Randy McDonald (rfmcdpei) wrote,
Randy McDonald

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[LINK] "For Kundera, Paris is less unbearable than Prague"

The 2002 Robert Fulford article of this name, originally published in the National Post, provides an interesting sort of riposte to arguments about the necessity of maintaining primordial identities.

In historic perspective, there's nothing out of the ordinary in Milan Kundera's decision to live abroad. He's following the path of James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, and Mavis Gallant, as well as Conrad and Nabokov. But those writers didn't escape resentment, and neither can he. We all have certain expectations. Our tradition dictates that emigration is a tragedy and expatriates should be afflicted by melancholy. Mr. Kundera looks with a cool eye on the notion that nostalgia is admirable. He traces it to The Odyssey, "the great founding epic of nostalgia." Homer, he thinks, gave nostalgia a special place in the "moral hierarchy of emotions." Those who do not feel it are assumed to lack an essential element in their ethical and emotional make-up.

[. . .]

In the past, Mr. Kundera has devoted many pages to the cultural richness of the Czechs. Now, perhaps embittered by the responses to himself and his work, he sees them as mean-spirited and doggedly provincial. Eventually we understand a major point he's making: It was not just communism and Russian imperialism that [Kundera] fled after the Russian tanks arrived in Prague in 1968. It was also emotional and intellectual suffocation.

There's more at the article above. Why don't you go read it?
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