Contrary to the statements of "biased" journalists and the opinion of many Americans, present-day Czechoslovakia "is not run by the Soviet Union," F. O. Matthiessen, professor of History and Literature, told an overflow audience of students and teachers in the Littauer Auditorium last night.
In an address sponsored by the Harvard Teachers Union, Matthiessen made remarks on political, social, and intellectual activities as he found them in the Czech capital and at Charles University, where he spent the fall as a visiting lecturer on American literature.
After mentioning the background of "long political and cultural awareness" in Czechoslovakia, and outlining the progress made there in literature, music, and drama since the war, Matthiessen pointed out that "there are now no Soviet troops in Czechoslovakia. The Czechs regard the Soviet Union with gratitude for their liberation, but they do not want to be called upon to choose between the East and the West."
He emphasized that there are four active political parties represented in the Czech government, only one of which is Communist. In the coming spring elections, he said, the Communists will "probably not get" the majority of votes which would place them in a position to organize a one-party state. (At present, the Communist Party in Czechoslovakia has only a 41 percent plurality of the popular vote.)
Matthiessen criticized as "strongly biased" the press reports of journalists such as Joseph Alsop, whose recent article in the New York Herald Tribune on "The Creeping Terror in Prague" was written, he claimed, after the author had spent one weekend there.