Notes from underground: a look back at Czech samizdat

Czech dissident publications are put on display in New York, helping to bring a dark, courageous chapter of modern history back to life

Since the death of Václav Havel on Sunday, Czech television has been filled with scenes from the ‘60s through the ‘80s documenting the dissident movement the former president and playwright played such a prominent role in. At the Czech Center in New York City, a spotlight is shining on that same era of history in the exhibition Samizdat: The Czech Art of Resistance, 1968–1989.

Though the term “samizdat” refers to self-publishing it has nothing in common with the way that term is understood in free, democratic countries. Nor is samizdat an equivalent to Western ideas of underground publishing. During communism, dissidents in the Soviet Bloc had to rely on their own information distribution system, publishing censored books, journals and documents on their own and then passing out handmade copies.

Read the full article at Czech Position

Photos – 1) From Samizdat: The Czech Art of Resistance, 1968–1989 by Daniela Sneppova, 2) August Night (Srpnovánoc) by František Lazecký, Czech Editions, Inside art print, courtesy of Samizdat exh.

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Categories: Literary History


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