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Václav Havel
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Václav Havel

Václav Havel (IPA: ) (born October 5, 1936) is a Czech writer and dramatist. He was the last President of Czechoslovakia and the first President of the Czech Republic.

Havel was born in Prague. Following the Moscow-backed coup of 1948 he and his family were shunned for having been wealthy capitalists and pro-German collaborators (collaborants according to the Communist party daily Rudé Právo from February 23, 1989) and he had difficulties studying beyond the basic level, but took evening classes and studied briefly at the Czech Technical University (1957). After military service (1957-59) he worked as a stagehand in Prague (Theatre On the Balustrade) and studied drama by correspondence. His first publicly performed play was The Garden Party (1963). His best known play in the West is Largo Desolato. In 1964 he married Olga Splichalova.

Following the suppression of the Prague Spring in 1968 he was banned from the theatre and became more politically active. This culminated with the publication of the Charter 77 manifesto. His political activities cost him five years in prison. He became famous for his brilliant articulation of "Post-Totalitarianism" (See: The Power of the Powerless), a term used to describe the modern social and political order that enabled people to "live within a lie." A passionate supporter of nonviolent resistence, he was a leading figure in the Velvet Revolution of 1989. On December 29, 1989, as head of the Civic Forum, he was elected president by the Federal Assembly.

Missing image
Vaclav_Havel_CC.jpg
Vaclav Havel with the Order of Canada

After the free elections of 1990 he retained the presidency. Despite increasing tensions, Havel strongly supported the retention of the federation of the Czechs and the Slovaks during the breakup of Czechoslovakia, known as the Velvet Divorce. On July 3 1992 the federal parliament did not elect Havel - the only candidate for presidency - due to a missing support by Slovak MPs. After the Slovaks had issued their Declaration of Independence, he resigned as president on July 20.

When the Czech Republic was created he stood for election as president there on January 26, 1993, and won. Despite illness and three operations (He was strong smoker) (See his "Letters to Olga from prison" and his description of very strange above standard meals in prison) he was re-elected in 1998. One parliamentarian (Miroslav Sladek from SPR-RSČ - Sdružení pro republiku - republikánská strana československa) was in police custody just during czech president elections in 1998. This 1 vote determined the result of president elections. Vaclav Havel left office after his second term as Czech president ended on February 2, 2003; Václav Klaus, one of his greatest political opponents, was elected his successor on February 28, 2003.

Samuel Beckett's play Catastrophe is dedicated to him.

Havel's plays include:

  • The Garden Party (1963)
  • The Memorandum (1965)
  • The Increased Difficulty of Concentration (1968)
  • The Beggar's Opera (1975)
  • Audience (1978)
  • Private View (1978)
  • Protest (1978)
  • Largo desolato (1985)
  • Temptation (1986)
  • Redevelopment (1987)

Havel's books (In English) include:

  • Letters to Olga (1988)
  • Open Letters (1991)
  • Disturbing the Peace (1991)
  • The Power of the Powerless (1985)
  • The Art of the Impossible (1998)

External links

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Preceded by:
Marián Čalfa
(acting)
President of Czechoslovakia
1989–1992
Succeeded by:
Jan Stráský
(acting)
Preceded by:
(none)
President of the Czech Republic
1993–2003
Succeeded by:
Vladimír Špidla
(acting)

Template:End boxbg:Вацлав Хавел cs:Václav Havel de:Václav Havel et:Václav Havel es:Václav Havel eo:Václav HAVEL fr:Václav Havel he:ואצלב האוול nl:Václav Havel ja:ヴァーツラフ・ハヴェル no:Václav Havel pl:Václav Havel sk:Václav Havel fi:Václav Havel

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