Quotations From MILAN KUNDERA
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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 (b. 1929), Czechoslovakian author, critic. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, pt. 1, ch. 15 (1984).
Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it.Milan Kundera (b. 1929), Czechoslovakian author, critic. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, pt. 7, ch. 2 (1984).
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We can never establish with certainty what part of our relations with others is the result of our emotionslove, antipathy, charity, or maliceand what part is predetermined by the constant power play among individuals.Milan Kundera (b. 1929), Czech author, critic. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, pt. 7, ch. 2 (1984).
If we cannot accept the importance of the world, which considers itself important, if in the midst of that world our laughter finds no echo, we have but one choice: to take the world as a whole and make it the object of our game; to turn it into a toy.Milan Kundera (b. 1929), Czech author, critic. Immortality, pt. 7, ch. 5 (1991).
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 (b. 1929), Czech author, critic. Immortality, pt. 5, ch. 12 (1991).
I think, therefore I am is the statement of an intellectual who underrates toothaches.Milan Kundera (b. 1929), Czechosolvakian author, critic. Immortality, pt. 4, ch. 11 (1991).
We don't know when our name came into being or how some distant ancestor acquired it. We don't understand our name at all, we don't know its history and yet we bear it with exalted fidelity, we merge with it, we like it, we are ridiculously proud of it as if we had thought it up ourselves in a moment of brilliant inspiration.Milan Kundera (b. 1929), Czech author, critic. Agnes, in Immortality, pt. 1, ch. 7 (1991).
The serial number of a human specimen is the face, that accidental and unrepeatable combination of features. It reflects neither character nor soul, nor what we call the self. The face is only the serial number of a specimen.Milan Kundera (b. 1929), Czech author, critic. Immortality, pt. 1, ch. 3 (1991).
The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.Milan Kundera (b. 1929), Czech author, critic. Mirek, in The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, pt. 1, ch. 2 (1978, trans. 1980).
No great movement designed to change the world can bear to be laughed at or belittled. Mockery is a rust that corrodes all it touches.Milan Kundera (b. 1929), Czech author, critic. Kostka, in The Joke, ch. 18, pt. 6 (1967, trans. 1982).
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