Biography (Critical Survey of Drama, Second Revised Edition)
Pavel Kohout is one of the most controversial figures in postwar Czech cultural and political history. A poet, author, and playwright, Kohout has been influential as a devoted Stalinist, a communist reformer, a dissident involved in the underground, and finally as a persona non grata in his homeland. He remains a highly regarded and successful European author.
Born in 1928 to a middle-class family in Prague, Czechoslovakia, Kohout was graduated from high school in 1947 and then studied arts at the Charles University in Prague, from which he was graduated in 1952. He simultaneously embarked on his literary career by publishing, in 1945, his first verses. Between 1947 and 1949, Kohout worked for the Czechoslovak Radio and, after the communist coup in 1948, experienced a meteoric rise in his career as he became cultural attaché in Moscow (1949-1950), the editor in chief of the satiric weekly Dikobraz (Porcupine, 1950-1952), and then the editor of the Czechoslovak Soldier (1953-1955). Finally, after the inauguration of television broadcasting, he worked as an editor for Czechoslovak Television (1955-1957).
Disillusioned with the West, which had ceded Czechoslovakia to the Nazis and their atrocities as part of the “Appeasement Policy” of 1938, Kohout, like many of his countrymen (including author Kundera), became infatuated with Stalinist communism. A popular figure in Prague in the 1950’s, Kohout...
(The entire section is 1268 words.)
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