Famous Czech Writer – Jaroslav Hašek
a) Jaroslav Hašek
Jaroslav Hašek is a Czech writer who is known as a rebel in our literature because of his life style. He was born on the 30th March 1883 in Prague as the son of a university professor. He studied a grammar school, but he had to leave because of his social position. He finished the trade academy later, but he left his job in a bank and went to the Balkans to help the Macedonian nationalists. In 1907 in Vienna he was put down on the black list as an anarchist. He was distributing anarchistic leaflets among Czech miners. In this period his life style was very eccentric. He was roaming round Europe and his home was in the pubs. He became the editor of a journal called Svět Zvířat and with his satires he teased authorities. For these satires he was arrested for a short period of time. When he was released, he established a shop with dogs. In the first year of the First World War he went to Russia and he joined the Czech legion there. However, he didn’t feel right there so he got transferred to the Red Army. He received a political function there. In 1920 he returned to his homeland. At that time he started to write his immortal Švejk. Unfortunately he didn’t finish this book because he died on the 3rd January 1923. However, the fourth episode was finished by his best friend Karel Vaněk (the book is called: The Fortunes of Good Soldier Švejk during the World War).
It is not easy to answer the question of who Švejk really is. Švejk’s behaviour, his actions and statements can be explained in two ways and it’s sometimes very difficult to interpret them. Sometimes we may think that he is a fool, at other times he seems to be very clever. However, in many cases we tend to think that he is a complete rogue. While the attitude or character of the other persons in this novel is quite easy to identify, Švejk can be considered both as a positive and a negative hero. In the character of this person, Hašek demonstrated his individual artistic technique. The characters in the novel can be sorted into two groups. One can recognise negative characters of Austrian officers representing the old system. They are introduced from the grotesque point of view of parody. On the other hand there is a group of characters representing common people. They are described with humour and pronounced sympathy. Švejk can be perceived as a bridge linking those two groups. In terms of his contact with people suffering from the tragedy of war, he plays a positive and optimistic role. Švejk’s grotesque approach to all situations is already shown in the first scene. He is sitting on a pushchair because of his rheumatism. Miss Műller is pushing him round Prague and he is screaming a war slogan „ …to Belgrade! … “.
All the scenes and episodes have one purpose: to make fun of war with folk humour. In the scenes Švejk appears not as a fool, but as a folk philosopher. However, in contact with military officers he appears as a helpful and ardent soldier. In contrast to Švejk there is Mark who personifies the intelligence’s attitude to war. It should be mentioned that Hašek also wrote the book My Shop with Dogs and Other Stories.
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