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The Garden Party and Other Plays

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  411 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
Gathered together here for the first time are seven plays that span Havel's career from his early days at the Theater of the Balustrade through the Prague Spring, Charter 77, and the repeated imprisonments that made Havel's name into a rallying cry and propelled him to the leadership of his country. They include The Garden Party, The Increased Difficulty of Concentration, ...more
Paperback, 273 pages
Published January 18th 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1994)
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Nov 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A book that was given to me as a present by one of dearest mentors in high school, my public speaking coach who wrote a dedication on the first page saying "It's time to stop fooling myself: smart books belong with smart people." So, taking my mentor's word for it, I assumed that this would be a smart book (one which a smart person like myself could handle) and I embarked on a voyage that took me along unexpected paths, surprise twists and turns, all the while, keeping the Northern Star in sight ...more
Started for this book group.

All unquestionably interesting as historical artefacts, as drama some of Vaclav Havel's plays have aged better than others. In general, Theatre of the Absurd appears very unfashionable at the moment and it's a rare sighting except at large festivals like Edinburgh.

Reading these plays outside academia, there are few resources: the odd article on Havel, occasional reviews of performances, but films or detailed commentary are absent. This edition has no introduction nor
Oct 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: classic-plays
I didn't like this book of plays until I understood something after the last play. That is, suffering is not a normal thing. It takes a person or entity to subject someone to it. Vaclav Havel was a revolutionary of sorts and his suffering did not go in vain. His plays reflect a kind of catharsis of reasonable rational behavior to an insufferable enemy. The pain inflicted on the Eastern block countries was a human tragedy. No less than Hitler's Germany and the sufferings of the Israelites in Baby ...more
Nov 20, 2007 rated it liked it
I found the earlier two plays (The Garden Party and The Memorandum) boring at best and incomprehensible at worst; however, I'm glad I stuck with it, as The Increased Difficulty of Concentration was good, and the loosely-connected trilogy of Audience / Unveiling / Protest were really brilliant. I suspect I might have enjoyed these more if I had a better understanding of the political context and subtleties.
Jan 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
I kinda devoured this. I forget how much I enjoy reading plays, and Havel has a sharp wit and flair for dialogue. Good stuff. It's sort of a wonder he was able to pull off this kind of socially perceptive and critical work under the shadow of the Soviet regime. I guess that whole 'genius' tag is really appropriate here.
Sep 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Memorandum is my favorite. Havel's plays are delightfully absurd, and provide enormous insights into the Czech oppression under the Soviet Union. These plays span his entire career. I adore and respect Havel as a playwright, dissident, and politician, and these plays contribute to the complex tapestry of his life.
Susan Strickland
Apr 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
These plays are enjoyable and mostly humorous, save for the horrific "Mistake" and the oddly abstract "Increased Difficulty of Concentration." My favorite was "Unveiling," the reason I picked this volume up in the first place.
May 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Read The Garden Party and The Memorandum for my final paper in Grad School. Ended up only using hate Memorandum. LOVE that play. Would LOVE to see it revived. Garden Party was properly amusing, but The Memorandum captured my attention.
Jul 09, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010-books
If you're interested in the Czechoslovakia during the communist era, these plays are intriguing. I liked reading the artistic work of one of my favorite statesmen, but I still find it challenging to read plays.
Sep 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Havel's ability to find humor and satire in the simplest things (ie Memorandum) is delightful. His life story is so unique. How many playwrights got elected president of the country where they spent so many years as a dissident? Interesting man, interesting work.
Lia Woodland
Aug 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Oct 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Everyone should read some Havel.
Jesse Wolfe 5199
Aug 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I can't get enough of this.
Pam C
Jul 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
One of the most awesome books I've read.
A poignant, humorous critique of the absurdity of Communism and bureaucracy, and the hypocrisy of the middle class.
Sep 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: plays
Read The Garden Party for class.
Adam Šimice
Oct 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Žabinec bez brčka neusmažíš!
Jul 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Very good, very memorable.
Farsi Zabanam
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I was writing my high school senior thesis on Vaclav Havel, so I read this book. It's absolutely fantastic, in my opinion.
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Mark Woodland
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Zlatka Nguyen thi
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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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