Paul Wilson will give the talk “Reclaiming Democracy: Reflections on the Velvet Revolution” on Oct. 17 at 5:30 p.m. in Andrews Hall, Bailey Library.
Wilson will draw on his experiences in Czechoslovakia as a teacher, and later as a journalist, to look back at the origins of the collapse of communism in 1989 and examine some of the lessons to be learned from the Czech experience, over the past thirty years, of democratic renewal in a time of tumultuous social transformation.
Paul Wilson taught English in Czechoslovakia from 1967 to 1977, when he was expelled from the country for his association with the banned rock group, The Plastic People of the Universe. In addition to his work as a broadcast and print journalist and magazine editor, he has translated the work of many Czech writers, including Josef Škvorecký, Ivan Klíma, Bohumil Hrabal, and Václav Havel, into English.
In 1989, he chronicled the collapse of communism and the transition to democracy in Central Europe in a series of radio documentaries for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and in articles for the New York Review of Books.
He edited two volumes of Havel’s essays and speeches, and an anthology of Czech short stories, called “Prague: A Traveler’s Literary Companion”. He co-authored “Fifty-seven Hours”, an eye-witness account of the Moscow theater hostage-taking by Chechen terrorists in 2002. His most recent translation is a memoir by Bohumil Hrabal, called “All My Cats”, to be published by New Directions later this year.