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T. G. Masaryk and Josef Svatopluk Machar: Correspondence

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  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: September 21, 2017, 19:00 – 21:00

In September 2013 Petr Kotyk succeeded in securing a valuable acquisition for the Literary Archive of the Memorial of National Literature in the form of almost 500 letters written by Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk to Josef Svatopluk Machar between 1893 and 1932, along with a significantly smaller amount of correspondence from Machar’s family members (his wife Hedvika and daughters Sylva and Jiřina). The collection is primarily valuable as a supplement to 300 letters from J.S. Machar from the period 1893–1913 held in the T.G. Masaryk collection at the Literary Archive, so creating a whole that has no parallel in the Masaryk correspondence published to date.

Editors Helena Kokešová, Petr Kotyk and Irena Kraitlová will present the first volume in a series of correspondence between Masaryk and Machar, containing 183 letters written in the years 1893 to 1895. The authors of an extensive introductory study entitled Scepticism and Hope, Vratislav Doubek and Lucie Merhautová, will discuss the shaping of the bases of reform modernism.

Helena Kokešová will moderate a debate on politicians, artists and scientists in the public sphere at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, an issue that is still topical today.

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Letters to Olga – essays written in prison, letter

„Once you’re here, however, whether you want to or not, you have to ask the question: does all of this have a meaning, and if so, what?… Ultimately, I can only find an answer – a positive answer – within myself, in my general faith in the meaning of things, in my hope. What, in fact, is man responsible to? What does he relate to? What is the final horizon of his actions, the absolute vanishing point of everything he does, the undeceivable “memory of Being”, the conscience of the world and the final “court of appeal”? What is the decisive standard of measurement, the background or the field of each of his existential experiences? And likewise, what is the most important witness or the secret sharer in his daily conversations with himself, the thing that – regardless of what situation he has been thrown into – he incessantly inquires after, depends upon, and toward which his actions are directed, the thing that, in its omniscience and incorruptibility, both haunts and saves him, the only thing he can trust in and strive for? “

Václav Havel:
Letters to Olga – essays written in prison, letter, August 7, 1980

Václav Havel’s Prague