The Pizh’duks by Václav Havel

Second Pizh’duk invited Third Pizh’duk into his office; he shot the breeze with him a bit, just to keep up appearances, and then he told him: they should work together to get rid of First Pizh’duk…

Václav Havel
“Truth and love must prevail over lies and hate,” Václav Havel said. Photo by Novinky.cz

Two years ago Václav Havel died.

I want to remember the first President of the Czech Republic with his (one and only) book for children: The Pizh’duks.

The Pizh'duks by Václav Havel

Dear children,

I don’t usually write for children, and that is why I don’t know if this tale of mine about the Pizh’duks is going to make sense to you, and if you are going to like it. If not, don’t know it away – wait and see how it is when you are older!

Václav Havel

The book was published in 2003 in Meander in in dual language edition Czech-English.

“Václav Havel has long insisted that he cannot write a fairy tale for children,” claimed a Czech writer Ivan Klíma in 2003, “because, in the first place, he doesn’t know how to write something like this, and because, secondly, he has an awful time correctly pronouncing the letter ‘r’ – and fairytales are full of nothing but drrragons, wizarrrds, prrrincesses, dwarrrfs, fairrries, waterrr sprrrites, trrrolls, rrrarrrees and otherrr similarrr types of monsterrrs.”

But as you can see, Václav Havel did it.

“He did end up writing a fairytale, and he worked it all out wonderfully: he came up with a new fairytale monster that hasn’t got a single ‘r’ in its name,” said Klíma.

The Pizh'duks by Václav Havel
The Pizh’duks by Václav Havel, illustrations by Jiří Sopko. Photo by Meander (?)

What is the fairytale about?

Well, it’s quite different than other fairytales you know. The Pizh’duk is a strange creature who does things in a strange ways. You might call him a politician but not a really good one.

The fairytale has five parts. They are called: The Pizh’duks, The Conspiracy, The Telephone, The Outdoorsman and The Meeting.

Václav Havel wrote the fairytale in 1975, when communists ruled in this country, and many writers were not allowed to publish their books. Václav Havel was one of them, and so you can read about it between lines. The Pizh’duks is Havel’s criticism of self-seeking people, usually politicians; mainly; it’s the criticism of communism, but sensitively written – for children, to let them know how absurd the communism was.

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