To the Editors:
Your readers may be interested in the following letter:
President Valéry Giscard-d’Estaing
Palais de l’Élysée
It will soon be ten years since the Czech writer Milan Kundera, whose books are published all over the world, was dismissed from his post at Prague University, and since his books were withdrawn from all public libraries in his country and his name deleted from the history of Czech literature. Milan Kundera was no political spokesman; his guilt lay solely in that he would not, as a writer, voluntarily impose restrictions upon his creative freedom—the freedom without which literature ceases to be literature and a novel is no longer a novel.
Having learned of his situation, you, Mr. President, three years ago named Milan Kundera a professor at a French university. Discreetly, without the fanfare of publicity, almost unnoticed, but at the time when he needed it most, you held out a helping hand to a foreign writer in the midst of his artistic career. By doing so, you not only helped him as an individual, you also made an important contribution to the future of his country and to world literature. When governments around the world seem increasingly to have made writers the targets for intolerance, censorship, and barbarism, you have been guided by feelings of cultural solidarity, and a sense of responsibility to world literature and its values.
It is for this, Mr. President, that we should like to express our heartfelt thanks.
August 17, 1978