Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*Austro-Hungarian Empire

*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...

(The entire section is 629 words.)


(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Doleel, Lubomír. “The Road of History and the Detours of the Good Soldier.” In Language and Literary Theory: In Honor of Ladislav Matejko, edited by Benjamin A. Stoltz. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1984. An accessible example of postmodernist scholarship, which discusses the character vejk as inhabiting “ludic” space between obligation and punishment. Although the article employs a few complex literary terms, it is a highly readable and astute analysis of the character.

Goetz-Stankiewicz, Marketa. “Kafka and Haek—Reflections on a Meeting in the House of Fiction.” In Language and Literary Theory: In Honor of Ladislav Matejko, edited by Benjamin A. Stoltz. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1984. A comparison of the two authors, focusing on the differences in their literary themes. The essay also provides a valuable discussion of Haek’s influences on later writers.

Parrott, Cecil. The Bad Bohemian: A Life of Jaroslav Haek. London: Bodley Head, 1978. A biography by the English translator of the 1973 edition that examines parallels between Haek’s life and The Good Soldier vejk.

Parrott, Cecil. Jaroslav Haek. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1982. A comprehensive survey of the historical background of the work, Haek’s political activities and literary career, and the continuing critical controversy about the novel. Includes a character analysis and discussion of structure and themes.

Souková, Milada. A Literary Satellite: Czechoslovak-Russian Literary Relations. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970. Examines Russian and Czechoslovakian responses to the novel as literary propaganda and the debate over whether vejk is a suitable character to represent the Czech military.