Beckett, Samuel. (1906–1989)

Catastrophe for Václav Havel

Broadside, 56.5 x 38 cm (22¼ x 15"). Designed by Patrick Reagh and illustrated by Joseph Mugnaini, this example 41 of 100 numbered copies, signed in ink by Beckett above his printed name, as issued. Nicely matted and framed to 19.5 x 27 inches (49 x 68 cm). A graphically striking signed item from the important Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director and poet. 

Early in 1982, Samuel Beckett was one of the first writers to respond to an invitation from the Association Internationale de Défense des Artistes (AIDA) for contributions of works to show support for Václav Havel, the Czech playwright who was serving a prison sentence for his dissident activities. In 1979 Havel had been sentenced by the Czechoslovak communist regime to four and a half years imprisonment for subversion. He was co-founder and spokesman of the Charter 77 initiative as well as a member of the Czech Committee for the Defence of the Unjustly Persecuted (VONS). Shocked to hear that Havel had been forbidden to write, which must have “seemed the ultimate oppression”, Beckett wrote Catastrophe and dedicated the play to Havel. It was first performed as part of ‘Une nuit pour Václav Havel’ at the Avignon Theatre Festival in July 1982. (18895)

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