Pavel Kohout Analysis

Other Literary Forms

Apart from his dramatic works, Pavel Kohout has written several successful novels: Bílá kniha (first published in German, as Weissbuch, in 1970; White Book, 1977), Katyn (1978; The Hangwoman, 1981), Nápady svaté Kláry (1982; the ideas of Saint Claire), Snezím (1993; I Am Snowing, 1994), and Hvezdná hodina vrah (1995; The Widow Killer, 1998). He has also written poetry, literature for children, screenplays, essays, translations, and lyrics.


Pavel Kohout belongs to the group of outstanding Czech authors that includes Milan Kundera, Josef kvorecký, and Václav Havel, who—with the exception of Havel—following a brilliant career in Czechoslovakia left their homeland some time after the Soviet occupation in 1968. At their most essential, Kohout’s dramas, as well as his novels, have a common theme: disillusionment with the product of modern rationalism and with rationalism itself. His work challenges official explanations of reality, whether of political, philosophical, or even scientific origin. Kohout achieves this in a number of ways: by recasting, through creative adaptation, an established literary or dramatic work; through his original dramatic works; and finally, by joining other playwrights in a cooperative venture that documents the evils of his age and then exorcises them through comedy. His plays have enjoyed tremendous success not only in Czechoslovakia but also in the Soviet Union, Western Europe, and even the United States and Canada. In 1978, he was awarded the Austrian State Prize for his work.


Ambros, Veronika. Pavel Kohout und die Metamorphosen des sozialistichen Realismus. New York: Peter Lang, 1993. This work, the revision of the author’s thesis, provides a look at the relationship between Kohout and Socialist Realism.

Goetz-Stankiewicz, Marketa. The Silenced Theatre: Czech Playwrights Without a Stage. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1979. Goetz-Stankiewicz provides a look at various dissident playwrights, including Kohout, under the Czechoslovakian communist regime.

McCulloh, T. H. “Poor Murderer: An Engrossing Labyrinth.” Review of Poor Murderer, by Pavel Kohout. Los Angeles Times, October 14, 1992, p. 4. This review of Kohout’s Poor Murderer, at the Open Fist Theater in Hollywood, California, examines its theme and finds its plot intriguing.