Milan Kundera and Victoria Amelina, both distinguished East European writers with first-hand experience of Russian authoritarianism, have died within days of each other.
Milan Kundera, 1 April 1929 Brno, Czechoslovakia, started out as an enthusiastic Communist party member in his youth but was latterly expelled as he spoke up in 1970 during the clampdown that followed the 1968 Prague Spring, of which he was one of the leading voices, publicly calling for freedom of speech and equal rights for all. He was blacklisted, fired from his teaching job and eventually moved to France, losing his Czech nationality. His novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being brought him to prominence and he was nominated several times for a Nobel Prize.
Victoria Amelina, 1 January 1986, Kiev, Ukraine, was raised in the shadow of Russia, learning the language and attending a summer camp for Russian youth. Her grandparents had lived through “the great famine” of the early 1930s, in which millions of Ukrainians were starved to death under Stalin’s orders. They protected their children by raising them to speak Russian. She worked in IT, became politically active in 2013, when she joined the bloody protests after Ukraine’s President Yanukovych rejected closer ties with Europe in favour of Moscow. She wrote two novels, the second of which was shortlisted for the Unesco City of Literature Prize and the European Union Prize for Literature. After the start of the war she trained as a war crimes researcher, working with a human rights organisation called Truth Hounds, recording the atrocities witnessed by survivors. She was killed when a Russian rocket exploded in a pizza restaurant. A few days before the attack she had sent a draft of her first non-fiction project, War and Justice Diary: Looking at Women Looking at War, to a friend with a note attached: “just in case”.
What stands out in each chart is a stark Mars Pluto conjunction – describing the fear of their upbringing. Mars Pluto can give courage and unrelenting determination in the face of ruthless/brutal authority figures who hold the power of life and death.
Kundera was a Sun Aries conjunct Uranus squaring onto Mars Pluto and Saturn in Capricorn, so he had a stark and resourceful chart. He was evidently a believer in astrology, not surprisingly with such a Uranus in his chart.
He said: – “The hands on the dial of a clock turn in a circle. The zodiac, as drawn by an astrologer, also resembles a dial. A horoscope is a clock. Whether we believe in the predictions of astrology or not, a horoscope is a metaphor of life that conceals great wisdom.”
Amelina was a Sun, Venus, Neptune in Capricorn which was sextile a ferociously single-minded Mars Pluto in Scorpio. She would head for danger without a second thought.
Both had their North Node in Taurus hinting at a life long search for peace after turbulence.
Both had marked writers’ 21st Harmonic.
We in the west have no idea how easy life is compared to the experiences of those who grew up and have to cope in eastern Europe on the borders of the marauding bear.