Tuesday, January 2, 2024



Who is a vandal? It is absolutely not the illiterate peasant who in a fit of fury sets fire to the rich landowner's mansion. The vandals I myself run into are all of them educated, pleased with themselves, socially well situated, and not especially resentful toward anyone. The vandal, rather, is that prideful narrow mind, pleased with itself and ever ready to claim its rights. That proud narrow-minded fellow believes that the power to fit the world to his own image is among his inalienable rights and, since the world is largely made up of matters beyond his capacities, he adapts the world to his image by destroying it. Thus, an adolescent knocks the head off some statue in a park because the statue infuriatingly seems a better human than he; and since any act of self-affirmation brings man satisfaction, he does it with delight. Men who live only their only contextless present, who know nothing of the historical continuity around it and who lack culture, can transform their nation into a desert with no history, no memory, no echoes, and untouched by beauty.



"Address to the Czech Writers' Congress:

The Literature of Small Nations"

( 1967 )

translated from the French by Linda Asher


Milan Kundera 

A Kidnapped West

The Tragedy of Central Europe

Harper, 2023