Famous Writer Milan Kundera Dies at Age 94
by Xu Ying, Jimu News Reporter
Paris, France – On July 11, renowned writer Milan Kundera passed away at the age of 94, leaving behind a remarkable legacy in the literary world. Born in Czechoslovakia in 1929, Kundera later moved to France in 1975. Over the course of his writing career, he produced numerous novels, poetry collections, and literary theories. Some of his most notable works include “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” “Living Elsewhere,” and “Laughing and Forgetting.” Kundera’s literary achievements earned him international recognition and numerous accolades, including the esteemed Franz Kafka Literature Prize. Despite being a favorite among readers, Kundera never received the Nobel Prize in Literature, a fact that has drawn attention and garnered regret from fans all over the world.
In China, Milan Kundera’s most famous masterpiece, “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” has been published in two editions. The first edition, translated by renowned writer Han Shaogong and his sister Han Gang, was published by Writers Publishing House in 1987. The second edition, translated by Xu Jun, a senior professor of liberal arts at Zhejiang University and former executive vice president of the Translators Association of China, was published by Shanghai Translation Publishing House in 2003. These two translations have become buzzwords among literary enthusiasts.
In an exclusive interview with Jimu News, Xu Jun shared his experience translating Kundera’s work. Reflecting on the opportunity to translate the novel in 2002, Xu initially hesitated due to the significant influence of Han Shaogong’s 1987 translation. However, after carefully examining the English version and the existing Chinese translation, Xu discovered new possibilities for translation and accepted the task. The revised translation was completed in 2002 and published in 2003.
“The Unbearable Lightness of Being is a philosophical novel that delves into the essence of human existence,” Xu Jun explained. “The novel’s perspective on life having no rehearsals and the importance of cherishing every step resonated with me and touched many readers. Each person can interpret Kundera’s work differently, whether focusing on politics, life and love, or contemplating the various possibilities of human existence.”
Xu Jun emphasized that Milan Kundera’s works have been available in China for nearly 40 years, attracting a wide range of readers. The hundreds of thousands of comments and tributes flooding the internet following his death further highlight his significance in Chinese literary circles. Despite never winning the Nobel Prize, Kundera has earned his place among the world‘s classic writers, according to Xu Jun.
As the world mourns the loss of Milan Kundera, his literary contributions continue to inspire readers and leave an indelible mark on the literary landscape.
[Responsible editor: Yang Wei]