Havel: A Life by Michael Zantovsky
In honor of his birth anniversary (yesterday, October 5) this week’s staff pick is a biography of Vaclav Havel by Michael Zantovsky. Havel is considered to be one of the most renowned and respected political figures of the twentieth-century. He was a dissident and activist for political freedom in communist Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic, and was eventually elected the country’s first non-communist president in forty years. As a writer who was both prolific and eloquent, Havel’s writings deal with truth, civil rights, and the dehumanizing effect that totalitarian regimes have on their citizens.
If you’ve never read or heard of Havel, here are some of his more famous quotes to help you become acquainted with him. Some are uplifting and some speak to harsh political truths, but all should give you pause.
“There are no exact guidelines. There are probably no guidelines at all. The only thing I can recommend at this stage is a sense of humor, an ability to see things in their ridiculous and absurd dimensions, to laugh at others and at ourselves, a sense of irony regarding everything that calls out for parody in this world.”
“Work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed.”
“The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human meekness and human responsibility.”
“I really do inhabit a system in which words are capable of shaking the entire structure of government, where words can prove mightier than ten military divisions.”
“When a truth is not given complete freedom, freedom is not complete.”
Thanks for reading!