Catherine Rey Seminar 2012

'Milan Kundera: At home in exile or in search of the idyllic language'

Abstract: Milan Kundera, the Czech novelist born in Brno in 1929, and currently living in Paris, has never explained why he has abandoned his native Czech to write in French. The decision might have been taken between 1990 and 1995, many years after he settled in France with his wife in 1978. This is the first of many mysteries of one of the greatest novelists of the 20th century, mentioned several times for the Nobel Prize, who has in his fictions as well as in his essays offered a shrewd vision of modern literature. In order to understand why Kundera has adopted the French language that he considered as the idyllic idiom, I will include historical parameters without which Kundera's work cannot be fully deciphered. In choosing French over any other European language, did Kundera regain control over his translators to reclaim his mental universe? By embracing a modern vision of the novel without being tied to a school, a country or a literary trend, did the author wish to link up again to an old European tradition re-enacted in a new novelistic form?

Bio: Catherine Rey is a French-Australian author whose novels include L'ami intime, Les jours heureux, Eloge de l'oubli, Lucy comme les chiens, and Ce que racontait Jones, which was shortlisted for the Prix Femina and the Prix Renaudot, and published in Australia as The Spruiker's Tale in 2005. Her novel Une femme en marche was published in Australia as Stepping Out in 2008 and her most recent novel is Les Extraordinaires aventures de John Lofty Oakes (2010). Catherine Rey is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Writing & Society Research Centre, UWS.

Audio: Listen to Catherine's paper (right click and "save link as" to download). ‪

^ Back To Top