Living in Else is one of Milan Kundera’s most famous novels. As writers from Eastern Europe, Cheslaw Mivush and Kundera have almost the same experience of “living elsewhere”: the former from Poland and the latter from Czechoslovakia, who have taken refuge in Paris. They also have one thing in common, that is, they have to explain to their friends in Paris the status quo and history of their country and their relationship with the Red Soviet Union.
In 1987, the Polish writer Mivosh
The facts are often astounding. These countries and the people who live in them seem to never be masters of their own destiny and boundaries. This was the strange fate of Eastern Europe at the time – another “Europe”. Mivosh said: “There are two Europeans undoubtedly, and this happened. We, the second European residents, were destined to fall into the dark center of the 20th century.”
“Shameful to the heart of the slaughter”
Mivosh has a novel called “The Imprisoned Mind”, a name that explains the complex life of his generation.
In 1911, Mivosh was born in Vilno, Lithuania. Verno is called Polish, and Lithuanian is called Vilnius. This place used to belong to Tsarist Russia, belongs to Poland, belongs to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, belongs to the Soviet Union, and is now the capital of Lithuania.
He spent a turbulent childhood on this land, studying here and receiving college education. This is an ancient city, “history is engraved on every stone”, and Baroque architecture can be seen everywhere. Because there are dozens of synagogues and 40 Catholic churches, Verno is called “the Jerusalem of the North” by the Jews.
Mivosh said in the novel “Homeland” that he understands every stone in the city. There is a kind of tolerant anarchism in the city, a kind of humor that makes a fierce slogan, an organic sense of community, a distrust of any centralization. “A poet who grew up in such a world should be a person who seeks reality through meditation.” This laid the groundwork for his later writing and political attitudes.
Verno to Mivosh is not only beautiful. Many of his classmates and friends did not die in the Nazi concentration camp, or died in the Soviet Union’s Gulag Islands. Between 1941 and 1944, Lithuania was occupied by the Nazis and then annexed by the Soviet Union until independence in 1991. This history is mixed with conspiracy and betrayal, ruins and killings, exiles and compromises.
He therefore said in the poem: “Let the deceased explain to the deceased what happened.” Death and things happening in Poland, Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union have shaped Mivosh into a poet full of “ideology passion.” Since 1951, Mivosh has been in exile in France for 10 years before going to the United States. The French intellectuals Sartre and Beauvoir praised the Soviet Union and made Miwos indignant.
The Imprisoned Mind completes a faithful record of some being. The author selects several representative figures, who are either novelists who are always struggling on the edge of morality, or poets who are completely nihilistic, or a thorough Stalinist, or who treats everything as a vain behavior. poet. Through their different experiences and destinies, we can see how the Soviet Union transformed the country and transformed people’s minds.
For Miwash, this is the collective destiny of most countries in Eastern Europe, and this fate is a deadly contagious. The thinker of the “Velvet Revolution” and former Czech President Vaclav Havel wrote that the fate of Eastern European countries can be regarded as a notebook in Western Europe, so that the latter will see its future trends.
However, Mivosh has always been obsessed with his hometown of Verno. His exile and distant distance from his hometown made him consciously or unconsciously strengthen his sense of identity. Although he is cherished by Verno, he has not committed “nostalgic disease” and avoided the beautification of his hometown. On the one hand, Verno is the object of Mivosh’s imagination and thinking. On the one hand, he is an indispensable other in the face of the Western world.
At the same time, Poland’s historical humiliation is deep into the bone marrow. During World War II, Germans referred to Poland as the “gutter of the world.” The Germans killed the Poles as if they were dealing with inferior humans. Brodsky said: “People may call Mivosh’s education a standard Eastern European education, including the massacre known to mankind.”
Mivosh used to be in a gallery with mirrors. On page 29, wrote:
It won’t go away, even if you change the country and name.
Sadly shameful of failure. Shameful to the heart of the slaughter.
“The magical power of return”
In 1968, the “Prague Spring” initiated by Czechoslovak writers ended, and a new round of attacks against intellectuals followed. The writers have lost their original privileges and a stable life, and they have become the bottom layer, and their works cannot be published. Milan Kundera’s novel “Jokes” is listed as a banned book.
“Joke” is the first novel published by Kundera’s writing career. It tells the story of the young intellectual Ludwig who was joke with his girlfriend and was framed by his friend Zemanek and sent to the hard labor camp. After returning, he designed to seduce his wife, Helena, in retaliation for Zemanek. After the plan was successful, he discovered that Zemanek had wanted to abandon his wife and his revenge became a meaningless “joke.”
“This duo of sadness about the separation of spirit and flesh” exudes a critical spirit that is quite different from the mainstream thoughts of the country at the time. Kundera did not hold much hope, and sent “Jokes” to the publishing house. Two years later, in 1967, “Jokes” came out without warning, without any review. Even Kundera himself felt incredible.
After the publication of “Jokes”, it caused a huge response. The novel has three editions, and the total sales volume has reached several hundred thousand copies. For a long time, this novel was the top name in the bestseller list. The critics regarded its publication as a major cultural event in Czechoslovakia in the 1960s, and even evoked the consciousness of the entire nation.
In the second year, Kundera was expelled from the party, and the teachings of the film school were also lifted. His works disappeared from all bookstores and public libraries, and his name disappeared. In 1975, Kundera and his wife left the country, went to Paris, settled there and joined French nationality.
After moving to France, the novel “Laughing and Forgetting”, “Unbearable Lightness in Life”, which was inspired by the Soviet army’s invasion of Czechoslovakia, came into being. “Laughing and Forgetting” tells the fate of several different intellectuals in Czechoslovakia. “Unbearable Light in Life” has become one of the most famous literary works in the world. The novel depicts the emotional life between Thomas and Teresa and Salina, but it is by no means a vulgar love story of a man and two women. It is a philosophical novel. The novel begins with the discussion of “eternal reincarnation” and brings readers into a series of “psychological realism” thinking.
In the 1980s, Kundera
The novel that best reflects his reflection on his hometown is “Ignorance.” Kundera, like the two exiles in the novel, Irena and Joseph, left the hometown of the Czechoslovak Republic and, like Irena, he also moved to France and lived for more than 30 years. Kundera deeply ponders the relationship between man and his hometown in “Ignorance”: this is a deep connection that human beings have and sometimes they are not aware of; this connection is usually related to the desire of human beings to distinguish themselves from history. related.
In “Ignorance,” Kundera wrote a letter full of emotions. Irena grew up in Prague, and her friend Hilly suggested that she return to her hometown. Although Irene does not want to leave France’s new family and new life, she still can’t help but return to Prague:
She no longer resists, because at this time, she has been fascinated by the images that suddenly flashed in front of her eyes. These images are from old books, movies, memories, and memories of my ancestors: the images are a wanderer who reunited with his mother; a man who was separated by a cruel fate and returned to the beloved; he was the home of all who stood in his heart; it was a country road that was printed with childhood footprints and now opened again; how many years After retreating, I saw Odysseus on the island again. The magical power of return, return, and return.
Kundera mentioned Mivosh in the essay collection “Meeting”, which won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1980.
When the French writer Ji De made a poem, he did not include the works of Miwosh. Gide believes that from the “texture” of poetry, Mivosh’s poetry is not worth mentioning. This attitude made Kundera unhappy. He said ironically that the poem of Mivosh did not belong to France because he retained the roots of Polish.
“Escape into French, just like hiding in a secluded monastery. Let us regard Gide’s refusal as a noble practice, in order to protect the loneliness of a stranger: an eternal alien.” When a stranger is a stranger, Kundera must have thought of himself when he wrote this sentence.
“When Kundera gained the highest world reputation, the culture of Czechoslovakia was struggling with the totalitarian system. Domestic intellectuals and exiled intellectuals fought in this struggle. They experienced various The hardships: they lost their freedom, their own position, their own time, their own comfortable life.” “And Kundera is far away in Paris, living a comfortable and prosperous life, with French philosophers and writers Talking about the art of the novel, the art of painting, structuralism, surrealism…”
This is the reference in a very inconspicuous essay “The Emancipation of Emancipation, Vera Linhatova’s Saying” in “Meeting”. Vera Linhatova is also a Czech writer. She left her hometown after 1968 and went to Paris, stepping onto the road of exile in advance. This essay, in anti-Kundera’s style, only excerpts Lin Hatowa’s report at an exile theme seminar, with a little comment.
To some extent, Kundera wants to respond to people’s criticism of him by commenting on Linhatowa’s words and seeking a legitimacy for his exile: “According to Vera Linhatowa’s It is said that exile can often turn exile into the beginning of a liberation, ‘going to the other side, going to the other side who is unfamiliar with the definition, and going to the other side that is open to all possibilities. Indeed, she makes a very reasonable point!”
Kundera has always written in French, which is also the place for critics. Mivosh, who is in exile in the United States, has always claimed that he cannot write in a language other than Polish: “Speaking Polish means to some extent talking to the deceased. My attachment to Polish is only for survivors. “Sin is not just a language, it is a connection and memory with the past. Once we give up this language, we are likely to become a rootless person.”
For this statement, Kundera has self-defense. “So writers can choose where they want to live, or they can choose the language of speaking, because ‘the writer is not a prisoner of a single language.” Kundera also constantly mentioned Goethe’s concept of “world literature”: “All European nations have experienced Through the same and common destiny, but each nation starts from its own special circumstances and experiences in different ways. They influence each other and form European literature.”
The film “Pianist” stills, the main character of the play is the Polish Jewish pianist Pielman
In addition to his own soul, Kundera also quoted Mivosh’s poetry and made a real love for his hometown. In the “Other Sides” chapter of “Meeting”, he analyzes Mivosh’s “grammatical future-style nostalgia”, which is the heartbreaking sorrow brought by the “when the sorrowful memories that have disappeared into an unfulfilled promise”:
You will wear lavender clothes, beautiful mourning!
Your hat will be inserted with a sad flower.
Kundera wants to explain that he understands that Mivosh has tied his homesickness to the “future” cross. They are both creators in the West and will always bear the nostalgia for “another Europe.” The superposition of “future” has painted a reflection on the homesickness, transforming the painful past that cannot be changed into a future that can never be reached.