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When even Havel wrote verses

May 25, 2011


The literary evening of Václav Havel took place in the premises of the Montmartre Gallery on Wednesday 2nd June 2010 from 18:00 within the Václav Havel Library project Spring with 36ers.

The evening of Václav Havel is the last of five meetings with personalities and work of the most significant poets among the 36ers – an unofficial literary group born from initiative of Václav Havel in the 1950s. The poetic texts were read by the author himself together with his adolescent alter ego Jiří Suchý z Tábora. Martin C. Putna gave a literary-historical introduction.

Václav Havel is the poet of civilism and everydayness. Poet of cafés and embankments. Poet of unseen America. Poet almost suppressed by playwright, dissident, thinker and president. Poet who for all that survived.

The evening also introduced the Václav Havel Library Notebook 2/2010 composed of works of the 36ers published in Samizdat magazines' Interviews with the 36ers and Silver Wind. Among others, it contains Havel’s unknown texts from his earliest period, uncovered in the depths of Hrádeček.

The 36ers were truly the “First Gang,”which Václav Havel gathered around him when he and all the rest were seventeen years old. It was indeed “The Gang” –a quite exceptional bunch of teenagers with literary, political, and philosophical ambitions, who purposefully by-passed the literary, political, and philosophical streams of their time, the darkest Stalinist years. Václav Havel then actually does the same thing which he will do in the 1960s when trying to find the platform of independent creation and thinking across movements in the Tvář magazine.
And he does the same thing which he will do in the 1970s, when he organizes another community of independent personalities of culture, thoughts and politics – Charter 77. All things considered, he does the same thing which he will do in the 1990s when he will, despite the tendency to complete identification with politics in the party spirit, declare “apolitical politics” – politics, the bearers of which should be integral independent personalities, for whom political affiliation (if there is any) is secondary.
If for no other reason, it is instructive to read these earliest teen texts of Václav Havel and the members of his “First Gang” – his “Protocharter.”

(From the introduction of Martin C. Putna in Interviews with the 36ers, Silver Wind)

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