Disturbing the Peace

Between 1985 and 1986, Václav Havel conducted a series of interviews with the Czech journalist Karel Hvížd’ala, who was living in West Germany at the time. In Czech, the resulting book was a kind of confessional autobiography, called Long-Distance Interrogation. The English translation was published in the spring of 1990, and called Disturbing the Peace.

“Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously headed for early success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed. The more unpromising the situation in which we demonstrate hope, the deeper that hope is. Hope is not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. In short, I think that the deepest and most important form of hope, the only one that can keep us above water and urge us to good works, and the only true source of the breathtaking dimension of the human spirit and its efforts, is something we get, as it were, from ‘elsewhere.’ It is also this hope, above all, that gives us the strength to live and continually to try new things, even in conditions that seem as hopeless as ours do, here and now.”

Václav Havel, Disturbing the Peace

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