*Austro-Hungarian Empire. Central European empire ruled by the Habsburg Dynasty from 1867 to 1918 whose territory included the region that became Czechoslovakia, where much of the novel takes place. Although the novel is based on Haek’s experiences as a Czech conscripted to serve in the Austrian army, Austria-Hungary represents any corrupt and oppressive regime, a fact readily apparent to Germany’s Nazi regime, which banned this book in the 1930’s.
Anabasis. Term for a military advance. Not surprisingly, in the chapter titled “vejk’s Budéjovice Anabasis” the Good Soldier retreats from Ceské Bodévice, a town in southern Bohemia from which troops are deployed to the Russian front. Unlike Haek himself, who traveled without incident to Ceské Bodévice, then on to Kirilyhida in Hungary and finally to the front, vejk misses his train and sets off on foot to rejoin his regiment, traveling in the opposite direction. In Cecil Parrott’s English translation of this novel vejk’s “anabasis” is conveniently plotted on a map. However, what is important is not the towns and villages themselves, but the circular path of the journey, which replicates in physical terms the themes of circularity that form much of the novel’s structure. Just as vejk attempts to circumvent authority by launching into monologues that digress wildly before returning to the original point, so the anabasis allows him to delay being sent into combat. He inhabits a world in...
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