Page count: 290 pages
Category: from English
Original price: 2900 Ft
Published to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Czechoslovakia’s liberation from communism in 1989, The Velvet Philosophers tells the remarkable story of the ‘underground university’, through which western academics, artists and intellectuals collaborated with those who sought to keep culture alive in a country where the Communist Party had tried to suppress it.
Those who took part in this extraordinary venture include some of the most famous names in contemporary culture: philosophers as diverse as Charles Taylor and Roger Scruton, Jacques Derrida and R.M. Hare; composers of international standing like David Matthews, Michael Berkeley, and Judith Weir; distinguished writers like Tom Stoppard, Carol Rumens and Piers Paul Read. Artists and critics, architects, historians and political scientists, all played a part, working in conditions of secrecy and under the constant threat of arrest, to bring knowledge, ideas and hope to their persecuted colleagues in one of the most repressive states behind the Iron Curtain.
This path-breaking study, written by the secretary to the Jan Hus Educational Foundation which initiated the enterprise, draws on archival material and secret police files, as well as interviews and published records, to describe what was probably the most successful and influential attempt ever made to rescue culture from the Communists.
Barbara Day writes regularly in Czech and British journals and newspapers, and is well-known as a translator of Czech theatre. She lives and Works in Prague.