Trim: 6½ x 9½
978-0-7391-4957-7 • Hardback • November 2011 • $114.00 • (£88.00)
978-0-7391-4959-1 • eBook • December 2011 • $102.50 • (£79.00)
Delia Popescu is assistant professor of political science at LeMoyne College in Syracuse.
Chapter One—The Choice to Write
Chapter Two—Post-totalitarianism: Havel's New Concept of Power
Chapter Three—The Bridge of Excuses: Unraveling Identity in Havel's Plays
Chapter Four—Between Modernity and Responsibility
Chapter Five—The Breakdown in Tradition: Anti-politics in Havel's Political Thought
Conclusion—The Dorian Gray Image of Modern Times
About the Author
Václav Havel remains among the most--some might say one of the few--appealing public intellectuals of the 20th century. Genial, witty, humane, and (mirabile dictu) politically successful, he deserves exactly the well-informed, lively treatment he receives here. Popescu (LeMoyne College) succinctly presents Havel's critique of modern life and his efforts in thought and action to counteract its toxins. While unhesitatingly preferring the regime of liberal democracy to those of totalitarianism and its flaccid, spiritless successor, "post-totalitarianism," Havel also saw what Tocqueville saw: even relatively decent modern societies tend toward lives of apathy and civic disengagement under the rule of impersonal bureaucracies. The administrative functionalism so admired by Hegel bespeaks not the rule of reason but the rule of rationalism--of reason made into a system of rules that overlook the personality of the human beings so ruled. Against this, Havel not only proposed but lived a life in which he built up Czech civil society, urging his fellow noncitizens to take personal responsibility for one another. While protestors in the Western democracies demanded participatory democracy, Havel worked for anticipatory democracy: "the civic spirit that defeated communism ... is also the proper foundation for successful democratic rebuilding" after post-totalitarianism collapses. Summing Up: Recommended.
— Choice Reviews
Popescu presents his political theory as fresh and relevant to the problems of political action that are endemic to modern political life. It is a welcome addition to a body of scholarship that is emerging around the legacy of Vaclav Havel and compels us to take seriously the political and philosophical contributions of antipolitics. This accessible volume should find a ready home on the shelves of philosophers and activists alike.
— Theory & Event
Delia Popescu has taken on a challenging task. Her intent is to provide a new interpretation of Havel as political philosopher. Her stated aim is to shine a new, clarifying, light on Havel’s concept of responsibility, which has become a diffuse notion....this courageous and intellectually passionate volume deserves our attention.
— Slavic Review