Canadian-born Don Sparling first spent time in Brno in 1969 and moved to the Moravian capital permanently eight years later. Sparling, who describes himself as a Brno patriot, taught at the city’s Masaryk University for over three decades and is known to many Czechs for the best-selling textbook English or Czenglish? Our tour of “his Brno” begins on the downtown square Moravské náměstí.
Sunday was the fifth anniversary of the death of Václav Havel, the Czech dissident who led the Velvet Revolution and went on to spend nearly 13 years as president. But before he became a politician, Havel was, of course, a playwright, and it is just his literary work that is the focus of the book Reading Václav Havel by David S. Danaher, a Slavic Studies expert at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. When he visited our studios recently, we discussed, among other things, Havel’s legacy and relevance today. But I first asked Danaher what had led
Last week the Václav Havel Library hosted the second of a series of interviews with people who knew and worked with Havel. This month’s guest was the Canadian Paul Wilson, who has translated much of Havel’s work and lived in Prague from 1967 to 1977. He witnessed the Soviet-led invasion, and in the years that followed he became part of the Czech underground music scene, until he was ultimately expelled from the country. Few people in the English-speaking world can claim to be as steeped in the life and culture of Czechoslovakia in the last two decades
Any history of Czechoslovakia’s dissident movement in the 1970s will include more than a passing reference to the writer, editor and translator Paul Wilson. Originally from Canada, he came to the country in 1967, then in his twenties, and he was to stay for ten years, eventually being expelled in 1977 for associating with dissidents and the underground music scene. Paul Wilson was back in Prague last month for the launch of a collection of his essays about this country over the last three decades. He spoke to David Vaughan.
Every year, the Czech Foreign Ministry presents Gratias Agit awards to those who have helped promote the good name of the Czech Republic abroad. Recipients include individuals and institutions from all over the world; this year, the list of laureates ranges from Marius Sczygiel, a Polish journalist, who published a best-selling book about the Czech Republic, to Pontifical College Nepomucenum, an educational institution for Czech clergy in the Vatican.
Vaclav Havel, one of contemporary central Europe's best-known intellectuals is 70 years old. He was born on October 5th, 1936. A week of honours and celebrations in Prague will continue in the Slovak capital, Bratislava, on Friday, and in November all of Vaclav Havel's plays will be staged in New York City.
Tom Stoppard, one of the greatest living playwrights, has written a new play called Rock 'n' Roll and it includes some serious Czech content. Set in two locations—Prague and Cambridge—the scenes shift from those taking place in Czechoslovakia between 1968 and 1989, to those in England which revolve around the family of an academic Marxist, Max Morrow. The connecting point is a Czech student studying at Cambridge, Jan, who falls in love with Max's daughter. Described as a tragicomic family saga intertwined with a political drama set in Normalization-era Czechoslovakia,