Shifting contexts

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Milan Kundera’s 1984 essay “The Tragedy of Central Europe” attempted to redraw the Cold War boundaries of Europe, arguing that the “small nations” of Central Europe were historically western, but had been “kidnapped” into an alien eastern culture. Originally written in French as “A Kidnapped West,” the essay was adapted in its better-known translation into English, subtly adjusting the boundaries between Central, Western, and Eastern Europe. Kundera’s claim for a transnational Central European identity can be seen as a form of “cultural translation” for Western readers, helping to create a new image for the region; due to the variations between these versions, however, there is no genuine “original” text authoritative borders between east and west according to which can be drawn.


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