The Good Soldier Svejk: And His Fortunes in the World War

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Penguin, 1990 - Fiction - 752 pages
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In The Good Soldier Svejk , celebrated Czech writer and anarchist Jaroslav Hasek combined dazzling wordplay and piercing satire in a hilariously subversive depiction of the futility of war. Good-natured and garrulous, Svejk becomes the Austrian armys 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 drunk, he uses all his cunning and genial subterfuge to deal with the police, clergy, and officers who chivy him toward battle. Cecil Parrotts vibrant translation conveys the brilliant irreverence of this classic about a hapless Everyman caught in a vast bureaucratic machine. Brilliant . . . Perhaps the funniest novel ever written. George Monbiot

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About the author (1990)

Even though Jaroslav Hasek wrote a large number of short stories, his fame rests mainly on his satirical novel The Good Soldier Schweik (1920--23), in which he created the fat and cowardly dog-catcher-gone-to-war who personified Czech bitterness toward Austria in World War I. The humorous complications in which Schweik becomes involved derive from Hasek's own experience; his work as a journalist was interrupted by war and, like Schweik, he became a soldier. Eventually, he was taken prisoner by the Russians. Later he returned to Prague as a communist to work as a free-lance writer. At his death he had completed only four "Schweik" novels of a projected six. Martin Esslin has said, "Schweik is more than a mere character; he represents a basic human attitude. Schweik defeats the powers that be, the whole universe in its absurdity, not by opposing but by complying with them. . . In the end the stupidity of the authorities, the idiocy of the law are ruthlessly exposed." The character of Schweik made a tremendous impression on Bertolt Brecht, who transformed his name to use him afresh in the play Schweyk in the Second World War.

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