I’ve been reading the archives of the LRB lately, and uncovered this gem from Slavoj Zizek reviewing biographies of Czech intellectual and politician Vaclav Havel. Here’s a glimpse:
Rarely has one individual played so many different parts. The cocky young student in the early Fifties, member of a closed circle which holds passionate political discussions and somehow survives the worst years of the Stalinist terror. The Modernist playwright and critical essayist struggling to assert himself in the mild thaw of the late Fifties and Sixties. The first encounter with History – in the Prague Spring – which is also Havel’s first big disappointment. The long ordeal of the Seventies and most of the Eighties, when he is transformed from a critical playwright into a key political figure. The miracle of the Velvet Revolution, with Havel emerging as a skilful politician negotiating the transfer of power and ending up as President. Finally, there is Havel in the Nineties, the man who presided over the disintegration of Czechoslovakia and who is now the proponent of the full integration of the Czech Republic into Western economic and military structures. Havel himself has been shocked by the swiftness of the transformation – a TV camera famously caught his look of disbelief as he sat down to his first official dinner as President.
Read the rest here.