Hašek’s The Good Soldier Švejk Reflects Postwar Disillusionment (Great Events from History II: Arts and Culture Series)
Article abstract: As Czechs celebrated the birth of their republic after World War I, Hašek’s novel reminded them of human folly in times of crisis.
Summary of Event
Jaroslav Hašek’s Osudy dobrého vojáka Švejka ve svetove valky (1921-1923; published in English first as The Good Soldier: Schweik in 1930 and in an authoritative translation as The Good Soldier Švejk and His Fortunes in the World War in 1973) is the story of a wise fool, Josef Švejk, who refuses to fight for the Austro-Hungarian cause when he is drafted into the army during World War I. Published over a two-year period, the novel was left unfinished when the author, Jaroslav Hašek, died suddenly in January, 1923; at that point, barely four volumes of his proposed six-volume story were complete. The novel, though, was already a popular success in the newborn Republic of Czechoslovakia.
What kind of book is The Good Soldier Švejk? It is a picaresque tale in substance and structure, and at first glance, it appears to be artless in execution. Closer inspection reveals the opposite, however; the reader discovers that the fat, balding, middle-aged ex-soldier Švejk is a man of deceptive qualities. Hašek leads him through a series of carefully prepared scenes designed to satirize the officialdom of an empire being gradually torn apart by war. At each step, from Švejk’s arrest for making indiscreet...
(The entire section is 2362 words.)
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