Václav Havel; Playwright, Dissident and President R.I.P.

You may ask what kind of republic I dream of. Let me reply: I dream of a republic independent, free, and democratic, of a republic economically prosperous and yet socially just; in short, of a humane republic that serves the individual and that therefore holds the hope that the individual will serve it in turn.

Václav Havel, 1990 New Year’s Day Inaugural Presidential Address

The Guardian has the longest obituary of the Czech dissident Charter 77 leader who, following the 1989 Velvet Revolution, became president. The obituary is seemingly comprehensive yet politically suspect in tone, somehow neglecting to mention that Havel was charged by the Czech Communist Party with being a “rabid opponent of socialism”. Ed West in The Telegraph says he was one of the few who could be described as a political and intellectual hero. Havel’s life demonstrates that really great political change is the art of the impossible.

Havel was serious but not solemn, as can be seen from the signature on Guido’s English language copy of Charter 77, published by Index on Censorship in May 1977. Incidentally, Guido got his copy at an auction held in the heart of The Guardian building




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