The Good Soldier Švejk pdf by Jaroslav Hasek is an unfinished satirical dark comedy novel by Czech writer Jaroslav Hašek, published in 1921–1923, about a good-humored, simple-minded, middle-aged man who pretends to be enthusiastic to serve Austria-Hungary in World War I. The Good Soldier Švejk is the abbreviated title; the original Czech title of the work is Osudy dobrého vojáka Švejka za světové války, literally The Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier Švejk During the World War. The book is the most translated novel of Czech literature, having been translated into over 50 languages. In this article you will be able download The good soldier by Jaroslav Hasek as well do the following:
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Summary of the good soldier Svejk by Jaroslav Hasek
Good-natured and garrulous, Švejk becomes the Austro-Hungarian army’s most loyal Czech soldier when he is called up on the outbreak of the First World War – although his bumbling attempts to get to the front serve only to prevent him from reaching it. Playing cards, getting drunk and becoming a general nuisance, the resourceful Švejk uses all his natural cunning and genial subterfuge to deal with the doctors, police, clergy and officers who chivvy him towards battle. The story of a ‘little man’ caught in a vast bureaucratic machine, The Good Soldier Švejk combines dazzling wordplay and piercing satire to create a hilariously subversive depiction of the futility of war. Cecil Parrott’s vibrant, unabridged and unbowdlerized translation is accompanied by an introduction discussing Hašek’s turbulent life as an anarchist, communist and vagranty, and the Everyman character of Švejk. This edition also includes a guide to Czech names, maps and original illustrations by Josef Ladas.
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About the author of The Good Soldier Svejk – Jaroslav Hasek
Jaroslav Hašek (April 30, 1883 – January 3, 1923) was a Czech humorist and satirist who became well-known mainly for his voluminous novel The Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier Švejk, translated by now into sixty languages. He had also wrritten some 1,500 other stories. He was a journalist, bohemian, and practical joker. Hašek was born in Praha (Prague), Austria-Hungary (now in the Czech Republic), the son of middle-school math teacher Josef Hašek and his wife Kateřina. Poverty forced the family, with three children — another son Bohuslav, three years Jaroslav’s younger, and an orphan cousin Maria — to move often, more than ten times during his infancy. He never knew a real home, and this rootlessness clearly influenced his life of wanderlust. When he was thirteen, Hašek’s father died, and his mother was unable to raise him firmly. The teenage boy dropped out of high school at the age of 15 to become a druggist, but eventually graduated from business school. He worked briefly as a bank officer, but later preferred the liberated profession of a writer.
Hašek made fun of everyone and everything, including himself. He cared nothing for style or schools of literature — he considered his work a job, not art — and wrote spontaneously. He made jokes not only on paper, but also in real life, angering many who considered him lazy, irresponsible, a vagabond, a drunkard, etc.
In 1910 he married Jarmila Mayerová, herself an author. In 1911, he wrote his first stories about Švejk. He was a keen observer of human affairs using his material as a newspaperman, entertainer, war correspondent, political outreach and propaganda writer (for ultimately irreconcilable parties to the WWI and Russian Civil War), among other things, and not an anarchist first and foremost. As for his military associations and exploits, during WWI Hašek was first a combatant of the Austro-Hungarian army. After crossing over to the other side on the Russian front (as did tens of thousands of Czechs), he spent seven months in the POW camp in Totskoye where he contracted typhus. Sent back to Kiev, he was a reporter for the Čechoslovan magazine as a member of the Czecho-Slovak Legions there and participated in the famous battle at Zborov.
After the collapse of the Russian Provisional Government’s summer offensive in Ukraine, disagreeing with the Legions leadership’s decision to transport the troops to France by going to Vladivostok in the east, he joined the retreating Russian Corps of Colonel Mikhail Artemyevich Muravyov who wanted to continue the war and push west with the help of the Czecho-Slovak Legions after coming to support them at Zborov. Muravyov ultimately sided with the Social Revolutionaries and Anarchists who also opposed Lenin’s Brest-Litovsk peace treaty. When he was named the commander of the eastern front, his Corps were expected to fight the Czecho-Slovak Legions in the Volga region.
In early July of 1918, while Hašek was his courier communicating with the Czecho-Slovak Legions in Bugulma, Muravyov left the front open to join the Left SRs and Anarchists in the ill-fated attempt to tople the Bolsheviks in Moscow. When Muravyov returned to Simbirsk in the Free Volga Soviet Republic — that was controled by the SRs and Anarchists — as the Supreme Commander of its Army, he was shot resisting arrest in a setup by the Bolsheviks. The Civil War began in earnest.
Two weeks later the Czecho-Slovak Legions issued an arrest warrant for Jaroslav Hašek. The following events would make for a grand Hollywood “eastern” movie. On August 6, 1918 the Legions captured the Tzar’s treasure in the battle for Kazan, while Trotsky’s armored train rushed to the region from Moscow. The Legions took the treasure on ships to Samara. In mid-August Hašek was ordered by Trotsky’s reconnaissance troops leader, Larisa Reisner, to keep an eye on the treasure and report via the Bolshevik underground.
With the SRs and Anarchist defeated at the hands of the Bolsheviks, eradicating the vanquished with whom he’s been working on one hand, and the Legions seeking his arrest and aiming for Vladivostok instead of going west on the other hand, Hašek didn’t have much choice. He was given another chance by the Bolsheviks and made the best of it. Due to his literacy and knowledge of languages, he was quickly put to work cranking out propaganda for the Fifth Army of the Red Army among the Bashkir, Mordvin, Chinese, Volga Germans and other ethnic groups. He even became a Deputy Military Commander of the town of Bugulma and the Chief of the 5th Army’s International Section of its Political Department. His multilingual propaganda work for the Communists during the Russian Civil War lasted almost three years. In December 1920 he returned to Prague to be shunned by his former friends and associates. He started working on his masterpiece, which is a result of unusually rich, varied and uncommon life experiences. [The last five paragraphs have been gleaned from the novel Osudy humoristy Jaroslava Haška v říši carů a komisařů i doma v Čechách (The Fateful Adventures of Jaroslav Hasek in the Empire of the Czars and Commissars And Even at Home in the Czechlands) by Pavel Gan who based it on a number of his contextual studies about Jaroslav Hašek.]
In August of 1921 Hašek arrived in Lipnice nad Sázavou where he wrote Books Two, Three, and the unfinished Book Four. Toward the end he was dangerously overweight. Before the New Year’s eve of 1922 he became gravely ill. In the end he no longer wrote, but dictated the chapters of Švejk from his bedroom at Invald’s pub. On January 3rd, 1923, he died in the cottage he bought shortly before that across the street from the pub where he worked on his masterpiece. He is buried around the corner, at the Lipnice Old.
Information about the book- Jaroslav Hasek
- Publisher : Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (December 27, 2005)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 784 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0140449914
- ISBN-13 : 978-0140449914
- Reading age : 18 years and up
- Item Weight : 1.17 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.11 x 1.43 x 7.79 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #33,069 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #101 in Comedic Dramas & Plays
- #410 in Fiction Satire
- #665 in War Fiction (Books)
- Customer Reviews: 4.5 out of 5 stars 236 ratings
Major characters in the good svejk by Jaroslav Hasek
The characters of The Good Soldier Švejk are generally either used as the butt of Hašek’s absurdist humour or represent fairly broad social and ethnic stereotypes found in the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the time. Some characters in this book are to varying degrees based on real people who served with the Imperial and Royal 91st Infantry Regiment, in which Hašek served as a one-year volunteer. Below are some of the major characters in the book
Josef Švejk: The novel’s hero: in civilian life a dealer in stolen dogs. Based partly on František Strašlipka, the young batman to Oberleutnant Rudolf Lukas, Hašek’s company commander.
Palivec: The foul-mouthed landlord of Švejk’s local pub – the “U Kalicha” (“At the Chalice”) on Na Bojišti street, Prague. Despite refusal to discuss any politics (“it smells of Pankrác”) Palivec is eventually arrested by Bretschneider (see below) after commenting that flies shit on the portrait of Franz Joseph in the pub.
Police Agent Bretschneider: A secret policeman who repeatedly tries to catch Švejk and others out on their anti-monarchist views. He is eventually eaten by his own dogs, after buying a succession of animals from Švejk in an attempt to incriminate him.
Staff Warder Slavík: A cruel and corrupt prison official (revealed to have himself ended up in prison under the Republic of Czechoslovakia).
Military chaplain Otto Katz: Has a fondness for drinking, especially good communion wine, and gambling. Švejk seems fond of Katz, but the latter loses the services of Švejk to Lieutenant Lukáš in a game of cards.
Oberleutnant Lukáš: Švejk’s long-suffering company commander. A Czech from South Bohemia, Lukáš is something of a womanizer but is depicted in a broadly sympathetic manner by Hašek (the records of the real-life 91st Regiment show an Oberleutnant Rudolf Lukas – the same rank as the character – at the time of Hašek’s service; Hašek admired Lukas and even wrote him a number of poems. Lukas was Hašek’s company commander.) Though Švejk’s actions eventually lead to Lukáš’ being labelled as a notorious philanderer in the Hungarian national press, he starts to miss Švejk after the latter is promoted to company orderly.
Colonel Friedrich Kraus von Zillergut: An idiotic Austrian officer with a penchant for giving his colleagues long-winded, moronic explanations of everyday objects (such as thermometers and postage stamps) and situations; run over by a cart while attempting to demonstrate what a pavement is. Kraus’s dog is stolen by Švejk as a gift for Lukáš; the enraged colonel subsequently arranges Lukáš’s transfer to the front.
Captain Ságner: One of the regiment’s professional officers and commander of Švejk’s march battalion; an ambitious careerist, he is later revealed to have been a closet Czech patriot in his youth. A Captain Vinzenz Sagner served in the 91st Regiment, where he was Hašek’s battalion commander.
Colonel Schröder: The bad-tempered colonel of Švejk’s regiment, and a caricature of typical German-speaking senior officers of the Austrian army.
Jurajda: The battalion’s spiritualist cook; before military service he had edited an “occultist” journal. Spends time attempting to avoid frontline service through letters he is writing to his wife, in which he details meals he is intending to cook for senior officers.
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I’ve read The Good Soldier Švejk twice – once when I was still adolescent and second time when I was already an adult. I enjoyed it both times, though quite differently.
Everything begins on the eve of the Great War…
“So they’ve killed Ferdinand,” said the charwoman to Mr. Schweik who, having left the army many years before, when a military medical board had declared him to be chronically feebleminded, earned a livelihood by the sale of dogs – repulsive mongrel monstrosities for whom he forged pedigrees. Apart from this occupation, he was afflicted with rheumatism, and was just rubbing his knees with embrocation.
“Which Ferdinand, Mrs. Muller?” asked Schweik, continuing to massage his knees. “I know two Ferdinands. One of them does jobs for Prusa the chemist, and one day he drank a bottle of hair oil by mistake; and then there’s Ferdinand Kokoska who goes round collecting manure. They wouldn’t be any great loss, either of ‘em.”
Besides many other things, this extravagant tale seems to be one of the first examples of postmodern novels full of delicious black humour.
I really don’t know why those loonies get so angry when they’re kept there. You can crawl naked on the floor, howl like a jackal, rage and bite. If anyone did this anywhere on the promenade people would be astonished, but there it’s the most common or garden thing to do. There’s a freedom there which not even Socialists have ever dreamed of. This world of ours is a huge lunatic asylum and we all are patients there.
The Czech antidote to Heller’s Catch-22 (a wonderful but overpraised anti-war satire), this anarchistic (and openly misogynistic) classic is bolder, bawdier, barmier and another B-bouncing word than Heller’s similar book thing. The premise here is that the balding and plump Švejk (or so he appears in the smile-raising illustrations) pretends to be an idiot to “dodge the draft,” but his motivations are deeper and his brain power plumper—he remembers his officer’s orders verbatim and is able to parrot their barked orders back at them, riling his superiors simply by showing up their lamebrained hypocrisy at every opportunity. The remarkable thing about this not-always-hilarious, but relentlessly entertaining book is that Hašek was an educated hobo who spent his time bumming the railroads, pulling this masterpiece out his pants while living a true on-the-edge anarchist life. The novel is punk slapstick. The comedy here spins out into shows like Bilko, Dad’s Army, MASH (asterisks omitted) and so on—with nice and nasty satirical strafings and knifings for fans of that kind of thing. Essential for all ages 3 and up.
Review updated on 4/1/2016.
A simple Czech person Svejk became a soldier in Austro-Hungarian Army in the beginning of World War I. is way to become one was anything but straight: despite his wholehearted attempts to enlist the moment he heard about the war, he kept stumbling from one absurd situation into another ending up literally everywhere except for the Army. When he finally gets there, even more ridiculous situations keep happening to him thanks to the military life which defies common sense most of the time.
This is a satirical book which manages to be a humor book as well. The humor part is really great: the book was written almost one hundred years ago, and it is still funny; I laughed really hard while reading the book, and I think the scene where Svejk brings drunk chaplain home has got to be one of the funniest one in the literature. Now comes the satirical part: at the first glance it looks like Svejk is a complete idiot. Actually I take it back: it would be an insult to the people with this mental deficiency to call him that; Svejk is way past this point. Once you stop and think about what happens in the book, it turns out he actually always prevails over the huge and baroque bureaucratic machine of the military and civil life in pre-war Central Europe. His behavior can be considered a mockery of this machine: Svejk is a little guy caught in there, but he wins all the time: no matter how idiotic and bizarre his actions are, even bigger idiocy of bureaucracy makes him a winner.
I read this book after my military service, it added to the fun in reading when I realized not much has changed in the military since World War I; the bureaucratic organization of the military is still there and most of the reasons we start modern wars are still the same. I also strongly suggest reading about the author of this book Jaroslav Hašek.
His life was anything but common. Sadly he died before finishing the book, but the story has a feeling of being finished nonetheless. It would probably not be an exaggeration to call this novel to be the best satire on the World War I.
Customers reviews on Amazon about The good soldier Svejk by Jaroslav Hasek
Reviewed in the United States on November 7, 2016
Had to go to Amazon for this – couldn’t find it in a bookstore. Classic Eastern European dry wit and ironic fatalism . . . the perfect attitude for an unenthusiastic soldier marching off to a war he doesn’t understand, doesn’t care to be involved in, and has nothing to gain by participating – except maybe a marble headstone with his name on it, if even that. If you appreciate Eastern European “dark humor” in the vein of Kundera, Wolfe, Gogol, or Bulgakov, you’ll love this work. The same can be said for Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five,” Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22,” or Mark Twain’s hilarious short story “A History of a Campaign that Failed” . . . appreciate the ironic, “dark humor” of these works, get “The Good Soldier Svejk.” Highly recommended by this ex-professor of English and lover of sarcastic, raucous, and irreverent literature.
Reviewed in the United States on August 11, 2015
It’s hard to pin a quality rating on a translation, but the writing here is excellent, regardless of whether it’s by Hasek or the translator from Czech.
This is the only work I know of that finds humor in WW I. The hero, Svejk, is as dumb as a fox, similar to Charlie Chaplin and the Marx Brothers. He instinctively runs circles around the officers and civilian officials who keep trying to get him to his regiment, where they expect he will be killed immediately. Along the way. Sveijk gums up all the grandiose plans of his “superiors.” Read this for the laughs, not for historical facts. It helps to know a little about the history of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Some experience as an enlisted man in the US Army would also help set the stage for understanding where Sveijk is coming from.
Reviewed in the United States on October 20, 2014
A must-read, once perhaps, for any serious military historian or historian of early 20th Century Europe. Hasek’s writing style is varied, depending on circumstances (and sobriety), which can make the book a challenge to read sometimes but that’s part of the story too. At times absurdly hilarious and often scandalous in its treatment of the royalty, this book was banned throughout much of Europe in the 1930s. While not as powerfully simple as “All Quiet on the Western Front,” this book carries a strong message about the waste and folly of military campaigns of the day. I enjoyed reading this book and I passed it along to another historian because, as good as it was, I doubted I’d reread it anytime soon.
5.0 out of 5 stars Very funny and perceptive
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 27, 2009
The storyline of “Svejk” is easily summarised-a Czech soldier survives the First World War by sheer stupidity.
Parrott’s translation is rare indeed,because even the jokes survive.I believe this is the first more or less unexpurgated transaltion into English,and it is of a very high class.His depiction of army chaplins(Hasek detested religion)is truly hilarious.
There’s so many good points to this book,it’s silly to try to pick out highlights as it works as a totality,not a collection of episodes.
As well as a very funny novel,Hasek’s work is often seen as an allegory of Czech and Czechslovak history in the 20th century.As Svejk survives the First World War,the Czechs have survived the Austro-Hungarian Empire,the 1st World War,independence,dismemberment and occupation after the 1938 Munich Conference,mass murder of Czech Jews and Roma,the impositon of Stalinism after 1948,the crushing of the Prague Spring,and self-inflicted dismemberment-the “Velvet Divorce” of 1993.As Svejk survives anything,so do the Czechs-no matter what history throws at them.
5.0 out of 5 stars The absurdity of it all
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 3, 2012
There are loads of reviews already here, and most are pretty accurate. Yes, it’s a bit long, some of it is rambling (Sir Cecil Parrott makes the point in the introduction that Hasek was probably drunk when he wrote parts of it). For me, it is best dipped into at various points, read over many years; in fact that is one of its strengths, as the plot is fairly incidental.
I love it as I work for the government(as a teacher actually). Anyone who works for the government, or has the misfortune to encounter it any more than they have to, knows how absurb and pointless all government can be, and how pompous those who take it seriously are. In the age of targets, appraisal, “continuous professional development”, action plans, development plans (or whatever the latest government speak is), this is the antidote. Read it, laugh, weep.
PS his short stories are great too!
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