Václav Havel

Kieran Williams

Václav Havel

Kieran Williams

Distributed for Reaktion Books

224 pages | 25 halftones | 5 x 7 3/4
Paper $19.00 ISBN: 9781780236650 Published October 2016 For sale in North and South America only
Václav Havel claimed to want a quiet life dedicated to writing, but he lived exactly the opposite: as the most famous dissident—via his poetry, plays, and essays—in Czechoslovakia under Communist rule. This biography is the first to pay close attention to Havel’s beginnings as a poet, placing his later, more famous works in the context of his poetical beginnings. In doing so, Kieran Williams sheds new light on Havel’s formative years and the stylistic and philosophical influences that would come to shape one of the most famous Czech writers—and political leaders—of the twentieth century.
            Williams connects the plays for which Havel is best known to his earlier poetry as well as to his development as a writer of profound insight on the arts, his country’s social and political turmoil, and the modern condition at large. He also contextualizes Havel’s oeuvre within his dramatic private life and his ambivalence about being the scion of a patriotic and cosmopolitan Prague family. Reading Havel’s works in Czech alongside his voluminous correspondence, Williams produces a full, rounded picture of a figure of extraordinary artistic and political courage beset with inner paradoxes.                   
 
Contents
Note on the Text
Introduction
1. ‘Every Soul is a Certain Architecture’ (1936–52)
2. Poetry’s False Start (1952–7)
3. Intro to Theatre and Političnost (1957–69)
4. To Hrádeček and Dissent (1970–79)
5. From Trial to Castle (1979–89)
6. The Presidential Great Work (1990–2003)
7. Exiting (2003–11)
 
References
Select Bibliography
Acknowledgements
Photo Acknowledgments
 
Review Quotes
David Danaher, University of Wisconsin–Madison
“Williams has produced a vivid portrait of Havel as both human being and engaged intellectual. With a series of invaluable chapters tracing Havel’s intellectual development from childhood to old age, the book offers a biography of its subject like no other piece of scholarship has given us.”—David Danaher, University of Wisconsin–Madison
 
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