Just over a year ago I wrote here about my admiration for Václav Havel so it will be no surprise that I was saddened by his death at the weekend. On my pile of books to read was “Letters to Olga” which Mr Amazon had only recently bought round on his bike. In 1979 Václav Havel was sentenced to four and a half years hard labour for his involvement in the human rights movement Charter 77. In prison he was only allowed to write one letter a week to his wife, Olga, and he used that chance to write on theatre, society and philosophy. I imagine it will be a different book from the one in the earlier post which covered his time as President of Czechoslovakia then the Czech Republic.
A friend posted the following on Facebook:
RIP Václav Havel, a politician for whom I had much respect, not least because of his literary achievements. In tribute, here is an anecdote illustrating his self-effacing character. If it’s not true, it ought to be. Council of Europe summit, 1997: Strasbourg is packed with diplomats and high-level politicians. Among them Václav Havel, who, during free time, eschews the company of his peers and goes for a walk around town. Evening comes, and Havel feels in need of a bite to eat. He goes into the nearest winstub [Alsatian restaurant] and asks for a table. “Ah, non, Monsieur,” says the patronne. “All tables are reserved for the heads of state.”
That fits with the personality which comes across in the book. Here is a piece from Spiegel featuring a quote from Milan Kundera.