Osudy dobrého vojáka Švejka za světové války

Osudy dobrého vojáka Švejka za světové války➮ Osudy dobrého vojáka Švejka za světové války Read ➶ Author Jaroslav Hašek – Bluevapours.co.uk In The Good Soldier Švejk, celebrated Czech writer and anarchist Jaroslav Hašek combined dazzling wordplay and piercing satire in a hilariously subversive depiction of the futility of war

G In The Good Soldier Švejk, celebrated Czech writer vojáka Švejka eBook ✓ and anarchist Jaroslav Hašek combined dazzling wordplay and piercing satire in a hilariously subversive depiction of the futility of warGoodnatured and garrulous, Švejk becomes the Austrian army's Osudy dobrého PDF/EPUB or most loyal Czech soldier when he is called up on the outbreak of World War Ialthough his bumbling attempts to get to the front serve only to prevent him from reaching it Playing cards and getting dobrého vojáka Švejka ePUB ☆ drunk, he uses all his cunning and genial subterfuge to deal with the police, clergy, and officers who chivy him toward battleCecil Parrott's vibrant translation conveys the brilliant irreverence of this classic about a hapless Everyman caught in a vast bureaucratic machine.

Jaroslav Hašek was a Czech humorist, satirist, writer vojáka Švejka eBook ✓ and anarchist best known for his novel The Good Soldier Švejk Czech: Osudy dobrého vojáka Švejka za světové války, an unfinished collection of farcical incidents about a Osudy dobrého PDF/EPUB or soldier in World War I and a satire on the ineptitude of authority figures, which has been translated into sixty languages He also wrote some , short stories He was a j.

Osudy dobrého vojáka Švejka za světové války MOBI
    Osudy dobrého vojáka Švejka za světové války MOBI caught in a vast bureaucratic machine."/>
  • Paperback
  • 752 pages
  • Osudy dobrého vojáka Švejka za světové války
  • Jaroslav Hašek
  • English
  • 09 January 2018
  • 9780140449914

10 thoughts on “Osudy dobrého vojáka Švejka za světové války

  1. Glenn Russell says:




    Nowadays it's fun being locked up, Švejk continued with relish. There's no quartering, no Spanish boots. We've got bunks, a table, a bench. We're not all squashed together like sardines: we get soup; they give us bread and bring us a jug of water. We've got our latrines right under our snouts. You can see progress in everything.

    Jaroslav Hašek was a born practical joker and mischief-maker. What better author to write a comic novel that's also a war novel than this renowned literary Czech hoaxer. As Milan Kundera observed, in Homer and Tolstoy war had a comprehensible meaning and people fighting the war knew what they were fighting for. With Hašek things are much different: soldiers like Švejk go off to battle without the foggiest idea why they are fighting - and even more alarming, without even wanting or caring to find out.

    The Good Soldier Švejk is a classic work of European literature, one of the most popular and beloved novels ever published. Memorable scenes and quotable lines, as the one cited above, pop out on every single one of its 750 pages.

    Penguin Classics is to be commended for Cecil Parrott's lively English translation and also including a Guide to the Pronunciation of Czech Names, maps, Josef Lada illustrations and the translator's extensive Introduction providing biographical notes on the author as well as social, cultural, historical and literary context for the novel.

    The first chapter starts off with a bang - the shooting of the Archduke Ferdinand, nephew of the Austrian Emperor, and his wife at Sarajevo by a Serbian nationalist. Not exactly history's peaches and cream event as this bang-bang-bang propelled Europe into the First World War. What follows gives a reader a real bang for their buck, mostly of the comic variety taking the form of what I term a Švejk moment. Here are a four suchŠvejk moments I count among my personal favorites:

    1. Thrown in jail at police headquarters with a bunch of other anti-government conspirators, labeled as such for things like not reading the newspaper about the recent events in Sarajevo, one shocked man cries out, I'm innocent! to which Švejk replies, Jesus Christ was innocent too and all the same they crucified him. No one anywhere has ever worried about a man being innocent. Grin and bear it.

    2. The government official in the pub who took Švejk off to prison promised to return with armed guards so he could arrest the pub owner since he let flies shit on a portrait of the Archduke he had hanging in his pub. When the pub owner is thrown in the cell with Švejk and the other men, he instantly becomes despondent. Švejk shakes his hand cordially and says: I knew that gentleman would keep his word when he said that they'd come for you. Punctiliousness like that is a good thing

    3. Švejk's landlady is beside herself with upset and wants sympathy. She tells Švejk she is going to jump out the window, to which the good soldier replies: If you want to jump out the window, go into the sitting room. I've opened the window for you. I wouldn't advise you to jump out of the kitchen window, because you'd fall on the rose bed in the garden, damage the bushes and have to pay for them. From the window in the sitting-room you'll fall beautifully on the pavement and if you're lucky you'll break your neck.

    4. A policeman attempts to trap Švejk by buying dogs from the good soldier. He keeps the dogs in a room without feeding them. Some time thereafter, upon entering the room, the dogs tear him to pieces. When Švejk hears of this most tragic event, he says: It gives me a headache to think how they are going to put all his pieces together when the day of the last judgement comes.

    As Cecil Parrott states in his Introduction and a number of other literary critics have noted, a more complete appreciation of Jaroslav Hašek’s novel forces us to fathom Švejk’s character which is complex and multifaceted and knotty . Švejk is quick to acknowledge with pride that he received a military discharge for patent idiocy but, as we come to learn the more we read, Švejk is nobody’s fool. Although he frequently plays the dunce, it becomes increasingly clear Švejk is keenly analytic, knowledgeable, well-read and possesses a deep understanding of human nature.

    What adds much depth to the tale is all in the contrast: from beginning to end Švejk remains calm, almost angelic; his eyes glow with innocence and tenderness, his face radiates kindness, gentleness and light; he speaks his words with such sincerity and honesty that those around him, even the most hardheaded and militaristic, are taken by his presence. Meanwhile individuals in power like the police and military officers are characterized as selfish, vulgar, uncouth, loutish, even brutal, sadistic and inhumane.

    Returning to the character of Švejk, there still remains the issue: to what degree is Švejk at one with his glowing innocence? Or, stated another way, how much of what we read of Švejk's adventures is a matter of the good soldier playacting in order to manipulate those around him? Readers are left to decide for themselves. However, one thing is clear: a sweet, kindly, honest Švejk from the tip of his cap to the laces of his boots makes for a story both charming and heartwarming.

    So here we are at the outbreak of the First World War and the countries of Europe are poised to swing into action. Join the army, muster up your courage and go to the front. What adventure! Be a hero off the pages of Walter Scott or Alexandre Dumas. But as thousands of young men quickly discovered - this is the twentieth century, complete with machine guns, poison gas, flamethrowers, mortars, tanks and aircraft. The chances of returning from the front in one piece physically and mentally are slim to none.

    Yet inept governments and bumbling military leaders pressed on. What was needed in such a world gone mad was an author capable of stinging satire, creating a hero more anti-hero than hero. What was needed was Jaroslav Hašek and his The Good Soldier Švejk.


    Jaroslav Hašek (1883 -1923) - Great times call for great men, was Hašek's ironic comment about Švejk.

  2. MJ Nicholls says:

    The Czech antidote to Heller’s Catch-22 (a wonderful but overpraised anti-war satire), this anarchistic (and openly misogynistic) classic is bolder, bawdier, barmier and another B-bouncing word than Heller’s similar book thing. The premise here is that the balding and plump Švejk (or so he appears in the smile-raising illustrations) pretends to be an idiot to “dodge the draft,” but his motivations are deeper and his brain power plumper—he remembers his officer’s orders verbatim and is able to parrot their barked orders back at them, riling his superiors simply by showing up their lamebrained hypocrisy at every opportunity. The remarkable thing about this not-always-hilarious, but relentlessly entertaining book is that Hašek was an educated hobo who spent his time bumming the railroads, pulling this masterpiece out his pants while living a true on-the-edge anarchist life. The novel is punk slapstick. The comedy here spins out into shows like Bilko, Dad’s Army, MASH (asterisks omitted) and so on—with nice and nasty satirical strafings and knifings for fans of that kind of thing. Essential for all ages 3 and up.

  3. Vit Babenco says:

    I've read The Good Soldier Švejk twice - once when I was still adolescent and second time when I was already an adult. I enjoyed it both times though quite differently.
    I believe it is one of the first examples of postmodern novels full of delicious black humour.

    I really don't know why those loonies get so angry when they're kept there. You can crawl naked on the floor, howl like a jackal, rage and bite. If anyone did this anywhere on the promenade people would be astonished, but there it's the most common or garden thing to do. There's a freedom there which not even Socialists have ever dreamed of.

    This world of ours is a huge lunatic asylum and we all are patients.

  4. Jan-Maat says:

    Probably the funniest book ever written about the first world war.

    This isn't really a novel, more of a series of anecdotes linked together by a few characters and whose narrative drive grows weaker as the work progresses. It was written in instalments and I have never heard tell that there was an overall plan for the book.

    Much of what happens and even bizarre stories like the editor who invented new animals to write about for a regular animal magazine are drawn from Hašek's own experiences.

    It was written after the war and after the author's experience as a Bolshevik Commissar, and so is looking back on the vanished world of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

    Probably more by the accident of the author's early, alcohol related death than by design, an ongoing joke is that the Czech soldiers spend their free time fighting Hungarian soldiers, teasing Polish troops and getting round bumbling German officers all of whom are, technically at least, mutually united in the service of His Imperial Majesty Franz-Josef II.

    Naturally since the story was written after the Empire had been broken up in to a number of countries, two of which in turn no longer exist, and for the explicit purpose of amusing the Czech reading public in order to earn money to spend on drink, national stereotypes as well as devotion and loyalty to the old empire are played for laughs.

    The earliest section featuring Svejk developing arthritis to avoid being called up as a reservist, photographed in his wheelchair cheering on the troops leaving for the front, a spell in a lunatic asylum, getting drafted and gambled away by a drunken field chaplain, then loosing himself on his way to join his regiment but succeeding in not being tried for desertion is possibly the funniest. Although I have a grim appreciation of the cadet officer sent to a cholera hospital after having brought diarrhoea upon himself by scoffing all the chocolates he had been sent from home. The cholera hospital being understood as a nobler alternative than the embarrassing truth which pretty much sums up the tone of the work - a delight in the self-defeating idiocy of the entire endeavour.

    There are at least two serious reasons for the English speaker to read this. Firstly it is part of the war that wasn't the Western front. The Western front so looms up in our historical imagination that the millions who also died and survived on the Eastern Front, on the Italian Front, fighting in the Ottoman Empire, in Africa and a few other places are easily forgotten and often overlooked. Secondly it is a comic, not a tragic view of the war. This is the other side of the war - there were some people who felt like winners. Citizens of new states that emerged out of the rubble of old empires, dusting off their shoulders and feeling relatively upbeat (at least for a few years) about their place in a new Europe.

  5. Evgeny says:

    Review updated on 4/1/2016.

    A simple Czech person Svejk became a soldier in Austro-Hungarian Army in the beginning of World War I.
    The
    His way to become one was anything but straight: despite his wholehearted attempts to enlist the moment he heard about the war, he kept stumbling from one absurd situation into another ending up literally everywhere except for the Army. When he finally gets there, even more ridiculous situations keep happening to him thanks to the military life which defies common sense most of the time.

    This is a satirical book which manages to be a humor book as well. The humor part is really great: the book was written almost one hundred years ago, and it is still funny; I laughed really hard while reading the book, and I think the scene where Svejk brings drunk chaplain home has got to be one of the funniest one in the literature.

    Now comes the satirical part: at the first glance it looks like Svejk is a complete idiot. Actually I take it back: it would be an insult to the people with this mental deficiency to call him that; Svejk is way past this point. Once you stop and think about what happens in the book, it turns out he actually always prevails over the huge and baroque bureaucratic machine of the military and civil life in pre-war Central Europe. His behavior can be considered a mockery of this machine: Svejk is a little guy caught in there, but he wins all the time: no matter how idiotic and bizarre his actions are, even bigger idiocy of bureaucracy makes him a winner.

    I read this book after my military service, it added to the fun in reading when I realized not much has changed in the military since World War I; the bureaucratic organization of the military is still there and most of the reasons we start modern wars are still the same.

    I also strongly suggest reading about the author of this book Jaroslav Hašek.
    Jaroslav
    His life was anything but common. Sadly he died before finishing the book, but the story has a feeling of being finished nonetheless. It would probably not be an exaggeration to call this novel to be the best satire on the World War I.

  6. Tony says:

    Humbly report, Sir, but I've been reading this book called The Good Soldier Švejk which I had not planned to read as part of my World War I project, but there you have it. It's a satire of the stupidity of war, of governments and armies and regulations, of class struggles. Of being a Czech, and nevertheless in the Austrian army. To deal with the absurdity of it all, you need an anti-hero. Which would be this guy:



    Švejk.

    One buffoonerous episode...



    follows another...



    and another...



    Yes, the drawings are in the book and add to the anarchy fun.

    People say this book has its roots in Don Quixote, but there's Shandian digressions, too, and, as a character, Švejk has plenty of Bartleby in him. But he's funnier, more complex, and wiser, much wiser, despite his protestations of idiocy. It's obviously credited as spawning Catch-22, and yes, it's an anti-war novel. But when a few almost-enlightened characters did a double-take, a facial tic of wonder if the imbecile might just be putting them on, I thought of Chauncey Gardiner too.

    'Listen, Švejk, are you really God's prize oaf?'

    'Humbly report, Sir,' Švejk answered solemnly, 'I am. Ever since I was little I have had bad luck like that.'

    I was thinking of all these things, as I was almost done with the book, and the et ux and I decided to take a five-mile walk around a nearby lake. The path follows a roadway, one mile of which was under repair, a widening project, what they call it, which had been in progress for six months and was days from completion.

    We walked as far as the section under repair. Years of parochial education have resulted in my following even the most pedantic of rules (and a good handful of the Ten Commandments, by the way), so I stopped us at the three big ROAD CLOSED signs. However, there is something about a freshly paved roadway, with brightly painted yellow and white lines. There was just some guardrail work being done. We asked some of the worker bees whether we could continue on and they couldn't think why not, and we couldn't think why not either, this being America and all. Can I have a little Woody Guthrie please!

    As I went walking I saw a sign there
    And on the sign it said No Trespassing.
    But on the other side it didn't say nothing,
    That side was made for you and me.

    Thank you.

    And it was indeed a beautiful ribbon of highway. I tipped my cap to the workers, who tipped their caps back at me. All was well.

    At about the halfway point through the 'construction area', a white pick-up truck with a flashing yellow light on top came speeding up from behind us, screeching to a stop at our side. What he said was, 'This is a NO TRESPASSING area!' but I think what he meant was Sir, you have rubbed the bloom off my virginity.

    To which the et ux offered, 'My husband said it was okay.'

    The officious man in the white pick-up truck now knew which guilty party to glare at. So, I offered, 'This reminds me of the time the et ux and I were driving back from Illinois and where the highway goes in a big circle around Indianapolis the speed limit went from 75 miles per hour to 55 miles per hour, with not enough warning, if you know what I mean. So I got pulled over. The local gendarme walked up to the car, identifying himself and explaining why he was compelled to stop me, only to be interrupted by the et ux, who leaned over to say, 'I told him to slow down!' My hands on the wheel, I waited for her to continue with 'but he never listens when he's drinking' but the hand of God must have stopped her.'

    'You're a smart-aleck,' said the white pick-up truck.

    'Humbly report, that view has its supporters, but then there's those that vote for feeble-minded. But anyway, baszom az anyát, baszom az istenet, baszom a Kristus Máriát, baszom az astyádot, baszom a világot.'

    'What's your name?'

    'Švejk.'

    'Shvayk?'

    'No, Švejk. Just like it's spelled.'

    'You're not Shvayk.' (this from the et ux.)

    'Well, you can't walk here.'

    I decide to be quiet and let him figure this out. The sign on his door says FOLINO CONSTRUCTION and not MCCANDLESS TOWNSHIP POLICE DEPARTMENT. We are one-half mile from where we came and one-half mile from where we are going. We do not have a helicopter. The most ardent profiler could not perceive the two old people that we are as terrorists, nor is this new roadway likely on any Top 100 Infrastructure Thingies We'd Like to Blow Up List in Jihad Monthly. So, here we were, waiting for the man Mr. Folino thought enough of to let him have a spinning yellow light on top of his truck to figure this out. As Švejk would say, he had a well-developed talent for observation when it's already too late and some unpleasantness has happened.

    We were let off with a warning.

    We walked through the construction zone, and about a mile more in silence. Then the et ux said, 'You're writing a review, aren't you Mr. Shvayk?'

    'Why yes I am. And it's Švejk.'

    'That book with the cartoon on the cover?'

    'Somewhat famous drawings by Josef Lada, but yes.'

    'What's it about?'

    'It's a satire, with a seeming bumbling idiot for a protagonist who goes on one misadventure after another, but with the clear purpose, if you read it correctly, of not getting anywhere near the front lines during World War I and getting himself killed.'

    'A satire?'

    'Yes. A satire. Which is tricky because the people who are spoofed in a satire are pretty much guaranteed not to see the humor in it. It reminds me of the guy who would be making dinner and his wife would walk behind him making sure he closed all the drawers he opened so that crumbs wouldn't fall in. Or would stand there when he returned from taking the garbage out or walk out of the bathroom and just stare at his hands until he got the point that he should wash his hands. Or freeze in her tracks when she heard ice cubes drop into a glass fearing the end of the world or that maybe vodka would follow......'

    'That's not funny.'

    ----- ----- ----- -----

    Švejk was explaining: You see, it's not so hard to get in somewhere. Anyone can do that, but getting out again needs real military skill. When a chap gets in somewhere, he has to know about everything that's going on around him, so as not to find himself in a jam suddenly - what's called a catastrophe.

    ----- ----- ----- -----

    Humbly report, Sir.
















  7. Beata says:

    Read this book ages ago thanks to my Dad to whom I am eternally grateful. Probably one of the best novels of the 20th century on war.

  8. Nigeyb says:

    Jaroslav Hašek was an anarchist and anarchy runs through The Good Soldier Švejk like a stick of rock. It's anti-war, anti-establishment, anti-religion and, some say, even funnier than Catch-22. Apparently Joseph Heller based his hero Yossarian on Švejk. I read Catch-22 far too long ago to make a valid comparison. Oh, and Bertholt Brecht declared it the greatest book of the twentieth century. And, I can confirm, it really is quite something....

    This Penguin Classics edition of The Good Soldier Švejk contains an informative introduction by Cecil Parrott which made me want to read a biography of Jaroslav Hašek. Helpfully, Cecil Parrott has written one: The Bad Bohemian: A Life Of Jaroslav Hašek Creator Of The Good Soldier Švejk.

    Before starting I was little daunted by the book's heft. It's 752 pages and that's not including the introduction. However, I needn't have worried: it's highly readable, very addictive, full of wonderfully distinctive and pleasing cartoon-like illustrations, and I was regularly reading 50 pages at a time.

    The book opens with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand where Švejk, a Czech living in Prague, immediately realises the significance of the assassination despite some initial confusion about which Ferdinand has been killed…

    ‘Which Ferdinand, Mrs Müller?’ asked Švejk, continuing to massage his knees. ‘I know two Ferdinands. One of them does jobs for Prusa the chemist, and one day he drank a bottle of hair oil by mistake; and then there’s Ferdinand Kokoska who goes round collecting manure. They wouldn’t be any great loss, either of ‘em.’ ‘No, it’s the Archduke Ferdinand, the one from Konopiste, you know, the fat, pious one.’

    The Good Soldier Švejk is chock full of subversive humour and peppered with mad major-generals, hard-drinking priests, lecherous officers, all of whom operate in an absurd, imperialist world. Jaroslav Hašek combines amusing wordplay and piercing satire in this very funny depiction of the futility of war. I suspect this book is also an accurate depiction of the moral bankruptcy of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

    Švejk is a hapless, apparently guileless everyman who gets embroiled in the state’s bureaucratic machinery and yet, through his feigned stupidity, always manages to subvert those in authority to emerge unscathed whilst leaving chaos in his wake. Peter Sellers would have made a perfect screen version of Švejk and, coincidentally, Sellers used quotes from Švejk in his film 'A Shot in the Dark’.

    Švejk is constantly reducing officers to despair with his homely analogies and rambling anecdotes, not least the long suffering Lieutenant Lukáš who develops something of a love-hate relationship with Švejk. Švejk's idiocy however is, perhaps, his way of dealing with an insane world fighting an insane war. It is all a ploy. By constantly becoming embroiled in tine consuming investigations about his conduct, so his arrival at the front line is further delayed. He is also a prankster whose genius is that he subverts the authoritarian world as much for its own sake as for any other reason. His humour and apparent imbecility rendering him indestructible. No wonder he's such an enduring character.

    Josef Lada’s illustrations are one of the many delights of this book. Josef Lada (1887-1957) was a Czech painter and writer, however he is best known for illustrating this book. His cartoons are very simple but add another level of enjoyment to the book. He really captures the essence of Švejk’s simple charm and also the self-importance of some of the more senior officers. Click here to view some examples.

    Jaroslav Hašek died having completed four of the six proposed books, which - had he lived to finish it - would have made this tome even heftier, and therein lies my only criticism, due to its episodic structure The Good Soldier Švejk can occasionally be too rambling and repetitive however, read on a few pages, and there's another amusing scene to enjoy.

    This is an account of World War One far removed from heroism and honour, and which focuses more on idiotic, patriotic officers, drunk priests, skiving, conniving, brutality, boozing, death and the harsh reality of a moribund, unpopular Empire for those trying to survive at the bottom of the heap. The Good Soldier Švejk is a book which deserves to be more celebrated and widely read (outside the Czech republic where it is considered a classic). Jaroslav Hašek humorously shines an illuminating light on the experience of ordinary people whilst seismic historical events negatively impact their lives and so consequently inspires justifiable suspicion of patriotism, bureaucratic careerism and authoritarianism. All such nonsense is best mocked. The Good Soldier Švejk's truths are perhaps more relevant than ever.





  9. Margitte says:

    So many composers have translated stories into music. I was thinking that if this story could be translated into an operetta, or even a cabaret, it would become a medley of innocence, honesty, madness, brutality and a world happily going mad, while we, the audience, laugh ourselves to death, merrily tapping our feet to the rhythm of the orchestra.

    I had the same feeling and reaction when I read Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Berniers. And then later on with 100-year-old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared‎ by Jonas Jonasson.

    The absurdity makes you laugh, while the situation makes you cringe. To top it off, the story is based on true events, as related by the author after WWI.

    The author introduced his main character in the preface as the hero of an epoch. An ordinary modest unrecognized man in the streets of Prague, who did more for the war than men such as Napoleon. His heroism even overshadowed Alexander The Great. If you would ask his name, he would answer in simple and modest tone: I am Svejk.

    He was the talk of all citizens in the Kingdom of Bohemia when they were still under Austrian rule. His glory will never pass away.

    Svejk, the Czech, burst onto the scene when he decided to join the Austrian Hungarian Army. But like a more contemporary Mr. Bean, he had the knack to turn any situation into something bizarrely, and often annoyingly, funny. He will be called a prize lunatic, a thorough-paced rascal, double-dyed blithering idiot, a prize ass, a thickheaded booby, lousy skunk, a blithering jackass, a ghastly idiot, a God-forsaken idiot, a freak of nature, a fat-headed lout, a devil of nuisance, a brainless booby, a degenerate. He was officially diagnosed as feeble-minded from his previous stint in the army, and developed arthritis in the meantime. Yet, it did not hamper his desire to be a loyal soldier and report for service when the First World War broke out.

    Svjek had the gift of the gab to talk himself into, and then out of trouble, with a vast trove of memories he used in confirming his good-natured, kindness. He had a touching air of gentleness with which he drove people to acts of cruelty or kindness against him. But with his optimistic psyche firmly in place, he always experienced these acts as superb hospitality or professional conduct of some kind.

    If historical fiction is your religion, and the genre's authors your sect, this unique book, 1st published in 1921, is a must-read. Your faith might be woefully challenged by the sheer brilliance of combining comedy with tragedy to create this kind of satirical wonder-work or masterpiece. Venturesome, boundary-pushing elements elevate this book into the realm of classic excellence, which sadly, are often ignored and replaced by the mundane, the poor airborne nothingness, being pushed to the top by publishers. This book is a once in a lifetime experience.

    It is indeed an early introduction to the literature of the postmodernism in which everything is questioned, ridiculed, protested. In this case it is the futility of war, the almost blasphemous rebellion against religious hypocrisy, and the tragedy of an over-sized bureaucracy. Just about everything is made fun of.

    It was a difficult read due to the brutality and cruelty portrayed in The Good Soldier Svjek. For sensitive readers the metatheatrical irreverence with which religion is handled might be experienced as bad-taste humor. However, the cheerful irony, and sharp satire pulled me through. I just realized how unique this book was.

    Then an orderly arrived with a packet containing a communication to notify the Chaplain that on the next day the administration of extreme unction at the hospital would be attended by the Society of Genteel Ladies for the Religious Training of Soldiers. This society consisted of hysterical old women and it supplied the soldiers in hospital with images of saints and tales about the Catholic warrior who dies for his Emperor. On the cover of the book containing these tales was a coloured picture, representing a battlefield. Corpses of men and horses, overturned munition wagons and cannon with the limber in the air, were scattered about on all sides. On the horizon a village was burning and shrapnel was bursting, while in the foreground lay a dying soldier, with his leg torn off, and above him an angel descended with a wreath bearing this inscription on a piece of ribbon: This day thou shalt be with Me in paradise. And the dying soldier smiled blissfully, as if they were bringing him ice cream.
    It is certainly not a book for everyone, since it is also written in the literary idiom of the 1920s and requires patience to venture through. But it is one of those gems, like The Story of Ebenezer Le Page by G.B. Edwards, that demands a prominent position on the 'favorite' shelves for many readers.

    There's no novel structure to the tale. It is more like a combination of anecdotes, or events, being tied together by a few continuous characters, while others disappeared along the way. The ending was blunt. However, the overall idea and message in this epoch is more important, and therefor no stars are lost.

    RECOMMENDED.

  10. Anthony Buckley says:

    The first time I read this book, as a teenager, I could not see the point. So I put it down without finishing it. Now I see it as one of the great books. The character of Svejk is straight out of folklore. He is the foolish man who somehow kills the giant, gets the princess and claims the gold. Except that here is no fairy tale, but a story of war and a story of bureaucrats and officialdom.

    Specifically, we at first witness Svejk, a bumbling lower class oaf who has been recruited into the army, and who, in consequence, daily encounters a sequence of bumbling upper class oafs, his officers. These latter individuals are running a totally disastrous war, the Great War for Civilization, which is destroying their own country of Austria Hungary.

    Svejk, however, is not moderately stupid. He is very very stupid. Indeed, he is so very stupid that he somehow manages to keep himself out of trouble and out of danger. Gradually, we wonder whether Svejk might actually be quite a clever man, who knows how to handle himself in the face of arbitrary power, bureaucracy and bone-headed idiocy. Finally, because the war's stupidity is actually quite a serious matter, we make another discovery. By an imperceptible transmogrification, Svejk ceases even to appear to the reader as a fool. Instead, we discover him to be a quiet, intelligent hero, the model, indeed for the Czechoslovak hero who emerged from the old Empire to found a new society.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *