Vaclav Havel was a Czech writer and dissident who later became, after the Velvet Revolution of 1989, the President of his country. This episode #20 continues the The Burning Archive podcast’s commemoration of his writing, ideas and the model of his way of living in truth remains meaningful to us today. This episode looks at the essays, “The Power of the Powerless” (1978), “Six Asides about Culture” (1984), and “Politics and Conscience” (1984), the memoir, To the Castle and Back, and Havel’s work for a better world after leaving the Czech Presidency in 2003.
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Credits and material referred to during the show:
- Vaclav Havel, “The Power of the Powerless” (1978), “Six Asides about Culture” (1984), and “Politics and Conscience” (1984) in Vaclav Havel – Living in Truth (1986)
- Vaclav Havel To the Castle and Back
- There is a tremendous resource on Havel Khinikova at https://www.vaclavhavel.cz/ and the Vaclav Havel Library Foundation
- You can watch Havel’s New Year’s Address to the nation in 1990, days or weeks after he became President, here with English sub-titles.
- George Negus from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation does a rather cheesy interview with Havel during the early years of his presidency that is available on YouTube. The clip of a large crowd shaking their keys and cheering for Havel – a famous scene of the Velvet Revolution – comes from this video.
- Brief musical excerpt from The Plastic People of the Universe, Slavná nemesis (1979)
- The wonderful Kimiko Ishizaka and the Open Goldberg project, for the public domain recording of the Aria from J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations
- Ezra Pound reading from Canto 81.
Some other posts related to Vaclav Havel are:
- On living not by lies (February 2021)
- On the virtue of not knowing (2010, reposted in 2019)
- Our barren deformed political society (November 2020)
- Six asides about Vaclav Havel (September 2016)
- The Burning Archive Podcast #10 – The Parallel Polis and the Power of the Powerless (July 2021)
- The Burning Archive Podcast #19 – Vaclav Havel’s Letter to a Locked Down World (September 2021)
The image for this post shows Vaclav Havel, nominated for the Presidency, reading out the names of Czechoslovakia’s first non-communist Government since 1948 to a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people gathered on Sunday, Dec. 10, 1989 in Prague’s Wenceslas Square (AP).
I hope you enjoy my podcast and this blog. Let me know what you think about what it means for the history of our times – with comments here, via email@example.com, or on twitter @ArchiveBurning.