for Prague. Visiting Prague became a growing desire that morphed into an obsession, all because of one man, one writer, who captured my imagination.


By any contemporary standards I should be outraged at the recent accusation levelled at Kundera that he was the source who, in 1950, identified a young pilot as a western agent.

Whether he did identify this young pilot or whether he didn’t,I’m not outraged. I feel compassion both for the young pilot who was outed and imprisoned, and for Milan Kundera, the man and the writer. In our society, we are becoming increasingly accustomed to politicians demonstrating extreme human frailty and moral ambiguity, and we forgive them their transgressions on a case by case basis. Why would we hold writers, any writers, to a higher standard?


And those of us born after the end of the Second World War who have understandable and acceptable difficulty in imagining the times that were, need to make allowances for those who lived through it. So while neither excusing nor condoning any actions that might have been taken by Kundera in the heat of the times, last time I checked, the writer was human, and as someone once said “to err is human, to forgive divine”.





Categories: politics

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