Vaclav Havel Defines Hope


January 9, 2012

Marek Bennett

Marek Bennett at  Coffee + Dumplings + Komiks just put together a graphical treatment of an essay excerpt written by Vaclav Havel from prison. “The Politics of Hope” is the title of the essay.  Bennett’s treatment of the work made me concentrate on the words of Havel more carefully, especially the definition of hope and the idea of it being a state of mind entirely dependent on the will of the individual to feel the existence of hope.  The existence of hope has nothing to do with outcomes or the likelihood of a desired outcome.

As you read this, please imagine the great despair that the author must have felt – placed in a prison cell for speaking the truth to the tyrannical Czechoslovak government that he imagined to be so powerful, so unstoppable, especially with its support from the seemingly invincible USSR.  Still, Havel, the dissident continued to chip away at it.  In a few short years that man went from a jail cell, considered the lowliest of the low by almost anyone with authority and influence, to being president of his country.  He watched that oppressive, seemingly invincible regime crumble before his eyes.

It’s a great start to the new year while looking back on the work of the recently deceased Havel.  Fantastic, Marek. Thank you.

– Allan

Marek Bennett, a cartoonist and musician from New Hampshire, USA, leads arts-based creative programming with schools and community organizations for young artists of all ages.  He is currently drawing travel comics about his adventures in eastern Slovakia and posting them to his website Coffee + Dumpling + Komiks.

Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at He is from Chicago and spends most of his time travelling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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  • Thanks, Allan — I’m glad to hear of your reading experience with this comic. One note, though: Havel’s words in this piece come from his conversations in the 1980s with Karel Hvizdala, which I’m pretty sure happened outside prison, because they were recorded and transcribed and published as the book DISTURBING THE PEACE afterwards.
    Thanks for posting the link!
    — Marek

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