While re-reading David Copperfield recently, I came across a turn of phrase that seemed oddly familiar. It’s in a line of dialogue from the saintly Agnes, as she explains to David that by sheer goodness she hopes to be able to save her alcoholic father from the malign influence of Uriah Heep:
“I hope that real love and truth are stronger in the end than any evil or misfortune in the world.”
I found myself idly wondering: Could this be the source of Václav Havel’s famous revolutionary motto, “Truth and love must prevail over lies and hatred”? Was Havel a big Dickens fan?
Well, no. I mean, maybe he liked Dickens, but inconveniently, I am reminded, upon searching the archives at the Václav Havel Library, that in 1999, Havel himself traced the origin of the phrase to Jan Hus, who wrote that “Truth prevail over all” shortly before being burned at the stake. Who knew that Agnes was so thorough in her study of medieval Czech church history…