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The Nineteen-Sixties, or (Not Just) a Spawning Ground for the Emergence of the Czech Underground – A Conference

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: October 17, 2017, 10:00 – 17:30

If Ivan Martin Jirous defined the Czech underground in February 1975 this could only happen because he was describing “something” that had already existed for some time. No community emerges out of thin air.

In reality it is necessary to go back a further 10 years, to a period when the neo-Stalinist regime underwent a gradual liberalisation that led to fundamental social and cultural changes. The emerging generation defined themselves in opposition to the establishment in a different way. Among the most visible, and loudest, of them was the literal explosion of rock bands and the (then) shocking fashion among young men for wearing long hair. Not just Western music, crossing the Iron Curtain via radio receivers, but literature and above all literature, in particular of the beatnik variety, left an indelible mark on the mentality of the young. Efforts to reform the domestic economy and outstanding achievements in the field of cinematography (the New Wave) took place against the backdrop of turbulent period internationally. These and other aspects of the 1960s will be the focus of a conference at which the speakers will include Petr Blažek, Barbora Bothová, Jan Blüml, Petr Kopal, Ladislav Kudrna, Josef Rauvolf, František Stárek Čuňas, Michal Stehlík and Martin Valenta.

Organised by the Václav Havel Library in cooperation with the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes.


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A Word about Words – samizdat essay

„Besides, to be wary of words and of the horrors that might slumber inconspicuously within them – isn’t this, after all, the true vocation of the intellectual? I recall that André Glucksmann once spoke in Prague about the need for intellectuals to emulate Cassandra: to listen carefully to the words of the powerful, to be watchful of them, to forewarn them of their danger, and to proclaim their dire implications or the evil they might invoke.“

Václav Havel:
A Word about Words – samizdat essay, July 25, 1989

The unbearable lightness of evilVáclav Havel’s Prague