Vaclav Havel is revered as one of the century's great playwrights, dissidents, and honest champions of democracy. Yet many episodes of his life remain unknown. In his startling book, John Keane reveals Havel so far unseen, dramatising the key moments of joy, misery, triumph and tragedy on which his life has turned.
Havel was born in 1936 into a well-connected bourgeois family in Prague. He grew up in one of the hottest of the world's hot-spots and witnessed the efforts of the people of his native Czechoslovakia to deal with not one but two totalitarian regimes. John Keane describes Havel's disdain for Nazi troops and Soviet tanks in the streets of his childhood; his daring teenage efforts, in the face of Stalin, to organise a literary circle called the Thirty-Sixers; his assaults on the theatre establishment leading to global fame for award-winning, side-splitting satires on the absurdities of unaccountable power. We see his early confrontations with the community authorities in the 1960s, as editor of the journal "Tvar" (The Face), as political writer, and as radio announcer and street activist during and immediately after the Prague Spring. We watch him brave the Cold War, dream up the human rights initiative called Charter 77, and suffer four years' imprisonment. His dramatic role in the magical "velvet" events in the autumn of 1989 is scrutinized. We see him fighting his way through an obstacle course of death, intrigue, rivalry and trickery, then catapulted into the office of President of his country as it gropes its way towards constitutional government, market reforms, and entry into the European Union. Finally we see, through the twists and turns of the past decade, the final act of a tragedy unfolding in the hilltop castle of Prague, to the sounds of public grumbling and sharpening knives.
- Publication Date:
- 01 / 12 / 1999
- 161 x 240mm