Milan Kundera: Can betrayl of another amount to betrayl of self?

A recent Economist story has made me very sad, indeed. It did not involve the economy, but Czech author Milan Kundera (b. 4/1/29) who moved to France to escape the censorship of the Communist government. Kundera’s most popular book has been The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which deals with of identity and love and betrayal, also touches on his recurrent theme of lives clouded by totalitarianism. Ironically or logically enough, now similar charges are being brought against Kundera in his youth. Per the Economist:

“The story of Miroslav Dvoracek, a Czech spy for the West, would fit well into a Kundera novel. Caught by the secret police in 1950 while on an undercover mission to Prague, he was tortured and then served 14 years in a labour camp. He was lucky not to be executed. He has spent nearly six decades believing that a childhood friend called Iva Militka betrayed him; he had unwisely contacted her during his clandestine trip. Similarly, she has always blamed herself for talking too freely about her visitor to student friends. Now a police record found by Adam Hradilek, a historian at the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, in Prague, suggests that it was one of those friends, the young Mr Kundera, who was the informer.”

Could this the face of a backstabber?

Kundera refutes the suggestion. While I might cheer to hear muck about a politician or the latest scandal of some pop star, this news really disappoints me. I find it quite likely that Kundera did betray Dvoracek. He was already in a bit of trouble with the political machine, and yet was allowed to continue his studies. Many in that time faced and made similar choices to the one he is purported to have made. If he did betray him, one could infer that he spent most of his life writing out the guilt from it. Perhaps that’s why he is a recluse now.

Kundera writes poignant characters with a keen sensitivity to time and identity that I haven’t found in other contemporary authors. I idolize his writing. But what if he had to make this choice to write the way he does? I think his writing is wonderful and valuable, while noting it sticks to much the same subjects, like a singer whose songs all sound alike. So what if this incident provided him with limited themes, a sort of stumbling block that he can’t move past mentally?

What if this betrayal of his youth, betrayed his ability to write better and deeper novels?

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