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Letters to Olga: June 1979 to September 1982

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  220 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Vaclav Havel is one of the most important European writers of our time. In 1979 he was sentenced to four and a half years of hard labour for his involvement in the Czech human rights movement, Charter 77. In prison he was allowed to write to his wife, Olga, once a week. He used the opportunity for profound reflections, on theatre, society and philosophy. These letters form ...more
Published February 19th 1990 by Faber Faber (first published 1983)
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Michael Scott
Apr 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I reached this book while pursuing two related topical lines: books about real-world Communist dystopias and books written by revolutionaries (dissidents). Scrisori catre Olga is a collection of letters written by Vaclav Havel to his wife Olga Havlová during 1979-1982, while he was imprisoned in various Czechoslovakian prisons. Overall, this is a rare glimpse into the personal life of the otherwise introverted Vasek.

The book presents a selection of over 140 letters, selected by the editors (by w
Feb 01, 2015 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
تجربه ای باارزش بی مانند ب وجود آمده. آموخته ایم ک به رخدادهای عظیم تاریخ جهان از پایین، از دید رانده شدگان، مظنونها، آنها ک مورد بدرفتاری قرار گرفته اند، ضعفا، ستمدیده ها، آنها ک مورد اهانت قرار گرفته اند؛ و خلاصه از دید آنهایی ک رنج می برند... نگاه کنیم. باید یاد بگیریم ک برای کاویدن جهان، در اندیشه و در عمل، رنج انسان ها کاراتر و ثمربخش تر از کامیابی آنهاست.
این دید از پایین نباید ملک مطلق آنهایی باشد ک دائما ناراضی اند؛ بلکه باید با خشنودی عدالت را، ک بنیاد آن ورای هر چون و چرایی درباره بالا
Vaclav Havel's website is

Václav Havel grew up in a well-known entrepreneurial and intellectual family, which was closely linked to the cultural and political events in Czechoslovakia from the 1920's to the 1940's. Because of these links the communists did not allow Havel to study formally after having completed required schooling in 1951. In the first part of the 1950's, a young Václav Havel entered into a four-year apprenticeship as a chemical laboratory
Oct 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an amazing book. When Vaclav Havel was jailed by the communist authorities in Czechoslovakia he wrote these letters to his wife Olga. They are fascinating. Towards the end the letters are longer and go deeply into Vaclav's political philosophy. But throughout the reader gets a deep feel for Vaclav's personality and his relationship with Olga. I mean, I can't wait until my husband writes me a letter from jail about his hemorrhoids or about the sexual dream he had about a mutual friend of ...more
Eduardo Santiago
Mar 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Eduardo by: Sophie
There’s an uncomfortable amount of serendipity in my life right now; this is just one example. Details are unimportant but suffice (it ;-) to say that this book made it to me through a long chain of highly improbable events. Had any of those events not taken place, my life would be much poorer now. I'm in a mood right now of deep appreciation for the workings of the Universe. Some musing on the countless chains that never saw completion, some wondering on what those might have brought... but by ...more
Rézina Dějová
Tohle je moc těžké. Moc jsem chtěla, aby se mi Dopisy líbily, ale přese všechno snahu a sebezapírání to prostě nešlo. Je to strašná nuda a dopisy podle mě neměly být určeny ke knižnímu vydání.

Ostatně, sám Havel píše
Přečetl jsem si po sobě, co jsem včera napsal, a zjistil jsem, že dopisy tohoto druhu mi v mé pozůstalosti žádnou slávu dělat nebudou.

Pokud vynechám srozumitelnější pasáže týkající se praktických věcí, jsou Havlovy úvahy repetitivní, nesrozumitelné a vzhledem k tomu, že velká čás
Burinschi Emil
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Prin scrisorile sale, Havel caută să construiască ideea Orizontului Existenței și conturarea respectiv a existenței omului în baza responsabilității, conștiinții și altor valori morale, în timpul perioadei de prizoneriat politic.

Un mic pasaj întru a vă tenta în a citi această culegere:

"Acest proces de "a se împăca cu sensul" este cea mai complexă, cea mai obscură, și în același timp, cea mai importantă experiență fizico-existențialistă prin care poate trece o persoană în decursul vieții."
Jan 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading "Letters to Olga," written when Václav Havel was in prison. It's a combination of banal writing and pretty deep thoughts on faith, meaning, and Being. In particular, I like how Havel describes faith as creating its object; meaning becoming evident as you put concepts in context; and Being on the "absolute horizon." His valedictions are alternately touching and witty, from "Kisses," and "Your faithful, lifelong traveler --" to "Your apparent recluse," and "I’m not dead yet, just ...more
Dec 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-collection
I read this book while studying in the Czech Republic, where Havel eventually rose to the presidency in the early 1990s. This book,composed of a series of letters to his wife while serving time as a political prisoner, reads more like philosophical treatise than anything else. Couched between admonishments for failing to write to him and reminders to take care of certain domestic issues that Havel feels are being neglected while he is away, one can find really interesting discussions of one pers ...more
Martha Atwell
Jan 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Havel is one of my heroes and these letters present the softer side of one of the greatest leaders in modern times.
Letters written by Havel during his many periods of imprisonment. Extensive analysis of himself, but also deep reflections on people and society. Very humanistic image
Ana-Maria Bujor
This is a series of letters Vaclav Havel wrote while in prison for his anti-communist activities and it's an interesting mixture of philosophy, descriptions of life in jail and logistical issues. The biographic parts I found to be quite interesting, just like the fact that many of these letters passed censorship, even though one may read quite a lot between the lines. The letters also reveal quite a bit about the personality of a man who is now almost mythical, but who actually had a few flaws a ...more
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'Must read' visiem, kam ir attiecības un visiem, kas kādreiz tādās gribētu būt. Havela cietumā sievai rakstītās vēstules liek uz mūsdienu problēmu - konstanto un nepārtraukto kontaktu ar citiem - paskatīties no pavisam citas perspektīvas. Grāmatā ir tikai Havela rakstītais, bet ne Olgas atbildes, kas to visu padara tikai interesantāku. Cannot recommend enough. (but maybe it's just me)
Ken Dachi
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Tough philosophical content that requires very patient reading.
Dec 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Přiznám se, že tohle Havlovo dílo jsem četl pro účely připravované vzpomínkové piety Václava Havla na Vsetíně. Přesto mě zaujal jeho styl, nálehavost a jeho nadčasovost. Ještě více si uvědomuji, že právě tahle práce bude nejvíce čtena až zase bude ohrožována demokracie a morálního hodnoty, neboť lidé nemají potřebu se k těmto textům vracet, když není ohrožována jejich osobní svoboda.

96) 3. 10. 1981
Milá Olgo,
v posledních letech jsem poznal několik inteligentních a slušných lidí, které jejich
Oct 01, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
This one might be "abandoned for now" rather than forever, due to library due dates.

I'm half Czech, but know next to nothing about the country from which my mother's family came. Letters to Olga is a collection of letters Havel wrote to his wife while imprisoned for his human rights activities. Havel later became president of Czechoslovakia. Abandoned on page 35 (for now?).
Dionis Cenusa
Feb 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book shows interesting facts about Havel's personal life, in parallel with his political striving against the totalitarian regime. I recommend the books for lovers of biographies of great political personalities.
Feb 09, 2013 rated it liked it
I found much of Havel's writing to be interesting philosophies on life, culture, theatre, etc. Clearly his state of mind evolved over this period of time and his writing reflects this change in priorities and his relationship with his wife Olga who was his contact to the outside.
Apr 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Letters from prison are my favourites!
Mar 26, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russian, literature
Czech actually, but written while under Soviet domination so I group it on my Russian shelf.
Nov 01, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
My favorite part is after a long letter of esoteric ramblings about worldview and ideology he ends with "If the BeeGees have a new album out you must buy it!"
Love it.
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Václav Havel was a Czech playwright, essayist, poet, dissident and politician. He was the tenth and last President of Czechoslovakia (1989–92) and the first President of the Czech Republic (1993–2003). He wrote over twenty plays and numerous non-fiction works, translated internationally. He received the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Philadelphia Liberty Medal, the Order of Canada, the free ...more

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