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The Good Soldier Svejk: and His Fortunes in the World War (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin) Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0140182743 ISBN-10: 0140182748

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Product Details

  • Series: Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin
  • Mass Market Paperback: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (January 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140182748
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140182743
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.3 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #733,600 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Czech (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Jaroslav HaA ek (1883-1923) Besides this book, the writer wrote more than 2,000 short works, short stories, glosses, sketches, mostly under various pen-names. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Without this book you will never understand the meaning of the word "Bohemian".
W. R. Isaacs
Where The Good Soldier Svejk might be a dark satire of the first world war it does not seem to endeavor to shock as much as Heller's Catch 22.
J.L. D.
Funny, insightful, and totally alive, this book is a comic classic and I highly recommend it.
Heather Lowe

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Hubbell on February 1, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Good Soldier Svejk is one of the classics of literature that sprang from the flesh-fertilized grounds of World War 1. But Svejk is a war book with a twist. It is profoundly funny -- hiliarious in fact, an antiwar novel that wanders throughout the realm of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire without getting anywhere near the Russian front for a long time. Unlike Remarque's brooding "All Quiet on the Western Front", or Lawrence's memoir "Seven Pillars of Wisdom", Hasek's novel views the war as a great absurdist event, a colossal stupidity witnessed by a small stupid person, Svjek (who prior to the war, made his living by selling dogs with forged pedigrees). But Svejk isn't stupid. He PLAYS dumb all right, because he knows that's how one survives. Hasek lays bare the ridiculousness of the old Habsburg monarchy: the ethnic rivalries, the endless bureaucracies, religions of convenience, the military heirarchy, as seen through the eyes of the not-as-simple-as-he-seems Czech reservist, Svjek. Through a series of mishaps, blunders, deliberate scams and other reasons, Sjvek always seems to somehow just avoid going to the front, until the very end of the book, which has kind of a surprise ending all its own. It is a wordy book (largely because Hasek wrote the book as a serial published in an Czech newspaper -- he was paid by the word), but an immensely fun one nevertheless. Considering all the serious literature that came out of the First World War, Sjvek is a hilarious treat with a serious subtext that hasn't lost its power to entertain and provoke thought. It's not to be missed.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By doc peterson VINE VOICE on October 26, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Just as Don Quixote is the seminal piece of Spanish literature, and War and Peace defines Russian lit, so does Hasek's classic capture the essence of the Bohemian soul, and the ridiculousness and pointlessness of World War I.
In doing the bare minimum to be considered competent, we see the nature of Czech resistance to Austro-Hungarian (and later, Soviet) authority - as Havel put it some fifty years later, it is the "power of the powerless" - subverting authority from within while seemingly going along with the grandious designs of the ruling elite.
Svejk is a common footsoldier - an "everyman" - who frankly would rather have a beer than fight, and has no real interest in the war or its outcome. The humor is subtle, the satire biting, the social criticism of Austro-Hungarian class structure dead on. Some of the jokes and jabs may be a bit above the heads of those not familiar with the history or culture of the region. It his, however, an enjoyable - and I dare say classic - read.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By dbrich98 on March 9, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Contrary to "a reader from Westboro, MA," I believe this is one of the best English translations ever attempted. I DO speak Czech, and have read Svejk in both languages.
My Czech professors in California urged me to buy it in 1991, saying that the translator had done a very good job of capturing some of the nuances of the Prague accent. Now that I have lived all over Bohemia, I agree. Of course, no translation can possibly be as good as the original, but this one is about as close as they come.
They also said that if I wanted to truly understand the way Czechs think, I had to read this book. Much has changed since it was written, including the typical Czech mindset. However, many of the older Czechs with whom I spoke insisted that Svejk describes the true mentality of many typical Czechs of the period, and were excited that an American would actually be interested in truly learning the cultural and literary history of such a small nation.
History buffs occasionally scratch their heads and wonder why the Czechs have always made some of the best weapons in the world, but rarely used them. With an irreverent, bumbling style, Hasek and Svejk show us why many Czechs throughout history have preferred to "switch their coats" and go with the flow of the everchanging dominant powers, rather than be trampled underfoot.
Both the book and the translation deserve five stars.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 19, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Good Soldier Svejk is like no other book I have ever read. It is truly a classic war satire and is on par with books like Catch 22. I see it as the spawn of many satires written about WWII however quite rightly no author has ever tried to replicate the style that it was written in. Jaroslav Hasek had one of the most interesting lives of any author, switching from Austro-Hungarian to Russian Monarchist to Bolshevik to Czech nationalist during WWI and his life story is reflected somewhat in his story while he illustrates it with brilliant humour.
The character of Svejk is developed in such an intricate way that makes it difficult to discover his real purposes but the book is not damaged in the slightest by the fact that it was cut short because of Hasek's untimely death. In fact it has only helped to cultivate the Svejk legend.
I encourage ANYONE to read this book. If your knowledge of Austria-Hungary and WWI is lacking, then this is the best way to learn!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Stephen M. Kerwick on June 19, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I first read Hasek's masterpiece almost 30 years ago in a shorter and more Bowdlerized translation. The Cecil Parrot edition is, needless to say, much preferable (it contains a wonderful introduction including a discussion of Czech profanity as compared to English) and I've read it again and again since it came out in 1974. Shelby Foote said somewhere that every year he reads Proust as a sort of literary vacation. About ever 2 or 3 years I reread Svejk to clean my literary palate and it's always as fresh and as enjoyable as it was the first time. The dialogue, the characters and the situations in Svejk are, stated simply, the funniest I've ever read. Many other books have many merits in this regard, but none has approached Hasek in the sustained hilarity over 500 pages or more. The secret policeman, Bretschneider, Chaplain Katz, Sergeant Major Vanek, Cadet Biegler, Balloun and Lt. Dub are each memorable characters but when they interact they surpass anything I have ever read for comedy. The term "laugh out loud" is much used and abused recently, but The Good Soldier Svejk will have you disturbing family and friends repeatedly with guffawing any time you read it in their presence. I can't give a text any higher recommendation.
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