Mechanisms of Totalitarianism in Kundera’s “The Joke”

A R T L▼R K

41U22SycH7LOn the 1st of April 1929, the Czech Republic’s most recognized living writer, and author of the highly acclaimed novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera was born in Brno, then Czechoslovakia. His books were banned in his country by the Communist authorities until the Velvet Revolution of 1989. The author himself, once a member of the Communist Party, which he joined in his teens, was eventually expelled from it whilst a student at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague for “anti-party activities.” He was also involved in the events of the 1968 Prague Spring, crushed eventually by the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August of the same year. Despite of its fiasco, he believed for a long time in the real possibility of reforming Czech communism, which led him to carry on a printed dispute on the subject with his fellow Czech writer Vaclav Havel…

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