Milan Kundera, born April 1, 1929, is a renowned Czech novelist, short-story writer, playwright, essayist and poet celebrated for his fusion of erotic comedy, political critique and philosophical musings.
Initially studying music, Kundera shifted to literature and began teaching at Prague’s Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in 1952.
His writings faced scrutiny from Czech political authorities and his complex relationship with the Communist Party led to periods of expulsion and readmission.
Milan Kundera‘s internationally acclaimed novel, “The Joke,” provided an ironic view of private lives under Stalinism.
After refusing to admit political errors during the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia, Kundera’s works were banned and he was removed from his teaching positions.
In 1975, he emigrated to France, where he continued to publish seminal works such as “The Book of Laughter and Forgetting” and “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” which were banned in his homeland until 1989.
Kundera’s literary contributions continue to offer profound reflections on art, identity, memory and historical truth.
I have curated the best quotes from Milan Kundera for you in this article.
Best Milan Kundera Quotes
Speak truth to power. ~ Milan Kundera.
No act is of itself either good or bad. Only its place in the order of things makes it good or bad. ~ Milan Kundera.
Looking out over the courtyard at the dirty walls, he realized he had no idea whether it was hysteria or love. ~ Milan Kundera.
The greater the ambiguity, the greater the pleasure. ~ Milan Kundera.
Without the meditative background that is criticism, works become isolated gestures, historical accidents, soon forgotten. ~ Milan Kundera.
A constant interrogation. ~ Milan Kundera.
Man reckons with immortality, and forgets to reckon with death. ~ Milan Kundera.
Extremism means borders beyond which life ends, and a passion for extremism, in art and in politics, is a veiled longing for death. ~ Milan Kundera.
We live everything as it comes, without warning, like an actor going on cold. ~ Milan Kundera.
Seeing is limited by two borders: Strong light, which blinds, and total darkness. ~ Milan Kundera.
Ambition is a poor excuse for not having sense enough to be lazy. ~ Milan Kundera.
I have no mission. No one has. ~ Milan Kundera.
Her drama was a drama not of heaviness but of lightness. What fell to her lot was not the burden but the unbearable lightness of being. ~ Milan Kundera.
The border between good and evil is terribly fuzzy. ~ Milan Kundera.
For a novelist, a given historic situation is an anthropologic laboratory in which he explores his basic question: What is human existence? ~ Milan Kundera.
People fascinated by the idea of progress never suspect that every step forward is also a step on the way to the end. ~ Milan Kundera.
Metaphors are dangerous. Love begins with a metaphor. ~ Milan Kundera.
Modern stupidity means not ignorance but the nonthought of received ideas. ~ Milan Kundera.
All we can do in the face of that ineluctable defeat called life is to try to understand it. ~ Milan Kundera.
A man who loses his privacy loses everything. And a man who gives it up of his own free will is a monster. ~ Milan Kundera.
Inspiring Milan Kundera Quotes
He took over anger to intimidate subordinates, and in time anger took over him. ~ Milan Kundera.
The longing for Paradise is man’s longing not to be man. ~ Milan Kundera.
Before we are forgotten, we will be turned into kitsch. Kitsch is the stopover between being and oblivion. ~ Milan Kundera.
A question with no answer is a barrier that cannot be breached. In other words, it is questions with no answers that set the limits of human possibilities, describe the boundaries of human existence. ~ Milan Kundera.
A person who longs to leave the place where he lives is an unhappy person. ~ Milan Kundera.
Common European thought is the fruit of the immense toil of translators. Without translators, Europe would not exist; translators are more important than members of the European Parliament. ~ Milan Kundera.
Those who consider the Devil to be a partisan of Evil and angels to be warriors for Good accept the demagogy of the angels. Things are clearly more complicated. ~ Milan Kundera.
Love is a continual interrogation. I don’t know of a better definition of love. ~ Milan Kundera.
Unlike the puerile loyalty to a conviction, loyalty to a friend is a virtue – perhaps the only virtue, the last remaining one. ~ Milan Kundera.
A worker may be the hammer’s master, but the hammer still prevails. A tool knows exactly how it is meant to be handled, while the user of the tool can only have an approximate idea. ~ Milan Kundera.
The source of anxiety lies in the future. If you can keep the future out of mind, you can forget your worries. ~ Milan Kundera.
The serial number of a human specimen is the face, that accidental and unrepeatable combination of features. It reflects neither character nor soul, nor what we call the self. The face is only the serial number of a specimen. ~ Milan Kundera.
We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come. ~ Milan Kundera.
No love can survive muteness. ~ Milan Kundera.
The worth of a human being lies in the ability to extend oneself, to go outside oneself, to exist in and for other people. ~ Milan Kundera.
On the surface, an intelligible lie; underneath, the unintelligible truth. ~ Milan Kundera.
Yes, it’s crazy. Love is either crazy or it’s nothing at all. ~ Milan Kundera.
We pass through the present with our eyes blindfolded. We are permitted merely to sense and guess at what we are actually experiencing. Only later when the cloth is untied can we glance at the past and find out what we have experienced and what meaning it has. ~ Milan Kundera.
Top Milan Kundera Quotes
Through the air floated only important words, and Flajsman said to himself that love has but one true measure, and that is death. At the end of true love is death, and only the love that ends in death is love. ~ Milan Kundera.
I want you to be weak. As weak as I am. ~ Milan Kundera.
Yes, if you’re looking for infinity, just close your eyes! ~ Milan Kundera.
Chance and chance alone has a message for us. Everything that occurs out of necessity, everything expected, repeated day in and day out, is mute. Only chance can speak to us. ~ Milan Kundera.
The only relationship that can make both partners happy is one in which sentimentality has no place and neither partner makes any claim on the life and freedom of the other. ~ Milan Kundera.
A man is responsible for his ignorance. ~ Milan Kundera.
The history of music is mortal, but the idiocy of the guitar is eternal. ~ Milan Kundera.
The basis of shame is not some personal mistake of ours, but the ignominy, the humiliation we feel that we must be what we are without any choice in the matter, and that this humiliation is seen by everyone. ~ Milan Kundera.
The beauty of New York is unintentional; it arose independent of human design, like a stalagmite cavern. ~ Milan Kundera.
The basis of shame is not some personal mistake of ours, but that this humiliation is seen by everyone. ~ Milan Kundera.
What I need most of all is certainty. ~ Milan Kundera.
No one can give anyone else the gift of the idyll; only an animal can do so, because only animals were not expelled from Paradise. The love between dog and man is idyllic. It knows no conflicts, no hair-raising scenes; it knows no development. ~ Milan Kundera.
And therein lies the whole of man’s plight. Human time does not turn in a circle; it runs ahead in a straight line. That is why man cannot be happy: happiness is the longing for repetition. ~ Milan Kundera.
It does take great maturity to understand that the opinion we are arguing for is merely the hypothesis we favor, necessarily imperfect, probably transitory, which only very limited minds can declare to be a certainty or a truth. ~ Milan Kundera.
Noise has one advantage. It drowns out words. ~ Milan Kundera.
I am not worthy of my suffering. A great sentence. It suggests not only that suffering is the basis of the self, its sole indubitable ontological proof, but also that it is the one feeling most worthy of respect; the value of all values. ~ Milan Kundera.
At the end of true love is death, and only the love that ends in death is love. ~ Milan Kundera.
I find myself fascinating. ~ Milan Kundera.
There is no perfection only life. ~ Milan Kundera.
The worst thing is not that the world is unfree, but that people have unlearned their liberty. ~ Milan Kundera.
Only animals were not expelled from Paradise. ~ Milan Kundera.
A single metaphor can give birth to love. ~ Milan Kundera.
Business only has two functions – innovation and marketing. ~ Milan Kundera.
Famous Milan Kundera Quotes
She was experiencing the same odd happiness and odd sadness as then. The sadness meant: We are at the last station. The happiness meant: We are together. The sadness was form, the happiness content. Happiness filled the space of sadness. ~ Milan Kundera.
To laugh is to live profoundly. ~ Milan Kundera.
Our dreams prove that to imagine – to dream about things that have not happened – is among mankind’s deepest needs. ~ Milan Kundera.
He suddenly recalled from Plato’s Symposium: People were hermaphrodites until God split then in two, and now all the halves wander the world over seeking one another. Love is the longing for the half of ourselves we have lost. ~ Milan Kundera.
I feel a frantic desire to free myself. To start all over again and in another way. ~ Milan Kundera.
Dogs are our link to paradise. ~ Milan Kundera.
Two people in love, alone, isolated from the world, that’s very beautiful. But what would they nourish their intimate talk with? However contemptible the world may be, they still need it to be able to talk together. ~ Milan Kundera.
For existential mathematics, which does not exist, would probably propose this equation: the value of coincidence equals the degree of its improbability. ~ Milan Kundera.
The sound of laughter is like the vaulted dome of a temple of happiness. ~ Milan Kundera.
Let us consider the critic, therefore, as a discoverer of discoveries. ~ Milan Kundera.
In Tereza’s eyes, books were the emblems of a secret brotherhood. ~ Milan Kundera.
The difference between the university graduate and the autodidact lies not so much in the extent of knowledge as in the extent of vitality and self-confidence. ~ Milan Kundera.
Believe me, nothing is more beautiful than to carry out crazy ideas. I’d like my whole life to be one single crazy idea. ~ Milan Kundera.
We can never establish with certainty what part of our relations with others is the result of our emotions – love, antipathy, charity, or malice – and what part is predetermined by the constant power play among individuals. ~ Milan Kundera.
I think, therefore I am is the statement of an intellectual who underrates toothaches. ~ Milan Kundera.
When the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to object. ~ Milan Kundera.
All great novels, all true novels, are bisexual. ~ Milan Kundera.
The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting. ~ Milan Kundera.
I have a strong will to love you for eternity. ~ Milan Kundera.
Dogs do not have many advantages over people, but one of them is extremely important: euthanasia is not forbidden by law in their case; animals have the right to a merciful death. ~ Milan Kundera.
Popular Milan Kundera Quotes
To rebel against being born a woman seemed as foolish to her as to take pride in it. ~ Milan Kundera.
Between the approximation of the idea and the precision of reality there was a small gap of the unimaginable, and it was this hiatus that gave him no rest. ~ Milan Kundera.
There is a secret bond between slowness and memory, between speed and forgetting. ~ Milan Kundera.
Dreaming is not merely an act of communication; it is also an aesthetic activity, a game of the imagination, a game that is a value in itself. ~ Milan Kundera.
Physical love is unthinkable without violence. ~ Milan Kundera.
Any new possibility that existence acquires, even the least likely, transforms everything about existence. ~ Milan Kundera.
And what can life be worth if the first rehearsal for life is life itself? ~ Milan Kundera.
Art is the human disposition of sensible or intelligible matter for an aesthetic end. ~ Milan Kundera.
Being in a foreign country means walking a tightrope high above the ground without the net afforded a person by the country where he has his family, colleagues, and friends, and where he can easily say what he has to say in a language he has known from childhood. ~ Milan Kundera.
The degree of slowness is directionally proportional to the intensity of memory. The degree of speed is directionally proportional to the intensity of forgetting. ~ Milan Kundera.
There is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one’s own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels for someone, for someone, pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echos. ~ Milan Kundera.
There is a certain part of all of us that lives outside of time. Perhaps we become aware of our age only at exceptional moments and most of the time we are ageless. ~ Milan Kundera.
Tereza knew what happens during the moment love is born: the woman cannot resist the voice calling forth her terrified soul; the man cannot resist the woman whose soul thus responds to his voice. ~ Milan Kundera.
The stupidity of people comes from having an answer for everything. The wisdom of the novel comes from having a question for everything. ~ Milan Kundera.
Great Milan Kundera Quotes
Two people in love, alone, isolated from the world, that’s beautiful. ~ Milan Kundera.
When we ignore the body, we are more easily victimized by it. ~ Milan Kundera.
Optimism is the opium of the people. ~ Milan Kundera.
Listening to a news broadcast is like smoking a cigarette and crushing the butt in the ashtray. ~ Milan Kundera.
Metaphors are dangerous. Love begins with a metaphor. Which is to say, love begins at the point when a woman enters her first word into our poetic memory. ~ Milan Kundera.
The longing for order is at the same time a longing for death, because life is an incessant disruption of order. ~ Milan Kundera.
But when the strong were too weak to hurt the weak, the weak had to be strong enough to leave. ~ Milan Kundera.
Today I know this: when it comes time to take stock, the most painful wound is that of broken friendships; and there is nothing more foolish than to sacrifice a friendship to politics. ~ Milan Kundera.
Flirting is a promise of sexual intercourse without a guarantee. ~ Milan Kundera.
Happiness is the longing for repetition. ~ Milan Kundera.
Sad company is bad company. ~ Milan Kundera.
I am not in favor of imposing happiness on people. Everyone has a right to his bad wine, to his stupidity, and to his dirty fingernails. ~ Milan Kundera.
There are metaphysical problems, problems of human existence, that philosophy has never known how to grasp in all their concreteness and that only the novel can seize. ~ Milan Kundera.
In the world of highways, a beautiful landscape means: an island of beauty connected by a long line with other islands of beauty. ~ Milan Kundera.
The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its history. ~ Milan Kundera.
In the mind of a woman for whom no place is home the thought of an end to all flight is unbearable. ~ Milan Kundera.
Children are the future, because mankind is moving more and more towards infancy. ~ Milan Kundera.
To be mortal is the most basic human experience, and yet man has never been able to accept it, grasp it, and behave accordingly. Man doesn’t know how to be mortal. And when he dies, he doesn’t even know how to be dead. ~ Milan Kundera.
Memory does not make films, it makes photographs. ~ Milan Kundera.
In the sunset of dissolution, everything is illuminated by the aura of nostalgia, even the guillotine. ~ Milan Kundera.
Inspirational Milan Kundera Quotes
Attaching love to sex is one of the most bizarre ideas the Creator ever had. ~ Milan Kundera.
Humanity’s true moral test, its fundamental test consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. ~ Milan Kundera.
Pain doesn’t listen to reason, it has it’s own reason, which is not reasonable. ~ Milan Kundera.
Mankind’s real moral test, a test so radical and so deep that it escapes our gaze, is probably the one of its relations with those that are the most at its mercy; the Animals. ~ Milan Kundera.
Hate traps us by binding us too tightly to our adversary. ~ Milan Kundera.
Merely by being born intelligent, you right away find yourself in absolute exile. ~ Milan Kundera.
You can’t measure the mutual affection of two human beings by the number of words they exchange. ~ Milan Kundera.
So these were the 121 top Milan Kundera quotes and sayings on love, life, politics, power, dog and animals.