Jan Procházka (1929-1971) was a Czech film scenarist and prose writer, and author of Long Live the Republic. He was one of the radical socialist members of the Czechoslovak Writers’ Union, along with Kundera, Ludvík Vaculik (see Bookmark for “the Two Thousand Words, page 211), and Ivan Klíma. At a Communist Party summit in Dresden, East Germany, in March 1968, Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev (see Bookmark, page 199) gave a speech that openly accused Prochazka of leading a counter-revolutionary conspiracy.

As Tomas says, Prochazka was “one of the best-loved figures of the Prague Spring” (Bookmarks, pages 25 and 26). The celebrated Czech playwright Václav Havel, who would be elected president of the Czech Republic in 1989, after the Velvet Revolution that overthrew Communist rule, mentions Prochazka’s activities around the time of the Prague Spring several times in his book-length interview-memoir Disturbing the Peace.

As Kundera relates via the narrator of Unbearable Lightness, the Communist regime tried to humiliate Prochazka by broadcasting private conversations picked up by bugs in the flat of a professor friend of his, two years before. The narrator finishes the story later (section 19 of Part Five, pages 228-229), by noting that two weeks after the broadcasts, Prochazka entered the hospital with terminal cancer, and even “was operated on in the presence of the police.”