Lost In Translation
Why samizdat is still the only way for Czechs to read Kundera, the country's most famous writer
The 77-year-old, who wrote his last three novels in French, insists on translating them into Czech himself and he's in no hurry. So when one impatient anonymous literary toiler posted an illegal translation of Kundera's second-to-last novel, Identity, to the Blogger.com site in June, "he was upset," says his friend and Czech agent, Jirí Srstka. Srstka's agency wants Google which owns Blogger.com to pull the bootlegged version.
Perhaps benign neglect would preserve the writer's reputation just as well. Petr Sšruta, a teacher who recalls wonderful youthful encounters with banned Kundera novels, quit reading five pages into the pirated Identity. "It's simply not Kundera," he says.
©TIME. Printed on Monday, January 8, 2007