First Advisor

Annabelle Dolidon

Date of Publication

Spring 6-13-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in French






Milan Kundera -- Criticism and interpretation, Exile (Punishment) in literature, Memory in literature, French literature -- 20th century -- Foreign authors, Czech authors, Exiled authors



Physical Description

1 online resource (iv, 61 pages)


During the twentieth century, the former Czechoslovakia was at the forefront of Communist takeover and control. Soviet influence regulated all aspects of life in the country. As a result, many well-known political figures, writers, and artists were forced to flee the country in order to evade imprisonment or death. One of the more notable examples is the writer Milan Kundera, who fled to France in 1975. Once in France, the notion of exile became a prominent theme in his writing as he sought to expose the political situation of his country to the western world--one of the main reasons why he chose to publish his work in French rather than in Czech. This thesis analyzes the themes of language and memory in connection with exile in two of Kundera's novels, Le livre du rire et de l'oubli (1978) and L'Ignorance (2000). We contend that these concepts serve as anchors and tethers, stabilizing forces meant to help exiled characters recreate their identity outside of their homeland. By exploring notions of language and memory in these novels, Kundera demonstrates how the experience of exile affects the human condition during the latter half of the twentieth century.


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