Maria Nemcová Banerjee

Professor Emerita of Comparative Literature

Smith College

Contact & Office Hours

Tilly Hall 104



Ph.D., Harvard University

M.A., Université de Montréal

Baccalauréat, Collège Marie de France, Montreal


Maria Banerjee believes she was destined to become a comparatist from the moment she first discovered that literature had the power to create multiple worlds in the mind. She was then a refugee from Prague at a convent school in the South of France and had just made the transition from her native Czech into French. That experience helped her understand that each language has a distinctive way of shaping the reality it unveils.

She teaches a variety of classes that span the course of Russian literary history. In the course of writing Terminal Paradox, her book on Milan Kundera, she lived in Paris and had the unique opportunity to talk with him in person, in depth, and on a regular basis. It was Kundera who insisted that her book should be translated from English into French, a task in which she participated by reviewing the final draft, paragraph by paragraph, with her translator, Madame Nadia Akrouf.

Banerjee’s work in Czech literature has run parallel with her Russian research. She has an abiding fascination for Dostoevsky, the preeminent philosophical novelist of the nineteenth century.

Selected Publications

Dostoevsky: The Scandal of Reason. Landisfarne Books, 2006.

Terminal Paradox: The Novels of Milan Kundera. Grove Weidenfeld, 1990.