Latest Articles


31.08.2016
Cecilia Ferrara

Postcards from Kyiv

For five weeks, Radio Bullets will air "Postcards from Kyiv", a programme curated by Cecilia Ferrara in the framework of the Eurozine project "Beyond conflict stories: Revealing public debate in Ukraine". Cecilia travelled by bus to Ukraine in 36 hours, in search of the thousands of Ukrainian caretakers who work in Italy and take the bus home every Thursday or Saturday. [ more ]

30.08.2016
Alberto García Palomo

Recycling shows its muscles

29.08.2016
Alberto García Palomo

Slavic love by mail

26.08.2016
Judith Vidal-Hall

Moving Stories

23.08.2016
Alberto García Palomo

Jamala on tour

Eurozine Review


27.07.2016
Eurozine Review

Peak democracy?

"Razpotja" considers the spectres of dictatorship haunting Europe; "Mittelweg 36" examines past and present commitments to democracy; "Blätter" asks if the post-Brexit era spells the beginning of the end for Europe; "Multitudes" anticipates a universal basic income for all; "Krytyka" sees a historical opportunity for Ukrainian politics; "RozRazil" investigates the plurality of meanings embodied in the nation; "Letras Libres" reflects on the rise of speciesism; "Kulturos barai" senses that under conditions of austerity, extremism becomes a norm; and "Vikerkaar" confronts the shock of the Anthropocene.

13.07.2016
Eurozine Review

Critical junctures

29.06.2016
Eurozine Review

The narrowest of margins

15.06.2016
Eurozine Review

Not looking closely enough

01.06.2016
Eurozine Review

Imperfect universalism



http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2011-05-02-newsitem-en.html
http://mitpress.mit.edu/0262025248
http://www.eurozine.com/about/who-we-are/contact.html
http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2009-12-02-newsitem-en.html

My Eurozine


If you want to be kept up to date, you can subscribe to Eurozine's rss-newsfeed or our Newsletter.

Articles
Share |

A trace of metaphysics?

On the allegations against Milan Kundera

On 13 October, the Czech weekly Respekt released details of former police records appearing to prove that in 1950 Milan Kundera denounced a man suspected of spying. Since then, more details of the case have come to light that cast doubt upon Kundera's involvement. Whatever the outcome, writes Samuel Abrahám, the manner in which the allegations have been made represents a failure of journalistic decency.

However much we are inundated with bad news, it never ceases to surprise us. This time it came with the Czech weekly Respekt, which reported that in 1950 Milan Kundera informed the police on a person who was later sentenced to 22 years in prison. It came as a shock to me not because – like so many others – I admire Kundera as an author of novels and essays; I also know him personally. I have corresponded with him for several years on the subject of publishing Slovak translations of his French books. Respecting Kundera's privacy, up until now I have been discrete about our correspondence and personal contact. The events of the last days have changed my position on this.

Milan Kundera: Villain or victim?


Milan Kundera's alleged denunciation in 1950 of Miroslav Dvorácek, suspected of espionage has been widely discussed and disputed.

Petr Tresnák, Adam Hradilek
Milan Kundera's denunciation
Originally published in Czech in Respekt, 13.10.2008
Martin M. Simecka
The Owner of the Key
Originally published in Czech in Respekt, 13.10.2008
Ivan Klíma
Informing under terror
Originally published in Czech in Lidové noviny, 16.10.2008
Yasmina Reza
Milan Kundera ou l'offense du silence
"Milan Kundera or the offence of silence", in French
Published in Le Monde, 17.10.2008
Vaclav Havel
Two Messages
Published in salon.eu.sk
Originally published in Czech in Respekt, 20.10.2008
Bernard-Heni Lévy
Pour l'honneur de Milan Kundera
"In defence of Milan Kundera's honour", in French
Published in Le Point, 23.10.2008
Anja Seeliger
Milan Kundera soll reden
Published in Perlentaucher, 24.10.2008
It's time Kundera talked
Published in signandsight.com, 07.11.2008
John M. Coetzee, Nadime Gordimer, Jorge Semprun et.al
11 écrivains de réputation internationale apportent leur soutien ŕ Milan Kundera
"11 world famous writers in support of Milan Kundera", in French
Published in BiblioObs.com, 03.11.2008
Martin M. Simecka
My Father's Generation
Published in salon.eu.sk
Originally published in Czech in Respekt, 24.11.2008
Adam Michnik and Vaclav Havel
After the Velvet, an Existential Revolution?
Published in salon.eu.sk
Originally published in Polish in Gazeta Swiateczna, 15.11.2008
The way the affair has been presented to the world public is mind-boggling. The fact that Kundera himself learned about the allegations from the press is another great failure of journalistic decency. The insensitivity and arrogance of the authors of the article that provoked the scandal left me horrified. They start dramatically: "Milan Kundera has always carefully covered his tracks. He has given no interviews for the past quarter of a century. He visits his native country only incognito."[1] The most likely reason, we are asked to believe, is a dark story from the past that they have just uncovered. If they would just read Kundera's essays, they would learn why he does not give interviews, does not go to conferences, does not collect prizes, did not return to his homeland and why he is appalled by the state of the media today.

Respekt, the magazine in which the article was published, reproduced a facsimile of a police document from 1950. To assure the public that neither the story nor the document was a matter of speculation by the authors, the editor-in-chief, Martin Simecka, wrote in the editorial of the same issue of the journal: "We did not search for it, it was revealed to us for reasons that can only be of a metaphysical nature".[2] Who cares about facts, logic, motivation or what the accused has to say? The journalists do not doubt the "holy writ" of the communist police from the 1950s. Kundera can say whatever he likes, deny the accusations a thousand times, but it will not take away the stigma of guilt.

I wrote to Milan Kundera, after some hesitation, because at difficult times it may be better to leave a person to his privacy. I must admit that I was prompted more by my anger about the witch-hunt than by compassion towards Kundera, who does not need or want that.

"I am utterly shocked by the events concerning your person in the Czech media. I have generally regarded the magazine Respekt as a trustworthy journal, but the article written by Hradilek and Tresnak belongs to the worst of tabloid journalism. Everything that bothered them about you and your success is distilled in their article. They entertain no doubts about the allegations, they promptly translated the whole article into English to generate maximum impact abroad, because that is their desired audience. And the fact that the editor-in-chief, Martin M. Simecka (son of the late dissident and philosopher Milan Simecka), did not do all he could to contact you and give you time to react is his personal and professional failing."

Kundera answered immediately and wrote among other things: "I did not think it was possible to start such an international persecution on the basis of a single lie."

What is there to add? The deed is done, the newspapers have their scoop. The international media have covered the story and most have accepted the arguments of Respekt. Like with the many who have been accused of similar offences before, anything the accused now says will only increase his "guilt". The vast majority of readers will remember the first slander of Kundera and not the subsequent analysis, new findings or possible exoneration.

Just a few days after the accusation of Kundera, new information emerged that seems to be a turning point in the case. According to a testimony by Zdenek Pesat,[3] a student communist leader at the time, Miroslav Dlask came to tell him back in 1950 that he had informed the police about a person staying in his girlfriend's room whom he thought might be a spy. That person was the same that Kundera allegedly reported, thereby throwing into doubt the very matter of who the informer was.

Respekt did not question the authenticity of the police document nor submit it to independent forensic analysis. It is also significant that one of the authors of the incriminating article, Adam Hradilek, is a relative of Dlask's widow. Could the denunciation of Kundera be an attempt to absolve the guilt of the journalist's long dead relative?

Whatever the further developments, the manner of reporting this tragic case represent another substantial drop in the level of decency and professionalism in journalism. Infamy is good for sales, sure. No doubt there's a trace of metaphysics in that, too.

 



Published 2008-10-22


Original in English
First published in Eurozine

© Samuel Abrahám
© Eurozine
 

Focal points     click for more

Ukraine in European dialogue

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/ukrainedialogue.html
Post-revolutionary Ukrainian society displays a unique mix of hope, enthusiasm, social creativity, collective trauma of war, radicalism and disillusionment. Two years after the country's uprising, the focal point "Ukraine in European dialogue" takes stock. [more]

Culture and the commons

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/culturecommons.html
Across Europe, citizens are engaging in new forms of cultural cooperation while developing alternative and participatory democratic practices. The commons is where cultural and social activists meet a broader public to create new ways of living together. [more]

2016 Jean Améry Prize collection

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/jeanameryprize2016.html
To coincide with the awarding of the 2016 Jean Améry Prize for European essay writing, Eurozine publishes essays by authors nominated for the prize, including by a representative selection of Eurozine partner journals. [more]

Ukraine: Beyond conflict stories

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/ukraine_beyond_conflict4.html
Follow the critical, informed and nuanced voices that counter the dominant discourse of crisis concerning Ukraine. A media exchange project linking Ukrainian independent media with "alternative" media in Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Greece. [more]

The politics of privacy

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/privacy.html
The Snowden leaks and the ensuing NSA scandal made the whole world debate privacy and data protection. Now the discussion has entered a new phase - and it's all about policy. A focal point on the politics of privacy: claiming a European value. [more]

Beyond Fortress Europe

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/lawborder.html
The fate of migrants attempting to enter Fortress Europe has triggered a new European debate on laws, borders and human rights. A focal point featuring reportage alongside articles on policy and memory. With contributions by Fabrizio Gatti, Seyla Benhabib and Alessandro Leogrande. [more]

Russia in global dialogue

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/eurocrisis.html
In the two decades after the end of the Cold War, intellectual interaction between Russia and Europe has intensified. It has not, however, prompted a common conversation. The focal point "Russia in global dialogue" seeks to fuel debate on democracy, society and the legacy of empire. [more]

Eurozine BLOG

On the Eurozine BLOG, editors and Eurozine contributors comment on current affairs and events. What's behind the headlines in the world of European intellectual journals?
Eurozine
In memoriam: Ales Debeljak (1961-2016)

http://www.eurozine.com/blog/in-memoriam-ales-debeljak-1961-2016/
On 28 January 2016, Ales Debeljak died in a car crash in Slovenia. He will be much missed as an agile and compelling essayist, a formidable public speaker and a charming personality. [more]

Time to Talk     click for more

Time to Talk, a network of European Houses of Debate, has partnered up with Eurozine to launch an online platform. Here you can watch video highlights from all TTT events, anytime, anywhere.
Neda Deneva, Constantina Kouneva, Irina Nedeva and Yavor Siderov
Does migration intensify distrust in institutions?

http://www.eurozine.com/timetotalk/does-migration-intensify-distrust-in-institutions/
How do migration and institutional mistrust relate to one another? As a new wave of populism feeds on and promotes fears of migration, aggrandising itself through the distrust it sows, The Red House hosts a timely debate with a view to untangling the key issues. [more]

Support Eurozine     click for more

If you appreciate Eurozine's work and would like to support our contribution to the establishment of a European public sphere, see information about making a donation.

Vacancies at Eurozine     click for more

There are currently no positions available.

Editor's choice     click for more

Jürgen Habermas, Michaël Foessel
Critique and communication: Philosophy's missions

http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2015-10-16-habermas-en.html
Decades after first encountering Anglo-Saxon perspectives on democracy in occupied postwar Germany, Jürgen Habermas still stands by his commitment to a critical social theory that advances the cause of human emancipation. This follows a lifetime of philosophical dialogue. [more]

Literature     click for more

Karl Ove Knausgĺrd
Out to where storytelling does not reach

http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2014-04-03-knausgard-en.html
To write is to write one's way through the preconceived and into the world on the other side, to see the world as children can, as fantastic or terrifying, but always rich and wide-open. Karl Ove Knausgĺrd on creating literature. [more]

Jonathan Bousfield
Growing up in Kundera's Central Europe

http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2013-08-16-kuisz-en.html
Jonathan Bousfield talks to three award-winning novelists who spent their formative years in a Central Europe that Milan Kundera once described as the kidnapped West. It transpires that small nations may still be the bearers of important truths. [more]

Literary perspectives
The re-transnationalization of literary criticism

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/literaryperspectives.html
Eurozine's series of essays aims to provide an overview of diverse literary landscapes in Europe. Covered so far: Croatia, Sweden, Austria, Estonia, Ukraine, Northern Ireland, Slovenia, the Netherlands and Hungary. [more]

Debate series     click for more

Europe talks to Europe

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/europetalkstoeurope.html
Nationalism in Belgium might be different from nationalism in Ukraine, but if we want to understand the current European crisis and how to overcome it we need to take both into account. The debate series "Europe talks to Europe" is an attempt to turn European intellectual debate into a two-way street. [more]

Conferences     click for more

Eurozine emerged from an informal network dating back to 1983. Since then, European cultural magazines have met annually in European cities to exchange ideas and experiences. Around 100 journals from almost every European country are now regularly involved in these meetings.
Law and Border. House Search in Fortress Europe
The 26th European Meeting of Cultural Journals
Conversano, 3-6 October 2014

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/lawborder.html
Eurozine's 2014 conference in southern Italy, not far from Lampedusa, addressed both EU refugee and immigration policies and intellectual partnerships across the Mediterranean. Speakers included Italian investigative journalist Fabrizio Gatti and Moroccan feminist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Rita El Khayat. [more]

Multimedia     click for more

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/multimedia.html
Multimedia section including videos of past Eurozine conferences in Vilnius (2009) and Sibiu (2007). [more]


powered by publick.net