Hugo's reply, from Havel's "The Garden Party" (one of Haig's favourite excerpts)

(from the English translation by Vera Blackwell, published by Faber and Faber)

Note: I trust that in quoting the following short extract I am not infringing any copyright regulations, and indeed hope that reading this page will serve to encourage the reader to acquire the excellent volumes of translations of Havel's plays, published in two volumes by Faber and Faber!

I have preserved, after some hesitation, the translator's split infinitives, for the sake of authenticity!

This is Hugo's response to his father's question "Listen, who are you, in fact?", towards the very end of the play.

HUGO: Me! You mean who I am? Now look here, I don't like this one-sided way of putting questions, I really don't! You think one can ask in this simplified way? No matter how one answers this sort of question, one can never encompass the whole truth, but only one of its many limited parts. What a rich thing is man, how complicated, changeable, and multiform - there's no word, no sentence, no book, nothing that could describe and contain him in his whole extent. In man there's nothing permanent, eternal, absolute; man is a continuous change - a change with a proud ring to it, of course! Today the time of static and unchangeable categories is past, the time when A was only A, and B always only B is gone; today we all know very well that A may be often B as well as A; that B may just as well be A; that B may be B, but equally it may be A and C; jsut as C may be not only C, but also A, B, and D; and in certain circumstances even F may become Q, Y, and perhaps also H. I'm sure you yourselves must feel that what you feel today you've not felt yesterday, and what you felt yesterday you don't feel today, but might perhaps again feel tomorrow; while what you might feel the day after tomorrow you may never have felt before. Do you feel that? And it's not hard to see that those who today understand only today are merely another version of those who yesterday undersatand only yesterday; while, as we all know, it's necessary today somehow to try and understand also that which was yesterday, because - who knows - it may come back again tomorrow! Truth is just as complicated and multiform as everything else in the world - the magnet, the telephone, Impressionism, the magnet - and we all are a little bit what we were yesterday and a little bit what we are today; and also a little bit we're not these things. Anyway, we all are a little bit all the time and all the time we are not a little bit; some of us are more and some of us are more not; some only are, some are only, and some only are not; so that none of us entirely is and at the same time each one of us is not entirely; and the point is just when it is better to be more, and to not be less, and when - on the contrary - it is better less to be and more to not be; besides, he who is too much may soon not be at all, and he who - in a certain situation - is able to a certain extent to not be, may in another situation be all the better for that. I don't know whether you want more to be or not to be, and when you want to be or not to be; but I know I want to be all the time and that's why all the time I must a little bit not be. you see, man when he is from time to time a little bit not is not diminished thereby! And if at the moment I am - relatively speaking - rather not, I assure you that soon I might be much more than I've ever been - and then we can have another chat about all these things, but on an entirely different platform. Checkmate!

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