Pozadí astronaut Brázda
Pozadí astronaut Brázda

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It's no joke

Is he coming? Estragon would ask were we in Beckett's Waiting for Godot. Is he not coming? Vladimir would hesitate. A similar atmosphere of uncertainty has radiated from the Czech media over the past two weeks.

  • Autor: Respekt
• Autor: Respekt

Is he coming? Estragon would ask were we in Beckett's Waiting for Godot. Is he not coming? Vladimir would hesitate. A similar atmosphere of uncertainty has radiated from the Czech media over the past two weeks. While Beckett's heroes are expecting the mysterious Godot, the Czech Republic has long been waiting for the arrival of a more concrete character, Milan Kundera.

For a while there was hope that the famous author really would show up in Prague to face TV cameras and pricked-up microphones, or at least to give a few newspaper interviews. The hope was prompted by a leak of the news that the author of the legendary novel The Joke would win this year's Czech national literature award. Which did in fact happen, on 25 October.

However, as in 1994 when he was awarded the Jaroslav Seifert prize, Kundera merely excused himself. He is neither the first nor the last author to reject a prestigious award. The aforementioned Samuel Beckett refused to personally accept an even more valuable literary award – the Nobel Prize. He explained that he was shy and unable to face the audience.

Kundera gives no such explanations. But in his essay „Don't Act Like You're at Home, My Friend,“ he does address the role of celebrities. He says the author and the themes that influence him are best represented by his books, so why explain everything again or parade him around?

Kundera…

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