The Franz Kafka Prize

2010 - Václav Havel

Born: 5 October 1936, Czechoslovakia

Died: 18 December 2011

Author's quote: "Work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed."

Field: Playwright

Prize share: 1/1


Books Written By Václav Havel




Václav Havel; 5 October 1936 – 18 December 2011 was a Czech writer, philosopher, dissident, and statesman. From 1989 to 1993, he served as the first democratically elected president of Czechoslovakia in 41 years. He then served as the first president of the Czech Republic (1993–2003) after the Czech-Slovak split. Within Czech literature, he is known for his plays, essays, and memoirs.

His educational opportunities limited by his bourgeois background, Havel first rose to prominence within the Prague theater world as a playwright. Havel used the absurdist style in works such as The Garden Party and The Memorandum to critique communism. After participating in Prague Spring and being blacklisted after the invasion of Czechoslovakia, he became more politically active and helped found several dissident initiatives such as Charter 77 and the Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Prosecuted. His political activities brought him under the surveillance of the secret police and he spent multiple stints in prison, the longest being nearly four years, between 1979 and 1983.

Havel's Civic Forum party played a major role in the Velvet Revolution that toppled communism in Czechoslovakia in 1989. He assumed the presidency shortly thereafter, and was reelected in a landslide the following year and after Slovak independence in 1993. Havel was instrumental in dismantling the Warsaw Pact and expanding NATO membership eastward. Many of his stances and policies, such as his opposition to Slovak independence, condemnation of the Czechoslovak treatment of Sudeten Germans after World War II, and granting of general amnesty to all those imprisoned under communism, were very controversial domestically. As such, he continually enjoyed greater popularity abroad than at home. Havel continued his life as a public intellectual after his presidency, launching several initiatives including the Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism, the VIZE 97 Foundation, and the Forum 2000 annual conference.

Havel's political philosophy was one of anti-consumerism, humanitarianism, environmentalism, civil activism, and direct democracy.[4] He supported the Czech Green Party from 2004 until his death. He received numerous accolades during his lifetime including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Gandhi Peace Prize, the Philadelphia Liberty Medal, the Order of Canada, the Four Freedoms Award, the Ambassador of Conscience Award and the Hanno R. Ellenbogen Citizenship Award. The 2012–2013 academic year at the College of Europe was named in his honour.[5] He is considered by some to be one of the most important intellectuals of the 20th century.


Reviews

Open Letters: Selected Writings, 1965-1990 - Václav Havel

By A Customer

Vaclav Havel has been called "the greatest moral thinker of our time" and "a sort of EuroGhandi." While most noted as a playwright, Havel's most important works have been of prose; essays such as "Power of the Powerless" and his "Open Letter to Gustav Husak" allowed his nation to retain hope under brutal conditions. Now, Havel's greatest essays, from the early sixties to his "New Year's Address" after his 1989 election to the presidency, have been collected in a volume that will, unlike most political texts, make you think as well as feel.

The most impressive of Havel's essays would have to be "Power of the Powerless" which was written in only a few days during the mid-1970's at the urging of a Polish dissident. It stresses that, when a government holds its citizens actions, words and even minds at bay, that gives the citizens a power that the government can only dream of; the power of truth. This idea of truth, which is contained in one form or another in all of Havel's writings, serves as the very basis of his political thought, which outlines man's current journey towards moral politics. A thought-provoking and deeply illuminating book

 

Open Letters: Selected Writings, 1965-1990 - Václav Havel

By Glasnos

I first heard about this book on NPR. for anyone interested in reading about the trouble with Politics and how far off course America has gone, here is someone capable of disecting the same collection of bad actors in a different country not too long ago. Havel is a master at uncovering the truth and exposing those who are out to destroy democracy and have most of us living in a system where only the few make out. He's right along side the greatest writers or all time.