Quotes Categories

Milan Kundera Quotes

(1929), Czech Author, Critic

A wave of anger washed over me, anger against myself, at my age at the time, that stupid lyrically age, when a man is too great a riddle to himself to be interested in the riddles outside himself and when other people are mere walking mirrors in which he is amazed to find his own emotions, his own worth.

Category: Anger

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it.

Category: Animals

The word change, so dear to our Europe, has been given a new meaning: it no longer means a new stage of coherent development (as it was understood by Vico, Hegel or Marx), but a shift from one side to another, from front to back, from the back to the left, from the left to the front (as understood by designers dreaming up the fashion for the next season).

Category: Change

There is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one's own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes.

Category: Compassion

Let us consider the critic, therefore, as a discoverer of discoveries.

Category: Critics And Criticism

Without the meditative background that is criticism, works become isolated gestures, historical accidents, soon forgotten.

Category: Critics And Criticism

High culture is nothing but a child of that European perversion called history, the obsession we have with going forward, with considering the sequence of generations a relay race in which everyone surpasses his predecessor, only to be surpassed by his successor. Without this relay race called history there would be no European art and what characterizes it: a longing for originality, a longing for change. Robespierre, Napoleon, Beethoven, Stalin, Picasso, they're all runners in the relay race, they all belong to the same stadium.

Category: Culture

Eroticism is like a dance: one always leads the other.

Category: Eroticism

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.

Category: Faces

A novel that does not uncover a hitherto unknown segment of existence is immoral. Knowledge is the novel's only morality.

Category: Fiction

All great novels, all true novels, are bisexual.

Category: Fiction

People are always shouting they want to create a better future. It's not true. The future is an apathetic void of no interest to anyone. The past is full of life, eager to irritate us, provoke and insult us, tempt us to destroy or repaint it. The only reason people want to be masters of the future is to change the past.

Category: Future

True human goodness, in all its purity and freedom, can come to the fore only when its recipient has no power.

Category: Goodness

Happiness is the longing for repetition.

Category: Happiness

Nothing is more repugnant to me than brotherly feelings grounded in the common baseness people see in one another.

Category: Human Fellowship