Review: Rediscovering Milan Kundera’s European tragedy

The Czech writer’s 40-year-old essay on the roots of Russia’s empire-building, ‘A Kidnapped West’, reads all too presciently, writes Stefan Auer.

The World Today
3 minute READ

A Kidnapped West: The Tragedy of Central Europe
Milan Kundera, Faber, £10

‘In November 1956, the director of the Hungarian News Agency, shortly before his office was flattened by artillery fire, sent a telex to the entire world with a desperate message announcing that the Russian attack against Budapest had begun. The dispatch ended with these words: “We are going to die for Hungary and for Europe.”’ Thus, Milan Kundera began his 1983 essay for the French journal Le Débat, reflecting on the 1956 Hungarian Uprising.

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