OPEN LETTERS by Vaclav Havel


Selected Writings 1965-1990
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 An inspiring collection of essays, interviews, and letters, several of which have never been published in English, from the erudite, uncompromising Havel, taking the full measure of his humanism and democratic spirit. Ever the voice of reason and gentle, wry persuasion, Havel appears in these writings in a variety of guises: as a participant in the liberating Prague Spring of 1968, calling for a democratic opposition party in Czechoslovakia; as a thorn in the side of the subsequent repressive government, detailing its perfidious practices as proof of the need for organized dissent; as a silenced prisoner, first under house arrest and in the early 80's incarcerated as a subversive; and finally as the president of Czechoslovakia, still challenging his fellow citizens to throw off their reticence and work together to build a truly democratic state. Matters philosophical and practical, linguistic and sociological combine time and again in these statements over the decades, until a living synthesis emerges--a moral and political philosophy born of principled resistance to oppression and an abiding faith in the oppressed. The many short critiques and longer, more theoretical essays (``The Power of the Powerless,'' ``Anatomy of a Reticence'') can easily be viewed as calls to action on a wide front; and by calmly and objectively taking stock in each instance, undermining the Party line with ready humor and logic, Havel wields the pen mightily to prove how richly his reputation is deserved. A fitting tribute to a cultural and political hero, and a valuable resource for anyone seeking reassurance that the principles of democracy are still cherished in our time.

Pub Date: June 7th, 1991
ISBN: 0-679-40027-3
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1991


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