Havel, Vaclav 1936–

views updated

Havel, Vaclav 1936–

PERSONAL: Born October 5, 1936, in Prague, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic); son of Vaclav M. (a building contractor and restaurateur) and Bozena (Vavreckova) Havel; married Olga Splichalova, 1964 (died, January 27, 1996); married Dagmar Havlova, January 4, 1997. Education: Attended technical college, 1955–57, and Prague Academy of Art, 1962–67.

ADDRESSES: Agent—Aura Pont Agency, Radilcka 99, 150 00 Prague, Czech Republic.

CAREER: Playwright and politician. ABC Theatre, Prague, Czechoslovakia, stagehand, 1959–60; Theatre on the Balustrade, Prague, stagehand, 1960–61, assistant to artistic director, 1961–63, literary manager, 1963–68, resident playwright, 1968; imprisoned for dissent, 1977, 1979–83, and 1989; president of Czechoslovakia, 1989–92; president of Czech Republic, 1993–2003. Military service: Czech Army, 1957–59.

MEMBER: PEN (member of board of directors), Union of Writers (Czechoslovakia), Charter 77 (co-founder), Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Persecuted (VONS).

AWARDS, HONORS: Austrian State Prize for European Literature, 1969; Obie awards, Village Voice, 1970, for The Increased Difficulty of Concentration, 1984, for A Private View, and, 1985–86, for Largo Desolato; Erasmus Prize, 1986; Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, 1988, for Largo Desolato; German Booksellers Association prize, 1989; Olof Palme prize, 1989; Simon Bolívar prize, UNESCO, 1990; President's Award, PEN Center USA West, 1990; Charlemagne prize, Sonning prize, Averell Harriman Democracy Award, B'Nai Brith prize, Freedom Award, Raoul Wallenberg Human Rights Award, and International Book Award, all 1991; Onassis Prize Athinai, Order of White Eagle, and Golden Honorary Order of Freedom, all 1993; Indira Gandhi prize, Philadelphia Liberty Medal, and Jackson H. Ralston Prize in International Law, all 1994; Geuzenpenning, Catalonia international prize, and Future of Hope Award, all 1995; Order of the Bath and Virgin Mary's Land Cross, both 1996; Prix Special, International Association of Theatrical Critics (France), Statesman of the Year award (co-recipient with German President Roman Herzog), Institute for East-West Studies, J. William Fulbright prize, and Peace and Democracy award (Burma), all 1997; Compostela Group prize (Spain), 1998; First Decade award, Gazeta Wyborcza (Poland), Open Society prize (Hungary), and St. Adalbert Foundation prize (Slovakia), all 1999; Evelyn F. Burkey award, Authors Guild of America, Olympic Gate award, International Olympic Committee, Foundation Stätsbrugerlicher Stiftung, and Wild Geese award (Prague), all 2000. Recipient of honorary degrees from numerous institutions, including Columbia University, Hebrew University—Jerusalem, Lehigh University, University of Brussels, Harvard University, University of New South Wales, Trinity College—Dublin, and various universities in the Czech Republic.



Zahradni slavnost (also see below; first produced in Prague, Czechoslovakia, 1963), [Czechoslovakia], 1964, translation by Vera Blackwell published as The Garden Party, J. Cape (London, England), 1969.

Vyrozumeni (also see below; first produced in Prague, Czechoslovakia, 1965; produced Off-Broadway, 1968), Dilia, 1965, translation by Vera Blackwell published as The Memorandum, J. Cape (London, England), 1967.

Ztizena moznost soustredeni (first produced in Prague, Czechoslovakia, 1968; produced in New York, NY, 1969), Dilia, 1968, translation by Vera Blackwell published as The Increased Difficulty of Concentration, J. Cape (London, England), 1972.

Sorry: Two Plays (contains Audience and Vernisaz; also see below), translation by Vera Blackwell, Methuen (London, England), 1978.

A Private View (one-act plays; contains Interview, A Private View, and The Protest; translation by Vera Blackwell, produced in New York, NY, 1983, produced as The Vanek Plays, London, England, 1990), portions included in The Vanek Plays: Four Authors, One Character, translation by M. Pomichalek and A. Mozga, University of British Columbia Press (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1987.

Largo Desolato (produced in Bristol, England; translation by Marie Winn produced in New York, NY, 1986), translation by Tom Stoppard, Faber & Faber (Boston, MA), 1987.

Pokouseni (first produced in Vienna, Austria, 1985; produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company; translation by Marie Winn produced in New York, NY, 1989), translation by George Thiener, Faber & Faber (Boston, MA), 1988.

The Garden Party, and Other Plays, Grove Press (New York, NY), 1993.

Selected Plays, 1984–1987 (included Largo Desolato and Temptation), Faber & Faber (Boston, MA), 1988.

Redevelopment, translation by James Saunders, Faber & Faber (Boston, MA), 1994.

The Beggar's Opera, translation by Paul Wilson, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 2001.

Also author of The Conspirators, 1971, The Mountain Hotel, 1974, Mistake, and The Guardian Angel; author of adaptation of John Gay's 1765 work The Beggar's Opera, 1972. Contributor to anthologies, including Three Eastern European Plays, 1970.


(With Ivan Vyskocil) Autostop (play; title means "Hitchhike"), first produced in Prague, Czechoslovakia, 1961.

Protokoly (anthology; title means "Protocols"; contains plays Zahradni slavnost and Vyrozumeni, two essays, and selected poems), introduction by Jan Grossman, Mlanda Fronta, 1966.

Hry 1970–1976 (plays; contains Spiklenci, Zebracka Opera, Horsky Hotel, Audience, and Vernisaz), Sixty-Eight Publishing House (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1977.

Pokouseni: Hra o deseti obrazech, Obrys/Kontur (Munich, Germany), 1986.

Dalkovy Vyslech: Rozhovor s Karlem Hvizdalou, Rozmluvy, 1986.

Asanace: Hra o peti jednanich, Obrys/Kontur, 1988.

Letni premitani, Odeon, 1991.

Sila bessilsnykh, Polifakt, 1991.

Hry: soubor her z let 1963–1988 (plays), Lidove noviny, 1992.

Vazeni obcane: projevy cervenec 1990–cervenec 1992, Lidove noviny, 1992.

Antikaody: Vaclav Havel, Odeon, 1993.

Deset dopiseu Olze (correspondence), Vybor dobre veule, 1997.

Hovory s Havly: Dalkove rozhovory s Vaclavem Havlem a s Ivanem M. Havlem, Zdenek Susa, 1999.

Havel's speeches were collected and published in annual editions, Paseka, 1992–1998.


(With others) The Power of the Powerless: Citizens against the State in Central Eastern Europe, edited by John Keane, M.E. Sharpe (Armonk, NJ), 1985.

Vaclav Havel; or, Living in Truth (essay collection), edited by Jan Vladislav, Faber & Faber (Boston, MA), 1987.

Letters to Olga: June 1979 to September 1982 (correspondence), translated by Paul Wilson, Knopf (New York, NY), 1988.

Disturbing the Peace: A Conversation with Karel Hvizdala (interviews), translated by Paul Wilson, Knopf (New York, NY), 1990.

Open Letters: Selected Writings, edited by Paul Wilson, Knopf (New York, NY), 1991.

Summer Meditations (essays), translated by Paul Wilson, Knopf (New York, NY), 1992.

A Word about Words, Cooper Union (New York, NY), 1992.

The Art of the Impossible: Politics As Morality in Practice; Speeches and Writings, 1990–1996, translated by Paul Wilson and others, Knopf (New York, NY), 1997.

Responsibility, Safety, Stability: Vaclav Havel concerning NATO: Selected Speeches, Articles, and Interviews, 1990–1999, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, 1999.

(Author of introduction) Allen Ginsburg, Spontaneous Mind: Selected Interviews, 1958–1996, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

Also author of monograph on writer/painter Joseph Capek, 1963, and of Slum Clearance, 1987. Contributor to New York Review of Books and other periodicals.

Havel's writings have been translated into numerous languages.

ADAPTATIONS: Letters to Olga was set to music and performed by Petr Kotik and the S.E.M. Ensemble, 1989.

SIDELIGHTS: Vaclav Havel's unique career has led him from early praise as a promising dramatic talent to the presidency of a free Czechoslovakia. Havel enjoyed early success as a playwright in his home country, where his first three plays—The Garden Party, The Memorandum, and The Increased Difficulty of Concentration—were acclaimed for their inventive take on bureaucracy and its effects in creating a dehumanized society. After the Soviet invasion of 1968, however, Havel's works were banned and the dramatist himself became the target of government harassment and imprisonment for his outspokenness. Nevertheless, Havel's works found staging in the Western world, increasing his fame and leading Tulane Drama Review critic Henry Popkin to call Havel "the leading Czech dramatist since Karel Capek." In the meantime, Havel gained renown at home for his willingness to suffer government retribution in order to air his views on freedom and human rights. As a result, the sweeping changes that took place in Eastern Europe in late 1989 not only led to the reinstatement of Havel's plays on the Czech stage, but also to his election as president of Czechoslovakia, a position he held until February of 2003.

According to Popkin, Havel's first play, The Garden Party, "touches upon the discomforts endured by political bureaucracy as it makes its transition from Stalinism to an awkward and severely limited liberalism." The play concerns the career of Hugo Pludek, who, continually mouthing platitudes and political slogans, rises rapidly to control of the Office of Liquidation and the Office of Inauguration. The play focuses on efforts to dissolve the Office of Liquidation, which, however, can only dissolve itself—an impossibility since, once the process was begun, the office would no longer exist to finish the job. In the Tulane Drama Review Jan Grossman described The Garden Party as dominated by cliché: "Man does not use cliché, cliché uses man. Cliché is the hero, it causes, advances, and complicates the plot, determining human action, and deviating further and further from our given reality, creates its own." Marketa Goetz-Stankiewicz elaborated, noting in The Silenced Theatre that Havel's main concern in the play is "the power of language as a perpetuator of systems, a tool to influence man's mind and therefore one of the strongest (though secret) weapons of any system that wants to mould him."

The Memorandum also concerns the political power of language, in this instance the distortion of language by bureaucracy. Havel's second play revolves around Ptydepe, an artificial and incomprehensible language designed to make all office communication precise and unemotional. The fall and rise of an office manager as a result of his inability to use the new language constitutes the play's main action. A writer for the Times Literary Supplement commented: "In The Garden Party Havel showed us words dominating human beings: the phrase is the real hero of the piece, creating the situations and complicating them, directing human destinies instead of being their tool. In Vyrozumeni—to use the original Czech title of The Memorandum—man finds himself enmeshed not merely in a succession of phrases but in a whole language." As Grossman explained, "Man makes an artificial language which is intended to render communication perfect and objective, but which actually leads to constantly deepening alienation and disturbance in human relations."

Despite its treatment of serious issues and themes, The Memorandum is an amusing, entertaining play. Clive Barnes of the New York Times, for example, called it a "witty, funny and timely" political satire, while Nation critic Robert Hatch considered it a "bureaucratic burlesque." Havel's use of his invented language contributes to the comic and absurd aspects of the play. As Paul I. Trensky elaborated in the Slavic and East European Journal, "The scenes with the greatest force of absurd comedy are those in which Ptydepe is given voice directly." "The theory of the new languages discussed in the play is brilliantly worked out," Martin Es-slin similarly stated in The Theatre of the Absurd. In addition, Esslin remarked, "Havel is a master of the ironical, inverted repetition, of almost identical phrases in different contexts."

After Havel was silenced by the Czech authorities, his The Increased Difficulty of Concentration was produced in New York City by the Lincoln Center Repertory Theatre. The play depicts the attempts of philosopher Dr. Eduard Huml to deal with a series of challenges: the contrary demands of his wife and mistress; the dictation of a pedantic essay to a beautiful secretary; and his participation in an experiment that requires him to answer the questions of a temperamental computer. The form of the drama is variable; "chronology has been banished from the premises," observed Washington Post writer David Richards, so that "Havel's scenes follow one another with a blithe disregard for logic." Thus a character may exit and re-enter on opposite ends of the stage, and scenes fluctuate back and forth in time.

Cue reviewer Marilyn Stasio found the work a "potent satiric drama" that, "for all its ominous undertones, [is] an inescapably funny play." Mel Gussow in the New York Times judged the play to be "gentler" than The Memorandum, while a Variety critic considered it "a better play than Havel's earlier work,… with application beyond the border of eastern Europe." In his review for the Nation, Harold Clurman noted the play's importance for a Czech audience: "The speech that seems almost embarrassingly out of place with us, a speech in which the central character declares his conviction that the truth of life cannot be measured by computers or bureaucratic dictates but only by the motivations of the human heart, is what Havel meant his play to say. That is what gave it social force in his country…. Thus the play, a farce of no great subtlety, becomes something vital to the Czech citizen forever under the vigilant and evil eye—of who can say just what." But Richards suggested that The Increased Difficulty of Concentration is entertaining no matter who the audience, calling it "a decidedly unusual comedy, full of the slapstick invention and mishap that Havel obviously sees as a measure of our absurd world."

Although Havel received many invitations to work in the West after 1968, he chose to remain in Czechoslovakia, afraid that if he left he would not be allowed back in the country. Forbidden to work in the theater, he devoted much of his time to speaking out against government oppression. In 1969, for example, he visited steel mills in Ostrava and spoke to union members about workers and intellectuals cooperating to defend the freedoms gained in the spring of 1968. This led to government surveillance of the playwright and his family; and even members of his audience became victims of police reprisals, such as when his adaptation of The Beggar's Opera was produced by amateurs in 1975. In 1977 Havel became one of the three principal spokesmen for the Charter 77 manifesto, which charged the Czech government with human-and civil-rights viola-tions and called for compliance with the provisions of the Helsinki Agreement. After joining with the artists, writers, intellectuals, and working people of the Charter 77 movement, Havel was arrested and imprisoned several times.

These experiences are reflected in many of Havel's later works, including the three "Vanek" plays, staged together as A Private View and Largo Desolato. The three short plays of A Private View, consisting of Interview, the title piece, and The Protest, "are linked both thematically and by the presence in each of a mild-mannered, steel-cored autobiographical character named Ferdinand Vanek, dissident artist and outsider in hopeless conflict with an oppressive social order," as Helen Dudar explained in the New York Times. The first play shows Vanek being offered favors by his factory foreman if he will inform on himself; the second brings the artist in contact with a bourgeois couple who refuse to understand his cause; and the third portrays Vanek's encounter with a fellow artist who uses convoluted logic to avoid signing a political protest. "In each of the plays we see how others react to [Vanek] … and to his martyrdom," commented Gussow, "how each wears his guilt as a badge of identity: the price of prosperity is the loss of humanity. Vanek has become a public conscience and his very presence is a 'living reproach' to those who are compromisers and cowards."

"All three plays suggest what their author has been publicly saying," stated London Times writer Benedict Nightingale: "that lies erode the human spirit, and honesty, once lost, will take time to recover." But while the plays point out this truth, they do so without preaching or being simplistic. As Nightingale observed, the play's "point is the stronger for Havel's unerring refusal to idealize his main character or to damn his less principled acquaintances." A Private View "reminds us of the importance of the artist as provocateur," concluded Gussow. "Despite his victimization, Havel has retained his comic equilibrium and his sense of injustice. Confronted by public and private absurdities, the artist clings to first principles: self-respect and an unquenchable morality."

In the award-winning Largo Desolato, Havel "has once again attempted to transmute the nightmare of totalitarian repression into bleak comedy of high linguistic absurdity," Frank Rich maintained in the New York Times. The protagonist, dissident writer Leopold Kopriva, is tormented both by government thugs who watch over and interrogate him and an assortment of friends, fans, and well-wishers who continually remind him of their expectations for him. But while Largo Desolato deals with issues of the artistic conscience, it is also a comedy; Irving Wardle of the London Times, in his review of the Tom Stoppard translation, praised the play as "a wonderfully comic and unself-pitying piece of work: a notable instance of how adversity can sharpen the power of irony."

Havel also brings an ironic edge to Temptation, which transports the legend of Faust into a modern totalitarian society. Havel's Dr. Foustka is an institute scientist whose forbidden studies conjure the appearance of Fistula, a being who grants the doctor the ability to get ahead with the bureaucracy and with women. When Foustka's study is discovered, however, he begins a chain of deception that leads to a surprising twist. As with Havel's previous work, proposed Rich, in Temptation "even simple words (starting with 'morality') are inverted in meaning by a state that demands intellectual conformity and that governs by fear. It's Mr. Havel's incredible gift," Rich continued, that "he spins out the nightmare of repression in intricate verbal comedy to match that of Tom Stoppard." Nightingale likewise praised the playwright's verbal skill: "It says much for Havel's passion and skill that his satiric updating of the Faust legend remains so eloquent," the critic wrote, describing Temptation as "a study of the moral convolutions of the dissident in a corrupt society." "As in Havel's early work," concluded Wardle, "the shape is indestructibly elegant, full of ironic echoes and balanced repetitions which become funnier with every recurrence; and in which all the allegorical elements are progressively sharpened to a political cutting edge."

Although Havel's works involve bureaucratic situations and contain a political edge, there is a universality to his plays, according to critics. As Wardle commented, in such works as Largo Desolato "the brilliance of the piece is that it extends beyond its own country to the civil rights public at large." And because his plays deal with the dehumanization of man within the increasing mechanization of society, Havel has also been labeled an absurdist and, in fact, credited with bringing the absurdist method to Czechoslovakia. However, Grossman considered Havel's drama not absurd but "appellative": "His plays are inventive, artificial; but this quality has nothing to do with romantic fantasies or … unbridled insanity." The critic elaborated: "Havel's artificial structuring of the world is made up of real, even commonplace and banal, components, joined most reasonably into a whole."

Thus grounded in reality, Havel's plays remain decidedly allegorical; the protagonist of a Havel play is political bureaucracy itself, or a mechanism of bureau-cracy which controls not only the characters, but also the plot and action of the play. For Havel, Grossman maintained, the mechanization of man is not just a theme, "but the central subject, from which his technique derived and on which it is focused." As a Times Literary Supplement reviewer similarly observed: "In his preoccupation with the logical and the illogical Havel is a second Lewis Carroll, except that many people in Prague who saw his plays came out laughing 'with a chill up their spine.' His theatre could be the theatre of the absurd but it is not: his central theme is mechanization and what it makes a man, but mechanization is a gimmick rather than an inescapable factor in progress (as Capek might have seen it). It is clear that Havel's master in ideas was Kafka and in expression Ionesco," the critic concluded. "His is something of a genius whose promise is even greater than his performance."

In 1975 Havel's adaptation of British playwright John Gay's The Beggar's Opera eluded censors for one memorable performance. Havel used the play to lambaste the communist regime, and the work brought down the wrath of authorities on the Czech playwright, forcing him out of the theater. In 2003 an English translation of Havel's version of The Beggar's Opera saw a stage revival in London and in book form. It differs from Gay's version in that Havel adopts a colloquial style, a comic tone, and includes original subplots that satirize collectivism and the loss of individuality under communism. As Ming-Ming Shen Kuo of Library Journal noted, even in the English version, the "political overtones remain sharp." Ian Shuttleworth of the Financial Times maintained that the work "brilliantly succeeds in being an indictment of the labyrinthine strategies of deception and the informant networks of the Communist state." Although the Czech people no longer suffer under communist rule, the play can be "read equally in a contemporary context of 'spin,'" Shuttle-worth continued, "where everyone is repeatedly trying to justify even to themselves the unjustifiable, and self-interest is served by selling oneself out to the big boys. Goodbye dictatorship of the proletariat, hello global market."

Although he has been acclaimed for his dramatic works, Havel is also known for his development as a political philosopher; Toronto Globe and Mail contributor Peter C. Newman, for instance, called the writer "the most influential theorist on the nature of totalitarianism and dissent." During his censorship by the Czech government, Havel's ideas were often spread underground, and while in prison many of them found their way out in the form of Havel's letters to his wife. Published as Letters to Olga, these correspondences provide "a rare opportunity for meditation that has been all too rare in the life of a profound philosopher," Roger Scruton remarked in the London Times. Similarly, Disturbing the Peace: A Conversation with Karel Hvizdala provides Havel with an opportunity to "provoke, enchant and illuminate," as Cameron Smith asserted in the Toronto Globe and Mail. This series of tape-recorded interviews from 1985 "is an excursion into humanity's great themes, as Havel himself encountered them—life, death, God, art, freedom, responsibility, courage, fear—by one of the grand figures of our time."

In Disturbing the Peace Havel notes the following of his country: "The idea that a writer is the conscience of his nation has its own logic and its own tradition here. For years, writers have stood in for politicians: they were renewers of the national community, maintainers of the national language, interpreters of the national will. This tradition has continued under totalitarian conditions, where it gains its own special coloring: the written word seems to have acquired a kind of heightened radioactivity—otherwise they wouldn't lock us up for it!" This tradition notwithstanding, Havel was frequently quoted as saying that he would rather be a playwright than a statesman.

Just as his plays "don't simply shrug and walk away" and "say that people and societies do have to make choices," as Los Angeles Times writer Dan Sullivan observed, throughout his life Havel has complied with what he has seen as his duty. As he was quoted by Henry Kamm in the New York Times: "I have repeatedly said my occupation is writer…. I have no political ambitions. I don't feel myself to be a professional politician. But I have always placed the public interest above my own…. And if, God help us, the situation develops in such a way that the only service that I could render my country would be to [accept public office], then of course I would do it." These circumstances arose during Czechoslovakia's political upheaval in 1989, when Havel emerged as the leader of the opposition to the Communist government. In a unanimous vote by Czechoslovakia's parliament, Havel was chosen to serve as president, and when free elections were held the following year he was reaffirmed as his country's leader.

The volume Open Letters collects various writings that showcase Havel's eloquence as a statesman, ranging from his first words of protest in 1965 to what Irving Howe in the New York Times Book Review called his "soberly triumphant" inaugural address of 1990. Hav-el's essays, noted Tony Judt in the Times Literary Supplement, "show a complex political and moral sensibility. They are written with wonderful clarity and directness; whatever posterity will say of Havel's plays, there can be no doubt that, as an author, he has a rare gift for metaphor and example." Summer Meditations, which includes writings from Havel's early years in public office, focuses mainly on the issue of morality in politics. Havel, commented Steven Lukes in the Times Literary Supplement, uses words "for uplift and exhortation: the President as Preacher. They are, needless to say, meditations far more articulate and intelligent than any other current world statesman is likely to produce." As quoted by Lukes, Havel writes that "politics is not essentially a disreputable business; and to the extent that it is, it is only disreputable people who make it so."

In 1997 Havel released The Art of the Impossible: Politics As Morality in Practice, a collection of speeches delivered between 1990 and 1996 as president first of Czechoslovakia and then the Czech Republic. George Stephanopoulos in the Los Angeles Times Book Review observed that these speeches address all the relevant questions facing modern European politics—NATO's future, European integration, East-West relations, as well as globalization—but "more interesting, and lasting, are Havel's meditations on the timeless questions of politics and philosophy: What is the nature of civic responsibility? When do the ends justify the means in state-craft? Can intellectuals serve with integrity in the political arena? Is it possible for people who hold political power to 'live in truth' and approach the ideal of 'politics as morality in practice?'" Noting the Czech president's silence regarding certain government policies in these speeches, Douglas A. Sylva in the New York Times Book Review pointed out that Havel "cares much more about what his people think and feel than how they should resolve specific political questions."

Critical reception to The Art of the Impossible called attention to the uniqueness Havel demonstrated in his role as president. Jean Bethke Elshtain, writing in Commonweal, saw Havel as struggling with the dichotomy of being both an intellectual and a politician as well as demonstrating a great concern for morality in politics: "Havel's great fear is that relinquishing a politics of high morality often leads to a politics of brute instrumentality; thus, he rejects politics that is simply 'the art of the possible.'" Preston Jones in First Things considered Havel's references to a transcendent force distinctive: "Yet that he speaks about such things openly, and not merely for political reasons, sets him apart from the great majority of the industrialized world's public officials." Stephanopoulos found that Havel's "words are a sorely needed antidote to the grandiosity that infects so many who practice politics and the apathy that characterizes so many who live in our society but ignore the duties of citizenship."

After losing in the Czech Republic's parliamentary elections in 2003, Havel and his second wife, Czech actress Dagmar Veskrnova, retired to their home in the seaside town of Algarve, where he planned to write his memoirs.



Contemporary Literary Criticism, Thomson Gale, (Detroit, MI), Volume 25, 1983, Volume 58, 1990, Volume 65, 1991.

Czech Literature since 1956: A Symposium, edited by William E. Harkins and Paul I. Trensky, Bohemica (New York, NY), 1980, pp. 103-118.

Drama Criticism, Volume 6, Thomson Gale, (Detroit, MI) 1996.

Esslin, Martin, The Theatre of the Absurd, revised edition, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1969.

Esslin, Martin, Reflections: Essays on Modern Theatre, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1969.

Goetz-Stankiewicz, Marketa, The Silenced Theatre: Czech Playwrights without a Stage, University of Toronto Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1979.

Goetz-Stankiewicz, Marketa, and Phyllis Careys, editors, Critical Essays on Vaclav Havel, Hall (New York, NY), 1999.

Havel, Vaclav, Disturbing the Peace: A Conversation with Karel Hvizdala, translation by Paul Wilson, Knopf (New York, NY), 1990.

Havel, Vaclav, Summer Meditations, translation by Paul Wilson, Knopf (New York, NY), 1992.

Keane, John, Vaclav Havel: A Political Tragedy in Six Acts, Bloomsbury Press (London, England), 1999.

Kriseova, Eda, Vaclav Havel: The Authorized Biography, translation by Caleb Crain, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1993.

Labyrinth of the Word: Truth and Representation in Czech Literature, Oldenbourg (Munich, Germany), 1995, pp. 144-157.

Matustik, Martin J., Postnational Identity: Critical Theory and Existential Philosophy in Habemas, Kierkegaard, and Havel, Guilford (New York, NY), 1993.

Simmons, Michael, The Reluctant President: The Political Life of Vaclav Havel, Methuen (London, England), 1991.

Symynkywicz, Jeffrey, Vaclav Havel and the Velvet Revolution, Dillon Press (New York, NY), 1995.

Twentieth-Century European Drama, edited by Brian Docherty, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1994, pp. 172-182.

Vladislav, Jan, editor, Vaclav Havel; or, Living in Truth, Faber & Faber (London, England), 1987.


Back Stage, June 18, 1999, Karl Levett, review of Largo Desolato, p. 56.

Booklist, June 1, 2001, Jack Helbig, review of The Beggar's Opera, p. 1825.

Chicago Tribune, December 30, 1989; February 22, 1990.

Christianity and Literature, fall, 1994, Phyllis Carey, "Face to Face: Samuel Beckett and Vaclav Havel," pp. 43-57.

Commonweal, October 24, 1997, Jean Bethke Elshtain, "Philosopher President," pp. 23-24.

Cross Currents, Volume 10, 1991, Marketa Goetz-Stankiewicz, "Shall We Dance? Reflections on Vaclav Havel's Plays," pp. 213-222; summer, 1992, Phyllis Carey, "Living the Lies: Vaclav Havel's Drama," pp. 200-211; fall, 1997, Walter H. Capps, "Interpreting Vaclav Havel," pp. 301-316.

Cue, December 13, 1969.

Czechoslovak and Central European Journal, winter, 1991, Paul I. Trensky, "Vaclav Havel's 'Temptation Cycle,'" pp. 84-95.

Essays in Theatre, May, 1992, Michael L. Quinn, "Delirious Subjectivity: Four Scenes from Havel," pp. 117-132.

Financial Times, January 21, 2003, Ian Shuttleworth, "New Spin on Havel's Old Satire Theatre The Beggar's Opera," p. 15.

First Things, December, 1998, p. 61.

Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), April 30, 1988; October 28, 1989; December 30, 1989; January 6, 1990; June 23, 1990.

Humanist, May-June, 1994, p. 40; November-December, 1994, p. 39.

Insight on the News, August 8, 1994, p. 37.

Kenyon Review, spring, 1993, Robert Skloot, "Vaclav Havel: The Once and Future Playwright," pp. 223-231.

Library Journal, May 15, 2001, Ming-Ming Shen Kuo, review of The Beggar's Opera, p. 124.

Los Angeles Times, February 15, 1989; February 22, 1989; December 4, 1989; December 10, 1989; December 17, 1989; January 13, 1990; February 23, 1990.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, April 3, 1988; June 29, 1997, p. 11.

Maclean's, August 17, 1998, p. 52.

Modern Drama, March, 1984, M.C. Bradbrook, "Vaclav Havel's Second Wind," pp. 124-132; winter, 1997, Jude R. Meche, "Female Victims and the Male Protagonist in Vaclav Havel's Drama," pp. 468-476.

Nation, May 27, 1968; December 22, 1969.

New Statesman, July 22, 1994, p. 32.

Newsweek, July 18, 1994, p. 66.

New Yorker, May 18, 1968; February 17, 2003, David Remnick, "Exit Havel," p. 90.

New York Review of Books, August 4, 1977; March 22, 1979; August 15, 1991, Dana Emigerova and Lubos Beniak, "'Uncertain Strength': An Interview with Vaclav Havel," pp. 6, 8; September 24, 1992, George F. Kennan, review of Summer Mediations, pp. 3-4.

New York Times, May 6, 1968; October 22, 1969; December 5, 1969; December 14, 1969; November 20, 1983; November 21, 1983; March 23, 1986; March 26, 1986; March 31, 1988; February 5, 1989; April 9, 1989; December 8, 1989; December 17, 1989; December 18, 1989; December 23, 1989; December 30, 1989; January 12, 1990; January 13, 1990; June 27, 1990; May 26, 1991, Irving Howe, review of Open Letters, p. 5.

New York Times Book Review, May 8, 1988; May 26, 1991; June 7, 1992; August 3, 1997, p. 17; October 11, 1998, review of The Art of the Impossible, p. 32.

New York Times Magazine, October 25, 1987.

Observer Review, December 17, 1967.

Plays and Players, August, 1971.

Progressive, April, 1993, Erwin Knoll, review of Open Letters, Summer Meditations, and Living in Truth, pp. 40-43.

Prompt, number 12, 1968.

Representations summer, 1993, Martin Prochazka, "Prisoner's Predicament: Public Privacy in Havel's Letters to Olga," pp. 126-154.

Sewanee Review, spring, 1992.

Slavic and East European Journal, spring, 1969, Paul I. Trensky, "Vaclav Havel and the Language of the Absurd," pp. 42-65.

Slavic and East European Performance, spring, 1992, M. Quinn, review of Largo Desolato, pp. 8-12; spring, 1996, Jarka Burian, "Vaclav Havel's Notable Encounters in His Early Theatrical Career," pp. 13-29.

Slavic Review, summer, 1992, Alfred Thomas, reviews of The Vanek Plays and Living in Truth, pp. 348-351.

Style, summer, 1991, Veronika Ambros, "Fictional World and Dramatic Text: Vaclav Havel's Descent and Ascent," pp. 310-319.

Thought, September, 1991, Phyllis Carey, "Contemporary World Drama 101: Vaclav Havel," pp. 317-328.

Time, June 14, 1968; July 25, 1969.

Times (London, England), October 15, 1986; February 12, 1987; May 2, 1987; April 27, 1988; February 29, 1989; March 4, 1989; February 17, 1990; March 7, 1990; June 8, 1990.

Times Literary Supplement, March 7, 1968; March 10, 1972; October 21, 1991; September 25, 1992.

Tulane Drama Review, spring, 1967.

Variety, December 17, 1969.

Washington Post, August 26, 1988; February 22, 1989; May 15, 1989; October 27, 1989; January 7, 1990; January 9, 1990; March 4, 1990.

Washington Post Book World, June 14, 1992.

World and I, August, 2001, Lesley Chamberlain, "Play It Again, Vaclav: The Wisdom of Havel's Plays," p. 76.

World Literature Today, summer, 1981, Marketa Goetz-Stankiewicz, "Vaclav Havel: A Writer for Today's Season," pp. 389-393; spring, 1991, Karen von Kunes, "The National Paradox: Czech Literature and the Gentle Revolution," pp. 327-240.

About this article

Havel, Vaclav 1936–

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article