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Book Cover for: The Dissident Politics in Václav Havel's Vanek Plays: Who Is Ferdinand Vanek Anyway?, Carol Strong

The Dissident Politics in Václav Havel's Vanek Plays: Who Is Ferdinand Vanek Anyway?

Carol Strong

The Dissident Politics in Václav Havel's Vaněk Plays: Who Is Ferdinand Vaněk Anyway focuses on Ferdinand Vaněk, a semi-autobiographical character created by Václav Havel and featured in a series of nine plays written by Havel himself and three other dissident writers - Pavel Kohout, Pavel Landovský, and Jiří Dienstbier. By exploring the 'Vaněk experience, ' Carol Strong details a multi-episodic, absurdist journey that provides an 'insider's view' of the challenges facing those daring enough to question the status quo, a view that remains relevant today. Strong's contention is that the lines found in these plays served as a 'secret language' of dissent in Cold War Czechoslovakia, which called the citizenry to contemplate the need for societal reform. As the plays were written at a time when the work of Havel and other dissidents were banned, the plays were never performed publicly, but through clandestine living room performances and the sharing of samizdat scripts the plays found an audience. Select phrases were indeed whispered throughout underground networks and helped forge a sense of oppositional solidarity among potential activists. Strong's argument is that the 'Vaněk experience' metaphorically highlights how official power mechanisms are among the least insidious forms of societal power, as the state must follow predictable patterns of legal jurisprudence. By contrast, non-governmental forms of power - as exercised by one's fellow citizens through informal social channels - can challenge oppositional actors more because of the personal tone they adopt. Using this approach, Strong presents a timelessly relevant critique of modern society with its consumerist / conformist tendencies.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Lexington Books
  • Publish Date: Sep 5th, 2023
  • Pages: 336
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 9.00in - 6.00in - 0.88in - 1.46lb
  • EAN: 9781793650207
  • Categories: Theater - GeneralHistory & Theory - General

About the Author

Carol Strong is professor of Political Science at the University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM).