Much of the debates in this book revolves around Milan Kundera and his 1984 essay “The Tragedy of Central Europe.” Kundera wrote his polemical text when the world was pregnant with imminent social and political change, yet that world was still far from realizing that we would enter the last decade of the twentieth century with the Soviet empire and its network of satellite states missing from the political map. Kundera was challenged by Joseph Brodsky and György Konrád for allegedly excluding Russia from the symbolic space of Europe, something the great author deeply believes he never did.
To what extent was Kundera right in assuming that, if to exist means to be present in the eyes of those we love, then Central Europe does not exist anymore, just as Western Europe as we knew it has stopped existing? What were the mental, cultural, and intellectual realities that lay beneath or behind his beautiful and graceful metaphors? Are we justified in rehabilitating political optimism at the beginning of the twenty-first century? Are we able to reconcile the divided memories of Eastern or Central Europe and Western Europe regarding what happened to the world in 1968? And where is Central Europe now?
Zygmunt Bauman: What Is “Central” in Central Europe?
George Schöpflin: Central Europe: Kundera, Incompleteness, and Lack of Agency
Leonidas Donskis: I Remember, Therefore I Am: Milan Kundera and the Idea of Central Europe
Stefan Auer: We Are All Central Europeans Now: A Literary Guide to the Eurozone Crisis
Mitja Žagar: Europe, Central Europe, and the Shaping of Collective European and Central European Identities
Rudi Rizman: Missing in Democratic Transition: Intellectuals
Stefano Bianchini: Central Europe and Interculturality: A New Paradigm for European Union Integration?
Ineta Dabašinskienė: European Language Ideologies: Is There a Future for Homogeneity?
Auksė Balčytienė: Mass Media, Alternative Spaces, and the Value of Imagination in Contemporary Europe
J. D. Mininger: Kundera, Nádas, and the Fiction of Central Europe
Krzysztof Czyżewski: Reinventing Central Europe
Samuel Abrahám: Central Europe: Myth, Inspiration, or Premonition?
Rein Raud: The Gloomiest of Destinies? Intellectuals and Power in East-Central Europe
About the Authors
Index of Names