Monday, December 26, 2011

Vaclav Havel's Ethical Politics

In the wee hours of December 18, 2003, I was finishing up a research paper on Vaclav Havel for my high-school English class. Eight years later, in the wee hours of December 18, 2011, I came home from an evening of theater- and party-going to read the breaking news headline that Mr. Havel had passed away. For obvious reasons, Havel was one of my heroes, and I am working on a new blog post in response to his death. In the meantime, though, I'm posting my old research paper. I went back and reread it this week and, considering that I wrote it as a teenager, I still think it's a pretty good piece of work. The last paragraph, especially, stands as a fitting memorial to Havel's legacy. But because it's long and because it's from my high school days, I've put most of it after the jump.

Differing Reactions To Václav Havel’s Ethical Politics 
by Marissa Skudlarek, 2003
In addition to his role as the first post-Communist president of both Czechoslovakia (from 1989-1992) and the Czech Republic (1993-2003), Václav Havel has been an award-winning absurdist playwright, a dissident activist, a political prisoner, and an instrumental figure in Czechoslovakia’s “Velvet Revolution.”  Indeed, his help in winning Czechoslovakia’s independence from the Soviet satellite system launched him to the presidency.  A further factor was that he had become much admired—by both his compatriots and the Western intellectual community—for the many essays he had written summarizing his thoughts on the ideal role of politics. Seeing the post-totalitarian Communist government as full of lies and lacking legitimacy, he encouraged the Czechoslovak people to “live in the truth,” performing morally obligated acts of civil disobedience.  This ethical perspective on politics led the Czechoslovaks to believe that Havel would be their ideal first president.  Yet while leading Western figures continued to admire Havel’s morally-based policies, these same principles caused him to lose popularity in his native land.

As a dissident in the 1970s, Havel began developing the ethical perspective that would have such a bearing on his future career.  In his famous essay “The Power of the Powerless,” Havel introduced his phrase “living in truth” (55), by which he meant rejecting hollow Communist ideology and instead following one’s conscience despite the consequences.  According to Havel, if everyone, even the supposedly “powerless,” lives in the truth, society will improve for the better.  In fact, he perceived a “deep moral crisis in society,” which could only be remedied by this “attempt to regain one’s own sense of responsibility” (“Power of the Powerless” 62).  After sweeping away the false Communist regime and becoming president of Czechoslovakia, Havel continued to emphasize the idea that acting morally and responsibly is the best way to create a liberal democracy.
Without commonly shared and widely entrenched moral values and obligations, neither the law, nor democratic government, nor even the market economy will function properly.  They are all marvelous products of the human spirit […]—assuming the human spirit wants these mechanisms to serve it, respects them, believes in them, guarantees them, and is willing, if necessary, to fight for them or make sacrifices to them. (Summer Meditations 19)
Havel believes that this widespread moral foundation will cause “civil society,” that is, public cultural organizations (Stroehlein) to flourish, cementing the ties between government and the individual.

In Havel’s view, the politician must assume the same values, such as “living in the truth,” that have been set for the average citizen.  Applying these principles to the political world involves what Havel calls “anti-political politics,” described as “politics not as the technology of power and manipulation, of cybernetic rule over humans or as the art of the useful, but politics as one of the ways of seeking and achieving meaningful lives […], as practical morality, as service to the truth, as essentially human and humanly measured care for our fellow humans” (“Politics and Conscience” 155).  A large part of anti-political politics (also called non-political politics) involves rationally considering issues, rather than blindly following political parties or factions.  When Czechoslovakia was a one-party Communist state, Havel realized that “[shedding] the burden of traditional political categories and habits and [opening] oneself up fully to the world of human existence and then [drawing] political conclusions only after having analyzed it […] is not only politically more realistic but […] from the point of view of an ‘ideal state of affairs,’ politically more promising as well” (“The Power of the Powerless” 70).  Havel carried this belief with him when he became president, promoting anti-political politics after becoming disgusted with the partisanship of post-Communist Czechoslovakia (Summer Meditations 2-3).  Furthermore, Havel sees politicians as having an awesome responsibility: not solely to serve their constituencies, or even their countries, but the whole world.  “Through intrigue one may become prime minister,” Havel acknowledges, “but that will be the extent of one’s success; one can hardly improve the world that way” (Summer Meditations 6).  Indeed, Havel agreed to be president of Czechoslovakia only after realizing that he had the responsibility to live up to his ideals by putting his political theories into practice (Summer Meditations xvi).  He resolved anew to “live in the truth,” ignored advice to be more manipulative or stern or partisan (Summer Meditations 7), and held to his ideals of ethical, non-political, politics.

Intellectuals from many Western countries have admired Havel’s views, lauding his political theory or expressing solidarity with his dissident activities.  The late German writer Heinrich Böll, winner of the 1972 Nobel Prize, wrote an essay demonstrating a near worship of Havel, even claiming that “a Christ is speaking in [Letters to Olga, Havel’s letters from prison]” (211).  In some respects, Böll appears so captivated by Havel that he cannot even explain why he admires him so: “If an objection is raised against Havel to the effect that ‘this’—resistance, endurance, and hope—‘serves no purpose,’ then my reply will be quite simply that it does in fact have a purpose” (211).  Böll’s reaction, though, accurately reflects the adulation that Havel has received from the international intellectual community.  For example, Swedish literary figure Harry Järv has positively compared Havel’s civil disobedience to Antigone and Thoreau (Järv 234-235); and playwrights as varied as the American Arthur Miller, the Irish-French Samuel Beckett, and the Czech-British Tom Stoppard have all written works dedicated to Havel, as a gesture of support during his difficult dissident years (Miller 263; Beckett 199; Stoppard 278).  Western politicians, also, have found much to esteem in Havel.  The American presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have even been described as “tongue-tied and awe-struck in the presence of someone who actually fought communism and lived to tell about it” (Welch).  At a joint press conference with Havel, Bush gushed to the Czech President, “Your life has shown that a person who dedicates himself to freedom can change the course of a nation and change the course of history […] I’m proud to call you friend” (“Press Conference”).

Mainstream American publications, while acknowledging Havel’s flaws, also maintain this admiring tone.  In an article originally published in Vanity Fair, writer Stephen Schiff describes Havel as “sort of European Gandhi: shy and selfless, yet insuperably stubborn; seemingly egoless, yet devoid of moral doubt; cunning and even manipulative, but never toward his own personal ends; conscience-driven, but never condemnatory of those who aren’t” (78).  Although Schiff gently prods Havel for concentrating on improving foreign policy as he let domestic problems flourish (76), he often gives the impression of being fascinated by Havel.  The New York Times has also joined in the appreciation, publishing a glowing editorial in support of Havel’s ethical politics when he left office in February 2003.  It called Havel “an exceptional individual moral authority […] [who] showed us that speaking honestly and deeply when you are expected merely to express platitudes brings its own political authority.  Czechs and the rest of us are better off because of him” (“Vaclav Havel Takes His Leave”).  The editorial noted that under Havel’s ethical rule, the Czech Republic has achieved such positive things as a multiparty democratic system, a free press, and an invitation to join the European Union.  Yet it also admitted that Havel had problems maintaining his popularity among Czechs, “in part because he continued to remind his compatriots that their newfound democracy depended on their everyday moral vigilance” (“Vaclav Havel Takes His Leave”).  The editorial thus makes clear that both the warm non-Czech view of Havel and the more ambivalent reaction he faces from his compatriots are due to his moral perspective on politics.

Not every Western intellectual admires Havel’s ethical standpoint, though.  Noam Chomsky, “arguably the most important intellectual alive,” according to The New York Times (quoted in “Noam Chomsky – Wikipedia”), has made comments demonstrating a vehement dislike for Havel’s ideas.  Havel’s 1990 address to the United States Congress, in which he praised the United States for its democratic tradition, called it “a defender of freedom” and exhorted it to fulfill its role as the world’s one superpower in an ethical and responsible fashion (The Art of the Impossible 10-20), won a very positive reaction from both Congress and the media.  Yet in one of his letters, Chomsky takes a completely opposing stance, calling this “awed response” “one of the most illuminating examples of the total and complete intellectual and moral corruption of Western culture” (Chomsky).  Not only does he think that the idea of morality and responsibility in politics is trite, but also he finds Havel a reprehensible, hypocritical flatterer.  In Chomsky’s worldview, American imperialism has caused more suffering than Soviet totalitarianism ever did; he calls the Soviet satellite states “practically a paradise” by comparison.  He notes that the United States would not punish Havel if he told the “truth” (that is, Chomsky’s view that America is a threat to world peace), wondering why Havel thus feels compelled to “lie.”  Havel’s “flattery” of the United States thus causes Chomsky to conclude that “by every conceivable standard, the performance of Havel, Congress, the media, and […] the Western intellectual community at large are on a moral and intellectual level that is vastly below that of Third World peasants and Stalinist hacks—not an unusual discovery” (Chomsky).  While Chomsky’s hatred of Havel’s ideas is a harsh perspective from an important figure, it has done little, if anything, to sway the favorable opinion of Havel held by the Western intellectual community.

However, the Czech people generally seem to have a more ambivalent impression of Havel for one of two reasons, both relating to his ethical politics.  Either they hold him to such high moral standards that they become disillusioned when he becomes involved in less pure political or personal business; or they believe Havel is too “non-political” to be an effective leader.  Havel himself has acknowledged the first criticism: in typically self-deprecating fashion, he titled a collection of his presidential speeches and writings The Art of the Impossible: Politics as Morality in Practice, and many of the texts in this volume deal with the “impossible” task of applying his ethical politics to everyday political reality.  In one especially illuminating speech, which he delivered at New York University in 1991, Havel admits,
For years I criticized practical politics as no more than a technique in the struggle for power […] Destiny […] played a strange joke on me, as if it were telling me […]: Since you think you’re so smart, now is your chance to show everyone you have ever criticized the right way to do things […] And so, not surprisingly, I am now in a rather unenviable position.  All my political activities, and perhaps all the domestic and foreign policies pursued by Czechoslovakia as well, are being examined under a microscope I once constructed myself without knowing where it would lead.  (82-83)
At the time Havel spoke these words, he had already weathered a few political scandals, but had not lost massive amounts of his early popularity.  Yet this speech well predicted what was to happen: upon learning that their idealistic president was not perfect, the Czechs would delight in turning against him.

For example, on the personal front, Havel was widely criticized for remarrying less than a year after his first wife, Olga, died of cancer.  Olga Havlová was (and remains) a highly respected figure among Czechs for her own dissident past, steadfast support of Havel, charitable work, and no-nonsense attitude (“Olga Havlova” and “Czechs Remember Olga Havlova”).  Furthermore, Havel’s second wife, Dagmar, was a leggy blonde actress who had once played a topless vampire in a hit movie (Greene).  When Havel was in the hospital for an emergency tracheotomy, Dagmar noticed he was asphyxiating and saved his life by calling a doctor—then promptly ruined her reputation again by summoning a faith healer.  People found crass not only that Havel married Dagmar so soon after both Olga’s death and his own near-death experience, but also that he justified it by claiming that Olga wanted him to remarry (Keane 481).  Dagmar was widely believed to have ill effects on Havel’s presidency, not only because he acted embarrassingly “besotted” (Keane 482), but because as First Lady she acted like a diva, making unreasonable, ambitious demands and diverting his attention.  Havel’s steadfast defense of her only made him more unpopular among Czechs (Keane 480-484).

Havel had struggled through one of his most major political scandals during his first term as president—one of the only times he ever came near being called “unethical.”  Havel had appointed Richard Sacher the Minister of the Interior, hoping that he would stop the Ministry’s widespread destruction of important secret police files.  Instead, Sacher collaborated with former Communists by refusing to reform the Ministry, making a private collection of files, and going through the files in the hopes of finding scandalous information about Parliament members.  Czechoslovaks knew that these activities could lead to blackmail, and worried that Havel might be taking files from Sacher so that information contained therein would not damage his regime.  It is still not known to what extent, if any, Havel was complicit in what came to be known as “Sachergate.”  According to Keane, “the only reason [Sachergate] did not bring down the President of the country was because, at the time, Havel’s potential critics around the Castle [the Czech President’s official residence] held fast to the view that ‘solidarity’ with the Castle was vital if the ancien régime was to be defeated” (429).  Havel found a solution by asking all Parliament members with names contained in the files to resign.  Unfortunately, that led to an even more ethically questionable practice: lustration (Keane 428-431).

Lustration, a word deriving from the Latin for “to purify” (Keane 431), stems from a more general issue faced by the Czechoslovaks: what to do about the Communist party and its former members.  After the Velvet Revolution of 1989, the Party was not officially banned, and in fact, retained much of its huge assets (Whipple 61).  Havel and his tolerant, ethical perspective played a large part in this: he did not believe that the Communist party should be treated like scapegoats.  Although he made many speeches lambasting the former Communist regime for what it did to Czechoslovakia, he also implied that every Czechoslovak was partially responsible for Communism’s effects.  “We had all become used to the totalitarian system and accepted it as an unalterable fact of life, and thus we helped to perpetuate it” (“New Year’s Address to the Nation” 4), was a typical comment, once again deriving from Havel’s belief that society as a whole must “live in the truth” if any change is to occur.  He insisted that “[The Party] ought to have the good conscience to dissolve itself and start afresh—something it has yet to do.  The revolution is to proceed by absolutely legal means” (quoted in Whipple 42), but six months after the revolution, the government confiscated all Party property (Whipple 61).  However, the Communist Party still had the largest membership of any Czech political party, and won second place in the June 1990 elections (Whipple 62).  It gradually lost influence—entirely through Havel’s “legal means”—and is no longer a social force today. 

However, a more difficult issue still faced Czechoslovaks: how to deal with former high-ranking members of the Party itself, especially bureaucrats and secret-police informers.  There was a large popular push to exclude them altogether from public life, although the government was reluctant to do this because Communists were the only citizens experienced at administration (Wilson 25).  Havel continued to take the ethical “high road,” but instead of admiring his policies, the Czechoslovaks saw them as weak.  This provided an opening for rabid anti-Communists, such as Václav Klaus, Havel’s Finance Minister, to push the Lustration Act through the legislature (Keane 432; Wilson 26).  Since the act did pass by only a slim margin (Keane 432), Havel’s views were not completely ignored by the legislature.  Still, he did not retain enough influence to stop this “most ethically dubious and politically controversial purging legislation in all of central and eastern Europe” (Keane 431), which targeted over a million Czechoslovak citizens.  (At this time, the nation only contained about 15 million people.)  It went after Communists who held political power at district level or above, former secret-police officers, and those accused of collaborating with them; forbidding members of these groups to hold high-level administrative jobs in the government, military, education, or large companies.  All people who sought one of these jobs, in fact, needed “clearance” from Minister of the Interior before they could be hired.  (Keane 432).

As soon as the law was passed, there was an instant outcry.  Many people did agree with Havel that the Communists should not be made scapegoats.  Others accused Václav Klaus and other architects of the law of using to further their own political ambitions.  The most stinging criticism was that although the Lustration Act attempted to prosecute the secret police, it only ended up giving them more power.  It would use the secret police’s records to determine guilt, even though everybody knew that the unscrupulous Communist police would extort false confessions or fabricate evidence (Keane 432-433).  Havel was distraught by the atmosphere of guilt, fear, and suspicion that the Lustration Act caused in Czechoslovakia, and vehemently denounced it to foreigners (“Speech at New York University” 85).  Yet domestically, he was less vocal: he conceded that definite criminals ought to be punished, and refused to hear individual cases.  According to Keane, this signified that Havel no longer believed in the ideal of absolute truth, but had finally learned the politically expedient “value of tact” (436).  Indeed, Havel had chosen the non-dissident option.  He confessed to a moral opposition to the Lustration Act, yet chose to sign it so as not to enter into open conflict with Parliament.  To appease his conscience, he did recommend that Parliament amend the bill, yet still knew that Parliament might not make any of the changes that he suggested (“Speech at New York University” 86).  He concluded the speech by saying that he had finally learned that “the way of a truly moral politics is neither simple nor easy” (86).

Havel’s ethical perspective on politics would be further tested by his conflict with Václav Klaus, who at various times during Havel’s presidency served as Finance Minister and Prime Minister.  Like Havel, Klaus was a former intellectual and writer, and a leading figure of the Czechoslovakian revolution (Ash 58).  Interestingly, over twenty years before they would come to represent the two sides of Czech politics, these men shared similar political views.  Klaus revealed, in an interview with Reason magazine, “[Havel and I] served on the editorial board of a literary monthly called Face in 1968 and 1969. He was a young writer, and I was also interested in broad cultural issues. We agreed on all major issues and became friends” (“No Third Way Out”).  Furthermore, Havel and Klaus initially had the same goals for the Czech Republic: a well-orchestrated transition to democracy and a free-market economy.  But while Havel interpreted “well-orchestrated” to mean “smooth,” Klaus interpreted it to mean “quick,” even if dishonesty and corruption resulted (Ash 69).  Some of Klaus’s now-legendary statements, such as “There is no dirty money” (quoted by Stroehlein) reflected his attitude.  These hardnosed sentiments fit the mood of the country, which rapidly followed Klaus’s vision and became a free-market economy “more unregulated than anything in the West” (Stroehlein).  Rejecting Havel’s ideas of collective ethical responsibility, the Czechs sided with the “other Václav” and rushed headlong into market reform.

Another major Havel-Klaus dispute dealt with the role of political parties.   Colored by their experiences with the one-party Communist system, Havel and many other Czech intellectuals were deeply suspicious of organized political parties (Stroehlein).  They had formed an organization called “Civic Forum” to help achieve independence from the Soviet system, and Havel hoped that this coalition would remain a social force, as opposed to becoming a narrow faction.  Klaus, on the other hand, wanted to develop an agenda for Civic Forum, especially so that it could achieve its economic goals (Stroehlein).  Eventually, Klaus’s branch of Civic Forum became a strong new political party, while Havel’s supporters were left stranded, unable to compete with Klaus’s organized movement.  Even Westerners have criticized Havel for such strong opposition to political parties.  Timothy Garton Ash, for example, suggests that had Havel spearheaded another movement, regardless of its partisan nature, he would have built up a power base, rather than seeing his influence wane.  Although he remained sufficiently popular to serve as Czech president for two terms, this meant little in the long run because the office has such limited powers (66).  Havel and Klaus continued to duel, which ended up “[underlying] almost every crisis and every major policy decision made since 1989” (Wilson 29).  Eventually, it seemed to Czechs that these men were irrevocably opposed, always making thinly veiled jabs at each other in the press.  There appeared to be no issue on which they could agree, and Czechs came to see their country’s politics as solely a clash between these two figures (Ash 68).  Klaus was eventually forced to resign because of a scandal (Wilson 29), yet he gained power once again and, to many people’s surprise, became Czech president when Havel’s term ended.  More importantly, Havel’s refusal to collaborate with his own Prime Minister—a refusal that impeded domestic politics—showed that he had fallen prey to the factionalism that he had once so vehemently opposed.

Furthermore, Czechs continued to have difficulty with Havel’s ethical politics, which they found “impractical, overly intellectual, and out of touch” (Stroehlein).  Even Czechs who saw Havel’s good points acknowledged that his ethical politics did not always function as they would like.  Perhaps the best expression of this attitude comes from Lubos Beniak, a newspaper editor.  He has called Havel “exceptional” and “a very honest man,” yet also admitted,
The support [for Havel] is not ecstatic like it was before […], but it’s still there.  You know, sometimes, as a politician, he has made mistakes.  But his mistakes all come from the same thing: he sometimes doesn’t respect the realities of life.  And it’s very difficult to say that this is bad, because […] if he respected the realities of life, he wouldn’t be president today. (Quoted by Schiff, 79)
The ambivalence of Beniak’s statement—the way it mixes respect of Havel’s ideas and resignation to their impracticality—characterizes the Czech attitude toward their former president.  Despite Havel’s flaws, scandals, and fights with Klaus, there were still long lines at Prague bookstores in 1994, when he published a volume of his speeches (Critical Essays 90).  At the very least, these lines signify that Czech citizens were curious about the ethical politics that Havel presents in many of these speeches.  Unlike Western intellectuals and politicians, who admire Havel in sometimes lofty terms, Czechs do judge Havel according to higher moral standards, or see his ideals as unachievable dreams.  However, they retain an essential admiration for their president and his ethical politics—politics that, at the very least, were able to defeat the lies of the Communists.

Works Consulted
Ash, Timothy Garton.  “Prague: Intellectuals and Politicians.”  The New York Review 42, no. 1 (January 12, 1995): 34-40.  Rpt. in Critical Essays on Václav Havel.  Ed. Marketa Goetz-Stankiewicz and Phyllis Carey.  New York: G.K. Hall and Co., 1999.  57-71.

Beckett, Samuel.  “Catastrophe.”  Contained in Václav Havel: Living in Truth: Twenty-two Essays Published on the Occasion of the Award of the Erasmus Prize to Václav Havel.  Ed. Jan Vladislav.  London: Faber and Faber, 1990. 199-203

Böll, Heinrich.  “Courtesy Towards God.” Contained in Václav Havel: Living in Truth: Twenty-two Essays Published on the Occasion of the Award of the Erasmus Prize to Václav Havel.  Ed. Jan Vladislav.  London: Faber and Faber, 1990.  204-212

Carey, Nick.  “Olga Havlova.”  Radio Prague, February 2, 2000.  Accessed at, November 30, 2003.
Chomsky, Noam.  “Letter to Alexander Cockburn,” March 30, 1990.  Contained in The Golden Age Is In Us.  Alexander Cockburn.  Verso, 1995.  149-151.  Accessed at, December 1, 2003.

Furlong, Ray.  “Havel Decries Czech Politics.”  BBC News Online, June 4, 2002.  Accessed at, November 30, 2003.

Greene, Richard Allen.  “Vaclav Havel: End of an Era.”  BBC News Online, October 9, 2003.  Accessed at, November 30, 2003.

Havel, Václav.  “New Year’s Address to the Nation, Prague, January 1, 1990.”  Contained in The Art of the Impossible: Politics as Morality in Practice.  Václav Havel, trans. Paul Wilson et al.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997.  3-9.

Havel, Václav.  Speech at New York University, October 27, 1991.  Contained in The Art of the Impossible: Politics as Morality in Practice.  Václav Havel, trans. Paul Wilson et al.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997.  82-86.

Havel, Václav, trans. E. Kohák and R. Scruton.  “Politics and Conscience.”  Contained in Václav Havel: Living in Truth: Twenty-two Essays Published on the Occasion of the Award of the Erasmus Prize to Václav Havel.  Ed. Jan Vladislav.  London: Faber and Faber, 1990.  136-157

Havel, Václav, trans. Paul Wilson.  Summer Meditations.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.

Havel, Václav, trans. Paul Wilson.  “The Power of the Powerless.”  Contained in Václav Havel: Living in Truth: Twenty-two Essays Published on the Occasion of the Award of the Erasmus Prize to Václav Havel.  Ed. Jan Vladislav.  London: Faber and Faber, 1990.  36-122

Järv, Harry.  “Citizen Versus State.”  Contained in Václav Havel: Living in Truth: Twenty-two Essays Published on the Occasion of the Award of the Erasmus Prize to Václav Havel.  Ed. Jan Vladislav.  London: Faber and Faber, 1990.  232-244

Keane, John.  Václav Havel: A Political Tragedy in Six Acts.  London: Bloomsbury, 1999.

Miller, Arthur.  “I Think About You a Great Deal.” Contained in Václav Havel: Living in Truth: Twenty-two Essays Published on the Occasion of the Award of the Erasmus Prize to Václav Havel.  Ed. Jan Vladislav.  London: Faber and Faber, 1990.  263-265

“Noam Chomsky – Wikipedia.” Accessed at, December 1, 2003.

“No Third Way Out: Creating a Capitalist Czechoslovakia: Vaclav Klaus interviewed by John H. Fund.”  Reason Online.  Accessed at, November 30, 2003.

Pehe, Jiri.  “Vaclav Havel: The Dissident in Power.” Published in Kiev’s The Day.  Accessed at, November 30, 2003.

“Press Conference by US President George Bush and Vaclav Havel, President of the Czech Republic.”  November 20, 2002.  Transcript accessed at, December 2, 2002.

Schiff, Stephen.  “Havel’s Choice.”  Vanity Fair, August 1991, 124 ff.  Rpt. in Critical Essays on Václav Havel.  Ed. Marketa Goetz-Stankiewicz and Phyllis Carey.  New York: G.K. Hall and Co., 1999.  75-89

Solic, Mirna. “Czechs Remember Olga Havlova; ‘A Girl from Zizkov.’” Radio Prague, July 14, 2003.  Accessed at, November 30, 2003.

Stoppard, Tom.  “Introduction (to The Memorandum).” Contained in Václav Havel: Living in Truth: Twenty-two Essays Published on the Occasion of the Award of the Erasmus Prize to Václav Havel.  Ed. Jan Vladislav.  London: Faber and Faber, 1990.  278-280

Stroehlein, Andrew.  “Three Vaclavs.”  Central Europe Review, August 30, 1999.  Accessed at, November 30, 2003.

“Vaclav Havel Takes His Leave.”  The New York Times, February 3, 2003.  Accessed at, November 30, 2003.
Welch, Matt.  “Velvet President: Why Vaclav Havel is Our Era’s George Orwell and More.”  Reason, May 2003.  Accessed at, December 2, 2003.

Whipple, Tim D., ed.  After the Velvet Revolution: Václav Havel and the New Leaders of Czechoslovakia Speak Out.  New York: Freedom House, 1991.

Wilson, Paul.  “Václav Havel in Word and Deed.” Critical Essays on Václav Havel.  Ed. Marketa Goetz-Stankiewicz and Phyllis Carey.  New York: G.K. Hall and Co., 1999.  21-30

Yurkovsky, Andrew.  “After the Flood.”  World Press Review Online, September 4, 2002.  Accessed at, November 30, 2003.


Dr.J said...

Well, there are precedents. In Spain the aristocrat Ángel de Saavedra (3rd Duke of Rivas) is famous for his play Don Álvaro o la fuerza del sino (1835) in the line of La forza del destino. A moderate liberal in politics he was President of the Council (Prime Minister) in 1854 under the Queen Isabel II, but only for two days! Times were rough in spanish politics.
Congratulations for your essay and looking forward your reading lists for 2011

Marissa Skudlarek said...

Feliz Año Nuevo, Dr. J. I will post my reading list and playgoing list soon.