Most of you who read this, perhaps in an eggnog-induced haze, will do so on December 26th. According to some calendars, this is St. Stephen’s Day, honoring the first Christian martyr, who was stoned to death in the year 36 of the Common Era. This would hardly be a cheery reason for holiday celebration, but the date is also associated with another saint of the tenth century, the patron of the Czech people, Svatý Václav. So popular was he that it sometimes seems as if half the men in Bohemia are called Václav, including the secular literary saint Václav Havel. This irreverent playwright, a dissident and political prisoner under the Soviet regime, rose to become the first president of a newly free and democratic nation, occupying the landmark castle that loomed large in Kafka’s imagination, the same one featured on the cover of Benjamin Black’s historical mystery Wolf on a String. But I see I have wandered from my path, which is dangerous at this time of year ... continued
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