A Czech Dreambook: Dissent as an Everyday Experience | Free Word

20 February 2020
19:00 - 21:30

Presented by:
English PEN, Czech Centre London, and Karolinum Press


A discussion on the work of Ludvík Vaculík and writing dissent today.

It’s 1979 in Communist Czechoslovakia and the banned writer Ludvík Vaculík – whose anti-regime manifesto was used by the Soviet Union as a pretext for invading Czechoslovakia – has writer’s block. He begins to keep a diary ‘about things, people and events.’ The result is A Czech Dreambook, a unique mixture of diary, dream journal and outright fiction.

Join the Czech Centre London and English PEN as Gerald Turner, Vaculík’s translator, Daňa Horáková, former dissident writer, and Jonathan Bolton, author of Worlds of Dissent, discuss Vaculík’s compelling portrait of dissident life, literary testimony in times of oppression, and the role of women in dissent. Award-winning editor of Index on Censorship magazine Rachael Jolley will be chairing the conversation.


Books will be available to purchase on the night. Your ticket includes a free drink.

20 February 2020
19:00 - 21:30
£6 / £4

English PEN, Czech Centre London, and Karolinum Press


Jonathan Bolton

Jonathan Bolton is a Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, focusing on Czech literature, history, and culture. His book Worlds of Dissent: Charter 77, The Plastic People of the Universe, and Czech Culture under Communism (Harvard UP) is considered the definitive English history of Czech dissident culture.

Daňa Horáková

Daňa Horáková is a German-Czech journalist, writer, and a former Hamburg Minister of Culture. A signatory to Charter 77, she was part of the dissident circle around writer Ludvík Vaculík and playwright Václav Havel with whom she edited the samizdat book series Edice Expedice (Expedition Editions), illegally publishing the work of fellow dissidents. She married film director Pavel Juráčeek and was forced to leave Czechoslovakia in 1979, settling in Germany. In 2018 she received the Václav Benda Award for bravery in the fight against communism. Her memoir 36 m² or About Pavel will be published in March 2020.

Gerald Turner

Gerald Turner has been one of the leading translators of the Czech language since the early 1980s and has translated writers such as Václav Havel, Ivan Klíma, Milan Šimečka, and Patrik Ouředník. From 2004–2011 he was personal translator to the playwright and President of the Czech Republic Václav Havel.

Rachael Jolley

Rachael Jolley is the award-winning editor of Index on Censorship magazine, to which Ludvik Vaculik and Vaclav Havel regularly contributed, and editor-in-chief of Index on Censorship. She has written for newspapers and websites in the UK and internationally (including The Times, the Financial Times, The Telegraph, Irish Times, Big Issue, New Statesman and The Guardian). She has been editorial director at think tank British Future, managing editor for monthly magazine Business Traveller, and editor of Business Traveller Middle East. She was a judge at the Rory Peck journalism awards, regularly speaks at the Hay Festival, and has also spoken at the Prague Book Fair. She co-wrote the play Murdering The Truth (Greenwich Theatre). She is currently a visiting fellow in journalism at Sheffield University.



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