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Author of the radical 2000 Words manifesto for writers during the Prague Spring of 1968, Ludvík Vaculík was banned from all official publishing after the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in the decades until the fall of communism with the Velvet Revolution of 1989. However, as founding editor of the Padlock Editions comprising hundreds of informally circulated typescripts of banned texts, he was central to maintaining independent writing and ideas in the Czech language. This pioneering collection of witty and ironical short essays in the classic Czech genre known as feuilletons, or chronicles, show Vaculík’s philosophy, honesty and humor.
“He is the night watchman at a temporarily shut-down enterprise whose product is the national soul.”
Los Angeles Times
After the Velvet Revolution confirmed his importance as an independent thinker and cultural figure, Vaculík continued his refusal to subscribe to accepted conventions. “Democracy has made me a poor democrat”, he wrote of the new Czech age of consumer culture, media sound bites and public relations.
At his death in 2015 he chose an appropriate motto for his tombstone in the country village he always called home: “I was here and maybe I shall return”.