Václav Havel

(1936-2011 / Prague)

Václav Havel Quotes

  • ''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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  • ''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).
  • ''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).
  • ''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).
  • ''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).
  • ''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).
  • ''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).
  • ''There are times when we must sink to the bottom of our misery to understand truth, just as we must descend to the bottom of a well to see the stars in broad daylight.''
    Václav Havel (b. 1936), Czech playwright, president. "The Power of the Powerless," pt. 1, sct. 16, Living in Truth (1986).

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