We’ve already shared The Good Soldier Švejk (pronounced: shvayke) here in much more detail before, but today we came across some sweet images in color, so we are sharing once again.
In The Good Soldier Švejk, celebrated Czech writer and anarchist Jaroslav Hašek combined dazzling wordplay and piercing satire in a hilariously subversive depiction of the futility of war.
In the book, Hašek delivers a knock-out blow against the System, the Powers-That-Be, hypocrisy and military service! Švejk is a timeless non-hero, with whom we cannot but sympathize.
The brilliance of Švejk is that although he was released from the service “for being an idiot”, he is actually smarter than them all. It’s obvious to us all who the real idiots are, and in this story, they are represented in a way all Czechs felt inside but rarely dared to speak for fear of repercussions during the time.
It really boils down to a complete criticism of the craziness of the society during World War I. It is an excellent and absurdist satire of military life in a mass conscript army in particular, and of polyglot society from the point of view of a disenfranchised ethnic minority. This is it’s magic and what makes it so entertaining and genuine.
The author, born in Bohemia in 1883, was an eccentric writer who took up journalism, drinking, and wandering. Think of him as a Don Quixote lost somewhere in the Austrio-Hungarian empire.
During World War I, he was captured and spent years in Russian prison camps which were surely a terrible ordeal most of us cannot even imagine. His piercing sense of the absurd must have helped him survive such a mountain of hardship because he came out on the other side with this picaresque tale of a reluctant soldier who is either the most inept person on earth or the most brilliant person ever produced in literature.
Švejk confounds everyone he encounters. Through wits (or lack thereof), he survives the perils of war and the unending wrath of his commanders. The wry imbecile manages to float down a seemingly endless stream of hilarious and insightful parables no matter what fate throws at him.
In other words, Svejk is the wise fool, the schlemiel, the coyote trickster that probably graces every culture with insights and pokes in the eye.
He lurches and stumbles from one fiasco to the next, always vexing and insulting his apoplectic superiors.
He gets lost behind the front lines, skirts and endless chain of well-wrought disasters and always finds something to drink at the end of the day.
One really has to read it to understand… and we recommend doing just that!
You can pick up a copy on Amazon.