A close read of the rich collections of texts left behind by Václav Havel, one of the most important Czech thinkers and leaders of the twentieth century.
No one in Czech politics or culture could match the international stature of Václav Havel at the time of his death in 2011. In the years since his passing, his legacy has only grown, as developments in the Czech Republic and elsewhere around the world continue to show the importance of his work and writing against a range of political and social ills, from autocratic brutality to messianic populism.
This book looks squarely at the heart of Havel’s legacy: the rich corpus of texts he left behind. It analyzes the meanings of key concepts in Havel’s core vocabulary: truth, power, civilsociety, home, appeal, indifference, hotspot, theatre, prison, and responsibility. Where do these concepts appear in Havel’s oeuvre? What part do they play in his larger intellectual project? How might we understand Havel’s focus on these concepts as a centerpiece of his contribution to contemporary thought? How does Havel’s particular perspective on the meaning of these concepts speak to us in the here and now? The ten contributors use a variety of methodological tools to examine the meaning of these concepts, drawing on a diversity of disciplines: political science and political philosophy, historical and cultural analysis, discourse/textual analysis, and linguistic-corpus analysis.
David Danaher is professor of Slavic languages and literature at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Kieran Williams is assistant professor of political science at Drake University.
Jiří Přibáň is professor of law at Cardiff University.