Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Special Anniversary

It's a special anniversary for Vaclav Havel, the eponym for my 'vaclav's hovel':

(the following is shamelessly stolen, in it's entirety, from the Writer's Almanac)

It was on this day in 1989 that playwright Václav Havel (books by this author) was elected president of Czechoslovakia, ending more than 40 years of Communist rule. Havel is the author of nearly 20 plays. His plays challenged the oppressive Communist regime, and for that he was blacklisted in 1969 and his plays were banned. He left Prague, moved to the country, got a job at a brewery, and continued writing plays and also political essays. He was in and out of jail, serving for about five years, and he wrote three major plays during the last years of Communist rule: Largo Desolato (1984), Temptation (1985), and Slum Clearance (1987).

In November of 1989, he helped establish the Civic Forum, which spearheaded the nonviolent resistance movement, and on this day in 1989, he was elected president. He served until 1992, when he resigned in the face of political tensions that split Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, a division that he opposed. In 1993, he was elected president of the Czech Republic, and he served for 10 years.

He said: "I understand, especially when one is looking at me from a distance, that I might seem as some kind of fairy-tale hero who banged his head against the wall until the wall fell, and then reigned. It makes me blush slightly, because I know my mistakes. On the other hand, I do not ridicule it because people need these kinds of stories."

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