The Hungarian translation of the book Havel: A life by Michael Žantovský is to release by HVG Publishing House on 28th November 2014. It is an honour to announce that the International Documentary Film Festival PAREVO 2.0 will present the book for the first time and the audience have the great opportunity to buy the book at the opening ceremony of the event. We shall note that the closing film of the documentary film festival is also connected to the legendary figure of the Czech anti-communist opposition, the first president of Czechoslovakia and later Czech Republic (Citizen Havel, directed by Pavel Koutecký and Miroslav Janek, 120 min, 2008). Welcome everybody!
About the book
The Velvet Revolution in Prague broke out 25 years ago on 17th November 1989. The significance of the revolution is fully recognized during the process of a -more or less – gentle and non-violent power transition in our region. Due to his charismatic personality, his chief position at Charter 77 and his unbroken faith in in the vulnerable, Václav Havel became a key figure in the success of the revolution.
Havel is considered the most outstanding figure of the 20th century: an iconoclastic intellectual, a well-known playwright who turned out to be an imprisoned political and human right activist. As the last president of Czechoslovakia, then the first president of Czech Republic, not only did he urge reconciliation within the frontiers but also he encouraged to build good relations with the neighbours.
“Those who were fighting sanguinary with revenge are now terrified of us. Although, they have nothing to be afraid of. We are not like them, we are different” – said once in a speech following the victory of the revolution.
Michael Žantovský was one of Havel’s closest friends, having met in the democratic opposition under Communism. During Havel’s early years in office Žantovský was his press secretary, advisor, and political director, and their friendship endured until Havel’s death in 2011. A rare witness to this most extraordinary life, Žantovský presents a revelatory portrait—up close and personal—of this giant among men and the turbulent times through which he prevailed Currently Žantovsky is the delegated ambassador of the British Royal Court in Czech Republic and he is the president of the Aspen Institute in Prague. Beside his political and external action service, he is a remarkable author and an active Czech translator of numerous contemporary British and American writers.
The Havel autobiography by Michael Žantovský has so far been the most comprehensive work on Havel’s career and life. Regardless all the contradictions around his fugure, Havel’s name cannot be eliminated from the list of the Czech national heroes. There’s no need to lower our register when determining his role, Havel -in a particular way – was a true hero of independence. If you are interested in the history of 20th century East-Central-Europe, the shaping of a close culture, it is an imperative for you to read this book.
György Varga literary translator , former ambassador of Prague
Many times president Havel and I discussed the Beneš decrees, which for the Czech meant exclusively the deployment of the Germans. I told to Havel that even we- the Hungarians- were deported in line with these decrees. He said this case was urgent and the resolution could not be delayed. He also appointed me to set up an expert committee that could manage to solve the problem in no time. What a character! When something clashed with his moral values, Havel did not hesitate to take actions. He told directly what he thought and dared to take steps.
Péter Hunčík, psychiatrist, Havel’s advisor 1990 – 1992
I first encountered with Havel forty years ago. I can remember his friendly smile, his deep murmuring voice and his special meditative sense of humour. In my eyes, he was a manifestation of perspicacious and liable European politics. It happened not only once that Havel and I signed a mutual statement and I trusted his judgement. An inner voice always reminded me “if he thinks it is the right way, then I must believe him”.
György Konrád writer, sociologist