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Top quotes by Milan Kundera on freedom, power, fear, jealousy and other things.

75 Top Quotes By Milan Kundera, The Author Of The Unbearable Lightness Of Being

Quick Facts

Famous As: Writer

Born On: April 1, 1929

Born In: Brno

Milan Kundera is a French author, novelist, essayist, playwright and short story writer, who was born in Czechoslovakia but has been living in exile in France since 1975 and is often regarded as one of the greatest authors of the modern era. Kundera’s staggering body of work is frequently cited as being worthy of a Nobel Prize in Literature and most of his books have been read by people from all across the world. His first book titled ‘The Joke’ was published in 1967 but the criticism of the Soviet Union did not go down well with the ruling class in Czechoslovakia. ‘The Book of Laughter and Forgetting’ was published after he moved to France and remains one of his notable works. However, his most famous work remains the 1984 novel ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’, which was later on turned into a film by Philip Kaufman. Other notable works include ‘Immortality; Life is Elsewhere’, ‘Identity’, ‘Slowness’, ‘Ignorance’ and ‘The Festival of Insignificance’ among others. He has also won plenty of awards including Jerusalem Prize, Herder Prize and The Austrian State Prize for European Literature among others. Kundera is one of the intellectual giants of the modern era and as such has delivered plenty of quotable quotes through his work and life. Here are the selected ones.

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Two people in love, alone, isolated from the world, that's beautiful.

Milan Kundera

You can't measure the mutual affection of two human beings by the number of words they exchange.

Milan Kundera

When the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to object.

Milan Kundera

Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring--it was peace.

Milan Kundera

Love is the longing for the half of ourselves we have lost.

Milan Kundera

But when the strong were too weak to hurt the weak, the weak had to be strong enough to leave.

Milan Kundera

For there is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one's own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes.

Milan Kundera

The Greek word for "return" is nostos. Algos means "suffering." So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.

Milan Kundera

In the sunset of dissolution, everything is illuminated by the aura of nostalgia, even the guillotine.

Milan Kundera

We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come.

Milan Kundera

A person who longs to leave the place where he lives is an unhappy person.

Milan Kundera

There is no perfection only life

Milan Kundera

She loved to walk down the street with a book under her arm. It had the same significance for her as an elegant cane for the dandy a century ago. It differentiated her from others.

Milan Kundera

A single metaphor can give birth to love.

Milan Kundera

I want you to be weak. As weak as I am.

Milan Kundera

And therein lies the whole of man's plight. Human time does not turn in a circle; it runs ahead in a straight line. That is why man cannot be happy: happiness is the longing for repetition.

Milan Kundera

The only relationship that can make both partners happy is one in which sentimentality has no place and neither partner makes any claim on the life and freedom of the other.

Milan Kundera

Loves are like empires: when the idea they are founded on crumbles, they, too, fade away.

Milan Kundera

Oh lovers! be careful in those dangerous first days! once you've brought breakfast in bed you'll have to bring it forever, unless you want to be accused of lovelessness and betrayal.

Milan Kundera

And what can life be worth if the first rehearsal for life is life itself?

Milan Kundera

There is a certain part of all of us that lives outside of time. Perhaps we become aware of our age only at exceptional moments and most of the time we are ageless.

Milan Kundera

Flirting is a promise of sexual intercourse without a guarantee.

Milan Kundera

Physical love is unthinkable without violence.

Milan Kundera

Yes, it's a well-known fact about you: you're like death, you take everything.

Milan Kundera

Chance and chance alone has a message for us. Everything that occurs out of necessity, everything expected, repeated day in and day out, is mute. Only chance can speak to us.

Milan Kundera

I was not a hypocrite, with one real face and several false ones. I had several faces because I was young and didn't know who I was or wanted to be.

Milan Kundera

Living is being happy: seeing, hearing, touching, drinking, eating, urinating, defecating, diving into the water and gazing at the sky, laughing and crying.

Milan Kundera

Why don't you ever use your strength on me?" she said. Because love means renouncing strength," said Franz softly.

Milan Kundera

To laugh is to live profoundly.

Milan Kundera

The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting

Milan Kundera

Dogs do not have many advantages over people, but one of them is extremely important: euthanasia is not forbidden by law in their case; animals have the right to a merciful death.

Milan Kundera

A man is responsible for his ignorance.

Milan Kundera

Yes, it's crazy. Love is either crazy or it's nothing at all.

Milan Kundera

Fortunately women have the miraculous ability to change the meaning of their actions after the event.

Milan Kundera

Kitsch is the inability to admit that shit exists

Milan Kundera

On the surface, an intelligible lie; underneath, the unintelligible truth.

Milan Kundera

Happiness is the longing for repetition.

Milan Kundera

The greater the ambiguity, the greater the pleasure.

Milan Kundera

The worth of a human being lies in the ability to extend oneself, to go outside oneself, to exist in and for other people.

Milan Kundera

Tomas did not realize at the time that metaphors are dangerous. Metaphors are not to be trifled with. A single metaphor can give birth to love.

Milan Kundera

Sometimes you make up your mind about something without knowing why, and your decision persists by the power of inertia. Every year it gets harder to change.

Milan Kundera

To rebel against being born a woman seemed as foolish to her as to take pride in it.

Milan Kundera

But isn't it true that an author can write only about himself?

Milan Kundera

Jealousy isn't a pleasant quality, but if it isn't overdone (and if it's combined with modesty), apart from its inconvenience there's even something touching about it.

Milan Kundera

Once the writer in every individual comes to life (and that time is not far off), we are in for an age of universal deafness and lack of understanding.

Milan Kundera

I have no mission. No one has.

Milan Kundera

The emotion of love gives all of us a misleading illusion of knowing the other.

Milan Kundera

Humanity's true moral test, its fundamental test…consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals.

Milan Kundera

Without realizing it, the individual composes his life according to the laws of beauty even in times of greatest distress.

Milan Kundera

I have a strong will to love you for eternity.

Milan Kundera

A question with no answer is a barrier that cannot be breached. In other words, it is questions with no answers that set the limits of human possibilities, describe the boundaries of human existence.

Milan Kundera

Tereza knew what happens during the moment love is born: the woman cannot resist the voice calling forth her terrified soul; the man cannot resist the woman whose soul thus responds to his voice.

Milan Kundera

Only the most naive of questions are truly serious.

Milan Kundera

In Tereza's eyes, books were the emblems of a secret brotherhood

Milan Kundera

I cannot hate them because nothing binds me to them; I have nothing in common with them.

Milan Kundera

Perhaps we become aware of our age only at exceptional moments and most of the time we are ageless.

Milan Kundera

Once her love had been publicized, it would gain weight, become a burden.

Milan Kundera

The moment someone keeps an eye on what we do, we involuntarily make allowances for that eye, and nothing we do is truthful. Having a public, keeping a public in mind, means living in lies…

Milan Kundera

Solitude: a sweet absence of looks.

Milan Kundera

Metaphors are dangerous. Love begins with a metaphor. Which is to say, love begins at the point when a woman enters her first word into our poetic memory.

Milan Kundera

The basis of shame is not some personal mistake of ours, but the ignominy, the humiliation we feel that we must be what we are without any choice in the matter, and that this humiliation is seen by everyone.

Milan Kundera

[W]e must never allow the future to collapse under the burden of memory.

Milan Kundera

The degree of slowness is directionally proportional to the intensity of memory. The degree of speed is directionally proportional to the intensity of forgetting.

Milan Kundera

Ah, ladies and gentlemen, a man lives a sad life when he cannot take anything or anyone seriously.

Milan Kundera

Love is a continual interrogation. I don’t know of a better definition of love.

Milan Kundera

Looking out over the courtyard at the dirty walls, he realized he had no idea whether it was hysteria or love.

Milan Kundera

Culture is perishing in overproduction, in an avalanche of words, in the madness of quantity.

Milan Kundera

A man who loses his privacy loses everything. And a man who gives it up of his own free will is a monster.

Milan Kundera

The longing for Paradise is man's longing not to be man.

Milan Kundera

...because love is continual interrogation. I don't know of a better definition of love.

Milan Kundera

Hate traps us by binding us too tightly to our adversary.

Milan Kundera

Because to live in a world in which no one is forgiven, where all are irredeemable, is the same as living in hell.

Milan Kundera

She is sadder and sadder, and for a man there is no balm more soothing than the sadness he has caused a woman.

Milan Kundera

She loved to walk down the street with a book under her arm. It differentiated her from the others

Milan Kundera

Yes, if you're looking for infinity, just close your eyes!

Milan Kundera