Jaroslav Hašek (Czech: [ˈjaroslav ˈɦaʃɛk]; 30 April 1883 – 3
January 1923) was a Czech writer, humorist, satirist, journalist,
bohemian and anarchist. He is best known for his novel The Good
Soldier Švejk, an unfinished collection of farcical incidents about a
World War I
World War I and a satire on the ineptitude of authority
figures. The novel has been translated into about 60 languages, making
it the most translated novel in Czech literature.
1 Life and work
1.2 Political activism
1.4 In the Austro-Hungarian army
1.5 In Russia
1.6 Later years
4 See also
6 Further reading
7 External links
Life and work
Hašek was born in Prague,
Bohemia (then within Austria-Hungary, now
capital of the Czech Republic), the son of high-school math teacher
Josef Hašek and his wife Kateřina. Poverty forced the family, with
three children—Jaroslav, another son Bohuslav (three years Hašek's
junior) and an orphan cousin Maria—to move often: more than 15 times
during his infancy. He never knew a real home, and this rootlessness
clearly influenced his life of wanderlust. When he was 13 his father
died from excessive alcohol intake, 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 clerk in 1903 before embarking on
a career as a freelance writer and journalist. At the end of
1910/early 1911 he was also a dog salesman (an occupation he was to
attribute to his hero Švejk and from which some of the improbable
anecdotes told by Švejk are drawn).
In 1906 he joined the anarchist movement, having taken part in the
1897 anti-German riots in
Prague as a schoolboy. He gave lectures to
groups of socialist workers and, in 1907, became the editor of the
anarchist journal Komuna. As an anarchist in the Austro-Hungarian
Empire, his movements were closely monitored by the police and he was
frequently arrested and imprisoned; his offences include numerous
cases of vandalism and at least one case of assaulting a police
officer, for which he spent a month in prison. He satirised the
lengths to which the Austrian police would go to entrap suspected
political subversives in the opening chapters of The Good Soldier
Švejk. In 1911 he founded the satirical political party The Party of
Moderate Progress Within the Bounds of the Law.
Hašek met Jarmila Mayerová in 1907, and fell in love with her.
However, due to his bohemian lifestyle, her parents found him an
unsuitable match for their daughter. In response to this, Hašek
attempted to back away from his radical politics and get a settled job
as a writer. When he was arrested for vandalising a flag in Prague,
Mayerová's parents took her into the country, in the hope that this
would end their relationship. This move was unsuccessful in that it
failed to end the affair, but did result in Hašek renewing his focus
on writing. In 1909 he had 64 short stories published, over twice as
many as in any previous year, and he was also appointed editor of the
journal Svět zvířat (The Animal World). This job did not last long,
however, as he was soon dismissed for publishing articles about
imaginary animals which he had dreamed up (though this furnished
further material for Švejk).
On 23 May 1910 he married Jarmila. Despite the long courtship, the
marriage proved an unhappy one and lasted little more than a year.
Mayerová went back to live with her parents in 1911 after her husband
was caught trying to fake his own death. At the outbreak of World War
I, Hašek lived periodically with cartoonist Josef Lada, who later
illustrated The Good Soldier Švejk.
In the Austro-Hungarian army
In December 1914 Hašek was drafted and joined the Austro-Hungarian
army on 17 February 1915. His unit was the replacement battalion of
the 91st Infantry Regiment, located in
České Budějovice (from June
1 in Királyhida). Hašek immediately enlisted at the school for
reserve officers but already on 6 March he was hospitalised. His
medical reports reveal that he suffered from heart problems and
rheumatism. As a result, he was dismissed from regular army service,
but continued in the army, being assigned lighter duties. He took part
in the battle of
Sokal at the end of July, and was awarded a silver
medal for bravery after the battle. He did not spend long fighting in
the front line: he was captured by the Russians on 24 September 1915.
Countless details and fragments from Hašek's own experiences in the
91st Regiment found their way into the novel. Several of the
characters in Švejk are based on people he met there: Lukáš,
Vaněk, Biegler, Ságner, Schröder, Wenzl, Adamička, Ibl. Long
stretches of the route described in the novel correspond to the 12th
March Battalion's own journey. Their train transport started from
Királyhida on 30 June and ended at
Sambir on 4 July. The journey
continued on foot, and on reaching the front on 11 July Hašek was
assigned to the 11th Field Co., commanded by Senior Lt. Rudolf Lukas.
His battalion commander was Senior Lt. Vinzenz Sagner. He also served
as a company messenger (orderly), another parallel to Švejk.
At the camp in
Totskoye he contracted typhus, but later had a more
comfortable existence. In June 1916 he was recruited as a volunteer to
join the Czechoslovak Brigade, a unit of mainly Czech volunteers that
were fighting the Austro-Hungarian empire.
This unit was later to become known as the Czecho-Slovak Legions.
There he acted in turn as a clerk, journalist, soldier and recruitment
agent until February 1918. In March 1918 the
Czech Legion embarked on
a journey to join the Western Front via Vladivostok, at times
controlling most of the Trans-Siberian railway and several major
cities in Siberia. Hašek disagreed with this move and opted to leave
the legion in favor of Czech and Russian Bolsheviks. From October 1918
he joined the Red Army, mainly working as a recruiter and propaganda
writer. In 1920 he remarried (although still married to Jarmila).
Statue of Jaroslav Hašek
Statue of Jaroslav Hašek in Žižkov, near the pubs where he wrote
some of his works
He eventually returned to
Prague in December 1920. However, in some
circles he was not a popular figure, being branded a traitor and a
bigamist, and struggled to find a publisher for his works.
Before the war, in 1912, he had published the book The Good Soldier
Švejk and other strange stories (Dobrý voják Švejk a jiné
podivné historky) where the figure of Švejk appeared for the first
time; but it was only after the war in his famous novel that Švejk
became a sancta simplicitas, a cheerful idiot who joked about the war
as if it were a tavern brawl. By this time, Hašek had become gravely
ill and dangerously overweight. He no longer wrote, but dictated the
chapters of Švejk from his bedroom in the village of Lipnice, where
he died on 3 January 1923 of heart failure. In his lifetime Hašek
published about 1,500 short stories.
Since his death, all of Hašek's short stories have been collected and
published in the Czech language.
For decades, until 2000, a Festival of humor and satire "Haškova
Lipnice" had been held in Lipnice. It was started again in 2012.
The Argentinian writer
Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges used the Hašek work as
source of inspiration in all his oeuvre. In the book "the aleph" and
"the book of sand", Borges use many of the elements and topics commons
in Hasek writing, for that reason many academics of Barcelona and
Berlin thinks that the argentinian commits plagiarism, Raccon
professor expert in the work of Borges explains "Plagiarism never, he
always thought in
Jaroslav Hašek like the greatest master and the
tribute is clear".
Hašek’s 130th birthday was the subject of a Google Doodle on April
2734 Hašek was named after Jaroslav Hašek.
7896 Švejk was named after the main character of his most
EuroCity class train on the route
Prague – Bratislava – Budapest
České dráhy bears the name Jaroslav Hašek.
Statue of Jaroslav Hašek
^ Jaroslav Hasek's 130th Birthday (CZ) Google, 2013
The Good Soldier Švejk
The Good Soldier Švejk and His Fortunes in the World War, translated
by Cecil Parrott, with original illustrations by Josef Lada
The Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier Švejk During the World
War, translated by Zenny K. Sadlon
The Red Commissar: Including further adventures of the good soldier
Švejk and other stories
Bachura Scandal and Other Stories and Sketches, translated by Alan
Biography by Cecil Parrott, The Bad Bohemian
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jaroslav Hašek.
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Jaroslav Hašek
Petri Liukkonen. "Jaroslav Hašek". Books and Writers
Virtuální muzeum Jaroslava Haška a Josefa Švejka (Czech)
A comprehensive site, mostly in Czech, but also partly in English
Jaroslav Hasek – essays, biographies, memoirs, gallery of images
Radio Pytlik, biographer of Jaroslav Hašek, interview (Czech)
The Good Soldier Švejk
The Good Soldier Švejk (1923)
The Good Soldier Schweik (1926)
The Good Soldier Schweik (1931)
The Good Soldier Schweik (1955)
The Good Soldier Schweik (1956)
The Good Soldier Schweik (1960)
Schweik in the Second World War (play)
ISNI: 0000 0001 2095 4918
BNF: cb11906978q (data)