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The Good Soldier Svejk (1922)

by Jaroslav Hašek

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Good Soldier Svejk (1-4)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,504623,590 (3.97)2 / 255
Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:Jaroslav Hasek's world-famous satirical farce The Good Soldier Svejk has been translated into over sixty languages, and is one of the best-known Czech works ever published. A soldier in the First World War who never actually sees any combat, Josef Svejk is The Good Soldier's awkward protagonist - and none of the other characters can quite decide whether his bumbling efforts to get to the front are genuine or not. Often portrayed as one of the first anti-war novels, Hasek's classic satire is a tour-de-force of modernist writing, influencing later writers such as Hemingway, Faulkner, and Joseph Heller.… (more)
  1. 50
    Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (roby72)
  2. 11
    The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin by Vladimir Vojnovitsj (pgmcc)
    pgmcc: Chonkin is very similar to Svejk. The humour and satire are very similar; as is the exposition of bureaucratic nonsense.
  3. 00
    Goma de borrar (Spanish Edition) by Josep Montalat (Anonymous user)
  4. 00
    The dead souls by Nikolai Gogol (CGlanovsky)
  5. 00
    Schlump by Hans Herbert Grimm (sneuper)
    sneuper: A novel about with many layers: humoristic and satiric at the surface, but realistic and a bitter complaint against war underneath.
  6. 00
    The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth (aprille)
  7. 00
    The Tin Drum by Günter Grass (aprille)
  8. 01
    A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Misguided protagonist gets into a series of misadventures
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» See also 255 mentions

English (45)  Italian (3)  Spanish (3)  Slovak (1)  Swedish (1)  Catalan (1)  French (1)  Hungarian (1)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  Estonian (1)  Norwegian (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (61)
Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
Ich lach mich futsch! Eine unglaublich witzige Satire auf k. u k., die österreichische Bürokratie und allgemeine Idiotien der Armee. Die wunderbarsten Flüche finden sich hier.
Der erste Teil ist der beste, den vierten Teil kann man sich auch sparen.. ( )
  sunforsiberia | Dec 28, 2023 |
First, will say there are a couple of misogynist bits and one particularly bad racist page right near the start of volume 2 chapter 3 that can easily be skipped

Overall there are lots of laugh out moments. The rambling anecdotes of Svejk are inane and "utter tripe" as Lieutenant Lukas describes them but Hasek (and the translator) writes the stories fluently so that even when there's not really a joke they're a pleasure to read. I think in general the only wider criticism I have against it there's too much filler where nothing is happening - it's still fine to read, just could easily have been 5 star with a bit of trimming. The humour is great mostly and the regular juxtaposition of a light-hearted story with a deadly conclusion is always striking. The general illustration of the absurdity and futility of war and militaries in general is great and shown through many funny vignettes. ( )
  tombomp | Oct 31, 2023 |
Not quite as satisfying on a reread, but still one of the great 20th Century picaresques and a seminal war satire, passing the baton directly from Simplicissimus to the likes of Heller and Eastlake. The characters are indelible: the terminally uptight Lt Dub, the apelike, arm-swinging glutton Baloun, the long-suffering but essentially noble Lt Lukáš, and of course Švejk himself with his inexhaustible fund of pointless anecdotes and reductio ad absurdums, a kind of super-moronic Sancho Panza (to Lukáš' Quixote?) whose response to the idiocy of endless war is to meet it on its own idiotic, interminable terms.

Hašek's disgust for the role of the Church in war is extremely palpable. Here he is describing some prayer-cards, penned by the Archbishop of Budapest and distributed to the men by a couple of well-meaning old ladies:

According to the venerable archbishop the merciful Lord ought to cut the Russians, British, Serbs, French and Japanese into mincemeat, and make a paprika goulash out of them. The merciful Lord ought to bathe in the blood of the enemies and murder them all, as the ruthless Herod had done with the Innocents.

His Eminence, the Archbishop of Budapest, used in his prayers such beautiful sentences as for instance: 'God bless your bayonets that they may pierce deeply into your enemies' bellies. May the most just Lord direct the artillery fire onto the heads of the enemy staffs. May merciful God grant that all your enemies choke in their own blood from the wounds which you will deal them!'


And although the plot, such as it is, never makes it to any actual combat (I wonder if it would have done had the author lived to complete it?), the horror of the front is never far away. Here's an anonymous character in a discussion on the prevalence of shit on the battlefield:

'And a dead man, who lay on top of the cover with his legs hanging down and half of whose head had been torn off by shrapnel, just as though he'd been cut in half, he too in the last moment shitted so much that it ran from his trousers over his boots into the trenches mixed with blood. And half his skull together with his brains lay right underneath. A chap doesn't even notice how it happens to him.'


Ultimately though, Švejk is a pre-postmodern work, the theatre of war meeting the theatre of the absurd. Exchanges like this, very near the end of the book, capture the spirit of it, I think:

Vaněk asked with interest:

'How long do you think the war will go on, Švejk?'

'Fifteen years,' answered Švejk. 'That's obvious because once there was a thirty years' war and now we're twice as clever as they were before.'


And at its heart, amid all the inanity, the tedium, the degradations, if you squint very hard, there's a kernel of something decent:

Lieutenant Lukáš walked along the track thinking: 'I ought to have given him a few on the jaw, but instead I've been gossiping with him as though he were a friend.'
( )
2 vote yarb | Oct 2, 2023 |
Couldn’t get into this. The side stories are to frequent and drove me crazy. Which may have well been the author’s point. But not for me ( )
  vdt_melbourne | Jul 2, 2023 |
Occasionally laugh out loud funny, but it is a long one gag story. ( )
  markm2315 | Jul 1, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (57 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jaroslav Hašekprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brick, DanielTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fiedler, Leslie A.Forewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hill, JamesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lada, JosefIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meriggi, BrunoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parrott, CecilTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pieters, RoelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Poggioli, RenatoContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Polgar, AlfredIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reiner, GreteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reiner, GreteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Selver, PaulTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zgustová, MonikaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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'And so they've killed our Ferdinand', said the charwoman to Mr Svejk, who had left military service years before, after having been finally certified by an army medical board as an imbecile, and now lived by selling dogs - ugly, mongrel monstrosities whose pedigrees he forged.
"Nii nad tapsidki meie Ferdinandi," ütles virtin härra Švejkile, kes oli aastate eest vabanenud sõjaväeteenistusest, kui kroonuarstide komisjon ta lõplikult lolliks tunnistas, ja elatas ennast nüüd sellega, et müütas mingeid jõledaid segaverelisi koerapeletisi, võltsides nende sugupuud.
„Tak nám zabili Ferdinanda,“ řekla posluhovačka panu Švejkovi, který opustiv před léty vojenskou službu, když byl definitivně prohlášen vojenskou lékařskou komisí za blba, živil se prodejem psů, ošklivých nečistokrevných oblud, kterým padělal rodokmeny.
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The Good Soldier Svejk (Schweik, Schwejk, Svejkin...) was written as 4 volumes. Modern editions are often a selection from all of them, but let's try to keep those published as the original volumes separate.
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Wikipedia in English (4)

Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:Jaroslav Hasek's world-famous satirical farce The Good Soldier Svejk has been translated into over sixty languages, and is one of the best-known Czech works ever published. A soldier in the First World War who never actually sees any combat, Josef Svejk is The Good Soldier's awkward protagonist - and none of the other characters can quite decide whether his bumbling efforts to get to the front are genuine or not. Often portrayed as one of the first anti-war novels, Hasek's classic satire is a tour-de-force of modernist writing, influencing later writers such as Hemingway, Faulkner, and Joseph Heller.

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Average: (3.97)
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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