Quotations From VÁCLAV HAVEL


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  • Even a purely moral act that has no hope of any immediate and visible political effect can gradually and indirectly, over time, gain in political significance.
    Václav Havel (b. 1936), Czechoslovakian playwright, president. Letter, August 1969, to Czechoslovakian leader Alexander Dubcek. Quoted by Havel, in Disturbing the Peace, ch. 3 (1986, trans. 1990).

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  • I really do inhabit a system in which words are capable of shaking the entire structure of government, where words can prove mightier than ten military divisions.
    Václav Havel (b. 1936), Czechoslovakian playwright, president. Speech, October 1989, Germany, accepting a peace prize. Quoted in Independent (London, December 9, 1989).
  • If you want to see your plays performed the way you wrote them, become President.
    Václav Havel (b. 1936), Czechoslovakian playwright, president. Address to Institute of Contemporary Arts, London. Quoted in Independent (London, March 24, 1990).
  • Just as the constant increase of entropy is the basic law of the universe, so it is the basic law of life to be ever more highly structured and to struggle against entropy.
    Václav Havel (b. 1936), Czech playwright, president. "Letter to Dr. Gustáv Husák," pt. 1, Living in Truth (1986).

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  • Modern man must descend the spiral of his own absurdity to the lowest point; only then can he look beyond it. It is obviously impossible to get around it, jump over it, or simply avoid it.
    Václav Havel (b. 1936), Czechoslovakian playwright, president. Disturbing the Peace, ch. 2 (1986, trans. 1990).
  • Anyone who takes himself too seriously always runs the risk of looking ridiculous; anyone who can consistently laugh at himself does not.
    Václav Havel (b. 1936), Czech playwright, president. Disturbing the Peace, ch. 2 (1986, trans. 1990).
  • None of us know all the potentialities that slumber in the spirit of the population, or all the ways in which that population can surprise us when there is the right interplay of events.
    Václav Havel (b. 1936), Czech playwright, president. Disturbing the Peace, ch. 3 (1986, trans. 1990).
  • Sometimes I wonder if suicides aren't in fact sad guardians of the meaning of life.
    Václav Havel (b. 1936), Czech playwright, president. Disturbing the Peace, ch. 5 (1986, trans. 1990).

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  • There's always something suspect about an intellectual on the winning side.
    Václav Havel (b. 1936), Czechosolvakian playwright, president. Disturbing the Peace, ch. 5 (1986, trans. 1990).
  • The truth is not simply what you think it is; it is also the circumstances in which it is said, and to whom, why, and how it is said.
    Václav Havel (b. 1936), Czech playwright, president. Disturbing the Peace, ch. 2 (1986, trans. 1990).

    Read more quotations about / on: truth
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