Influenced by the literature of Miguel de Cervantes and the philosophy of Nietzsche, Milan Kundera became the most important Czech writer of his generation with a body of essays, poems and novels that probed some of life's deepest questions. Born in Brno in 1929, Kundera studied Film Direction and Scriptwriting at Prague's Academy of Performing Arts before taking a post there as a World Literature lecturer. Kundera also wrote several acclaimed essays, poetry collections and one-act plays during his early career but it was as a novelist that he achieved his most notable success. Inspired by his first expulsion from the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, 1967's <i>The Joke</i> saw Kundera emerge as a leader of the reform movement which sparked the 1968 Prague Spring, a position which ultimately led to a 20-year blacklist in his homeland and his subsequent exile to France. Undeterred, Kundera continued to address political themes in the likes of 1973's <i>Life Is Elsewhere</i> and 1978's <i>The Book of Laughter and Forgetting</i> but gradually began to adopt a more philosophical approach. Later turned into a film by Philip Kaufman, 1984's career-defining <i>The Unbearable Lightness of Being</i> found Kundera delving into various existential problems, 1990's <i>Immortality</i> explored the nature of artistic creation, while 1995's first French-language work <i>Slowness</i> was a meditation on modernity, memory and sensuality. Following 1998's unusually conventional <i>Identity</i>, and 2000's Odyssean tale <i>Ignorance</i>, Kundera took a lengthy break from the novel form before returning in 2014 with the wryly comic <i>The Festival of Insignificance</i>.