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Best Student Essay Competition

One of the key genres of Václav Havel’s work is essays on literary, artistic, social, political, and spiritual topics. His essays, such as the The Power of the Powerless and A Word About Words, have become classic texts of Czech literature; they have been translated into tens of languages, and are among the few truly world-famous works of Czech culture. This is also why it is necessary to keep cultivating the essay genre in the Czech language not in the sense of imitating Václav Havel’s writing, but in the spirit of his courage to name unpleasant problems and search for unconventional solutions to them. For this reason, the Václav Havel Library is announcing the next year of the literary competition for secondary students: the Václav Havel Library Prize for Best Student Essay.

The theme for this ninth year (2017) will be announced in the end of August 2017. 

Please, send the texts, written in the Czech language, in extent from 9,000 up to 18, 000 characters (five to ten standard pages), bearing the author’s name, date of birth, and name of the secondary school,  electronically to the e-mail address info@vaclavhavel-library.org no later than on 31st October 2017. Essays will be examined by the jury composed of Czech cultural figures close to Václav Havel. The first prize is CZK 15,000, the second prize CZK 10,000 and the third prize CZK 5,000. The competition results will be announced and prizes awarded in the premises of the Václav Havel Library in the Václav Havel Library "Club", Ostrovní 13, Prague 1 in December 2017.

Here you can see how the last year was:



Dear Mr. President 
07/12/16 17:00 – 07/12/16 19:00, Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00

8th year (2016)


Is There Room in the Czech Republic for People of Different Cultures and Religions? 
16/12/15 18:30 – 16/12/15 19:30, Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00

7th year (2015)


What Vision Does Contemporary Europe Have and What Vision Should it Have? 
15/12/14 17:00 – 15/12/14 18:00, Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00

6th year (2014)


Is idealism a position for this world? 
16/12/13 19:00 – 16/12/13 21:00, Vaclav Havel Library, Řetězová 7, Prague

5th Year (2013)


How do you imagine the Czech president? 
December 2012, Montmartre Gallery

4th Year (2012)


Freedom of speech and modern communication technologies - two sides of the same coin? 
22/12/11 18:00 – 22/12/11 20:00, Montmartre Gallery

3rd Year (2011)


What remains absurd and what cannot be ridiculed anymore? 
16/11/10 19:00 – 16/11/10 21:00, Montmartre Gallery

2nd Year (2010)


Twenty Years of Freedom from Socialism 
25/11/09 18:00 – 01/02/15 21:00, Montmartre Gallery

1st Year (2009)

Letters to Olga – essays written in prison, letter

„I am a child of the age of conceptual, rather than mystical, thought and therefore my god as well – if I am compelled to speak of him (which I do very unwillingly) – must appear as something terribly abstract, vague and unattractive. But it appears so only to someone I try to tell about him – the experience itself is quite vivid, intimate and particular, perhaps (…) more lively than for someone whose “normal” God is provided with all the appropriate attributes (which oddly enough can alienate more often than drawing one closer). And something else that is typical of my god: he is a master of waiting, and in doing so he frequently unnerves me. It is as though he set up various possibilities around me and then waited silently to see what I would do. (…) His Last Judgment is taking place now, continuously, always – and yet it is always the last: nothing that has happened can ever un-happen, everything remains in the “memory of Being” – and I too remain there – condemned to be with myself till the end of time – just as I am and just as I make myself.“

Václav Havel:
Letters to Olga – essays written in prison, letter, August 7, 1980

What Price Human Rights?