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Jaroslav Hasek's "The Good Soldier Svejk"

"Hasek's most important work was centered around the deeply funny story of a hapless Czech soldier in the Austro-Hungarian army -- dismissed for incompetence only to be pressed into service by the Russians in World War I (where he is captured by his own troops). A mischief-maker, bohemian and drunk, Hasek demonstrated his wit in this classic novel of the Czech character and preposterous nature of war."

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  • John

    This book has my vote for the greatest anti-war novel ever written. Hasek's assault on authorities and idealism more generally is relentless and overwhelming. The novel also demonstrates the power of language, especially similes, to level distinctions of class and power, as Svejk is forever remarking that one person is "just like" another...thus, archduke Ferdinand is just like Ferdinand the dog manure collector. Svejk's rambling tangential stories often force the reader to construe such defamatory comparisons implicitly, because Svejk pretends that such comparisons were innocent, unintended, and accidental. Czech authors such as Hasek knew how to write under conditions of censorship, and the result is both humorous and devastating. Humor is the ultimate weapon.

    June 9, 2012

  • Denis K.

    Enjoyed our conversation. It was great to have someone from the Czech Republic at the gathering. Although I am partial to works like Musil's "A Man Without Qualities", our discussion made me appreciate Hasek's difficult task of devising a quite unique character in literature.

    June 8, 2012

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