Bohemia, Poland, Hungary, just like Austria, have never been part of Eastern Europe. From the very beginning they have taken part in the great adventure of Western civilization, with its Gothic, its Renaissance, its Reformation - a movement that has its cradle precisely in this region. It was there, in Central Europe, that modern culture found its greatest impulses: psychoanalysis, dodecaphony, Bartok's music, Kafka's and Musil's new aesthetics of the novel. The postwar annexation of Central Europe (or at least its major part) by Russian civilization caused Western culture to lose its vital centre of gravity. It is the most significant event in the history of the West in our century, and we cannot dismiss the possibility that the end of Central Europe marked the beginning of the end for Europe as a whole.
... France: for centuries it was the centre of the world and nowadays it is suffering from the lack of great historical events. This is why it revels in radical ideological postures. It is the lyrical, neurotic expectation of some great deed of its own, which is not coming, however, and will never come.
I learned the value of humour during the time of Stalinist terror. I was twenty then. I could always recognize a person who was not a Stalinist, a person hom I needn't fear, by the way he smiled. A sense of humour was a trustworthy sign of recognition. Ever since, I have been terrified by a world that is losing its sense of humour.
The stupidity of people comes from having an answer to everything.
Kundera, interviewed by Philip Roth