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The Good Soldier Švejk

(Osudy dobrého vojáka Švejka za světové války #1-4)

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  15,228 ratings  ·  989 reviews
In The Good Soldier Švejk, celebrated Czech writer and anarchist Jaroslav Hašek combined dazzling wordplay and piercing satire in a hilariously subversive depiction of the futility of war.

Good-natured and garrulous, Švejk becomes the Austrian army's most loyal Czech soldier when he is called up on the outbreak of World War I -- although his bumbling attempts to get to the
Paperback, 752 pages
Published April 28th 2005 by Penguin Classics (first published 1923)
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Eliška Josef Lada. He is best known as the illustrator of Jaroslav Hašek's World War I novel The Good Soldier Švejk, having won the Deutscher Jugendliteratur…moreJosef Lada. He is best known as the illustrator of Jaroslav Hašek's World War I novel The Good Soldier Švejk, having won the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis in 1963.(less)
Zenny His age is not mentioned in the book. But we know he's already a veteran of previous war(s). Therefore, he's certainly not in his twenties. …moreHis age is not mentioned in the book. But we know he's already a veteran of previous war(s). Therefore, he's certainly not in his twenties. (less)

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Glenn Russell

"Nowadays it's fun being locked up," Švejk continued with relish. "There's no quartering, no Spanish boots. We've got bunks, a table, a bench. We're not all squashed together like sardines: we get soup; they give us bread and bring us a jug of water. We've got our latrines right under our snouts. You can see progress in everything."

Jaroslav Hašek was a born practical joker and mischief-maker. What better author to write a comic novel that's also a war novel than this renowned literary Czech hoax
MJ Nicholls
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 pa ...more
Vit Babenco
Apr 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
I believe it is 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 m
Probably the funniest book ever written about the first world war.

This isn't really a novel, more of a series of anecdotes linked together by a few characters and whose narrative drive grows weaker as the work progresses. It was written in instalments and I have never heard tell that there was an overall plan for the book.

Much of what happens and even bizarre stories like the editor who invented new animals to write about for a regular animal magazine are drawn from Hašek's own experiences.

It wa
Apr 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: humor
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.
The Good Soldier Svejk
His 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 sen
Apr 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-10-2015, czech, wwi
Humbly report, Sir, but I've been reading this book called The Good Soldier Švejk which I had not planned to read as part of my World War I project, but there you have it. It's a satire of the stupidity of war, of governments and armies and regulations, of class struggles. Of being a Czech, and nevertheless in the Austrian army. To deal with the absurdity of it all, you need an anti-hero. Which would be this guy:


One buffoonerous episode...

follows another...

and another...

Yes, the drawings
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Read this book ages ago thanks to my Dad to whom I am eternally grateful. Probably one of the best novels of the 20th century on war.
Aug 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Jaroslav Hašek was an anarchist and anarchy runs through The Good Soldier Švejk like a stick of rock. It's anti-war, anti-establishment, anti-religion and, some say, even funnier than Catch-22. Apparently Joseph Heller based his hero Yossarian on Švejk. I read Catch-22 far too long ago to make a valid comparison. Oh, and Bertholt Brecht declared it the greatest book of the twentieth century. And, I can confirm, it really is quite something....

This Penguin Classics edition of The Good Soldier Šv
So many composers have translated stories into music. I was thinking that if this story could be translated into an operetta, or even a cabaret, it would become a medley of innocence, honesty, madness, brutality and a world happily going mad, while we, the audience, laugh ourselves to death, merrily tapping our feet to the rhythm of the orchestra.

I had the same feeling and reaction when I read Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Berniers. And then later on with 100-year-old Man Who Climbed Ou
Anthony Buckley
Mar 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everybody
The first time I read this book, as a teenager, I could not see the point. So I put it down without finishing it. Now I see it as one of the great books. The character of Svejk is straight out of folklore. He is the foolish man who somehow kills the giant, gets the princess and claims the gold. Except that here is no fairy tale, but a story of war and a story of bureaucrats and officialdom.

Specifically, we at first witness Svejk, a bumbling lower class oaf who has been recruited into the army,
Feb 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I bought this in 1980 as a treat for finishing my A levels. I was attracted by the garish bright yellow cover and the cartoonish character on the front.

It took me into a new world, portraying the kaleidoscope of the Austo Hungarian empire through the lense of the only loyal Czech private in the whole army. Sadly Svejk is a hopeless idiot, and his part in the war is of no use to Franz Joseph.

A rambling, irreverent, irreligious and bawdy mess of a book - the author wrote the book in installments
So the story I heard was that this was the Czech Catch-22. Sold.

That's kinda true, with a strong element of A Confederacy of Dunces thrown in for good measure. The whole thing was written in installments, though, and it shows, with the first few sections absolutely killing it and Hasek slowly losing steam (like when I read Natsume's I Am a Cat, I could tell he was trying to replicate the success of the first part). The whole thing was never finished, as Hasek died before he ever had the chance.
Apr 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A vastly amusing, compulsive read, Hašek's masterpiece is, moreover, a brutal satire of humanity's foulest self-inflicted plagues - war, organized religion and a savagely oppressive State - that retains too this day its power to shock and disturb. As for Josef Švejk, perhaps no other Everyman or antihero was ever so endearing. An unforgettable book and one of the few classics (Rabelais also comes to mind) that can be consumed with such greedy, giddy delight. ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Mine is a 1943 edition of this by Penguin Books. The pages are brittle so I wasn't able to dog-ear, but all the pages are intact. Sewn-up and not merely glued, only four pages were detached. As the war was ongoing then, its back cover advertises "Penguin Specials" with titles like: "Modern Battle," "American vs. Germans," "How Russia Prepared," "How the Jap Army Fights," "New Soldier's Handbook," "Aircraft Recognition," "New Ways of War," etc. Another recommended title is "Guerrilla Warfare" wit ...more
Aug 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
I wanted to read this because I knew that Svejk was the forbear of one of the ur-texts of sad-eyed high school existentialists, namely, Catch-22. Joseph Heller said he could never have written his surreal epic without having read this WWI picaresque by Hasek. I thought I was going to love it, obviously. While perusing Svejk was interesting in a historical sense, unfortunately I ended up not finding it as enjoyable as I had hoped. Despite the many lavish descriptions of how to fight bureaucracy w ...more
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: european
“Listen, Švejk, are you really God’s prize oaf?”
“Humbly report, sir,” Švejk answered solemnly. “I am!”

The good soldier Švejk repeats this answer, in one form or another, quite a lot over the course of 892 pages of being frequently grilled by various authorities under the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War One. You, the reader, will be entirely at liberty to ascertain the truth of the matter!

This was a re-read for me after many years. I remember as a young person being utterly amazed at it, as
The satirical tale of a czech soldier, part of the austro-hungarian army during WWI. A lot of the humour of this story still holds up well. It would have been nice to know that the book is unfinished, however although you'd like more closure the story still stands up well as it is.
Svejk is very much like Baldric from Black Adder or Homer Simpson, but your never entirely sure how stupid he is. Oh he's certainly not the brightest but behind that suspiciously honest face is a pretty devious mind,
May 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: humor, 1001-books, g1000
Well thank goodness that's over!

It's not that it was bad, it was that it was so overly long and repetitive that the mild humour became overshadowed by the 'oh here we go again' as the anti hero launched into one of his innumerable tales about dog only knows what until my eyes glazed over, my brain melted out my ears and I thought of about 10 other books that I could be reading right now instead of this.

The seemingly brainless Svejk who was called up to 'do his duty' in WWI spent all of his tim
Sep 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
If you followed TV News too much and just need something anti-militaristic and hilarious at the same time - you've found the right book! Worthlessness and cruelty of a regime (literally - Austro-Hungarian one) towards its own people, fraud, corruption and queen of them all - the WAR. Year 1914. Josef Svejk, a dog seller, drafted into army to fight on a meaningless war, somehow knows a way around those things - he feigns idiocy. And it works! Especially when we get to see who is real idiots there ...more
My initial reaction to this book after reading the first few chapters is that it reminded me of Catch-22. Sure enough, after some research, I found out that Heller credits Hasek's work as one of his key influences. If you appreciate the biting satire, base humor, and no-holds-barred castigation of bureaucratic organizations in Catch-22, you love it in Svejk as well.

Sveyk, the (seemingly) good-natured and dopey Dudley-Do-Right of the Czech contingent in the Austria-Hungarian army during WWI is a
Justin Evans
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A very amusing book, with rather diminishing rewards; there are only so many times you can make the joke about how the soldier ate the officer's food before it starts to get boring, and I more or less stopped paying attention to those jokes at the end of part two--which meant part three was more tedious than entertaining. Hasek didn't finish it, and that's probably a good thing. I fear the 1000 page monster which is still recycling jokes by page 989. It's also good because the point of the book ...more
Jun 10, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: roman, oost_europa
It took me more than two years to finish this book. Had managed to get until half-way upon buying it, but couldn't get myself to continue. Basically, it's just more and more of the same. On the other hand, that "same" is also pretty damn good. And so, after two years of hesitation I decided to give its second half another chance and liked it. This novel has brilliant satiric comedy, crazy pictures and the highest amount of anecdotes I've ever come across. It's definitely flawed in some parts, wi ...more
This WW1 classic Czech novel reminded me of Catch-22 or M.A.S.H. -- black humor about the way armies work. I much prefered this older translation to that of Sadlon's new one I started off with in Book 1 and also enjoyed Lada's illustrations this book had.
You do not find them much better! A delightful book, full of humour and with a great anti hero as MC.
The clever ways our good soldier tries to escape battle (and at the same time he convinces everyone he cannot wait to go to the war) are really entertaining. The social criticism is effective as it is brought in a humourous way.
Reading this novel, I found it sometimes hard to realize it had been written almost a century ago.
Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: czech-fiction, humor
This book is hilarious. I love Svejk. I wish I could have his attitude to life. There's a Svejk restaurant in Prague that's got images of Svejk on napkins, menus, etc. Stumbled across it one night when we were freezing cold and didn't have any more Czech money and the place we were going to eat didn't take credit cards. It was the only place around that was open and warm. Truly a Svejk moment. ...more
From BBC Radio 4 - Classical Serial:
Dramatisation by Christopher Reason of the satirical Czech novel by Jaroslav Hasek that charts the exploits of a WWI soldier.

When he seems to celebrate the death of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Svejk is arrested and so starts his progress through the ranks of the Austro-Hungarian army.
Amusing and brilliantly narrated by David Horowitz.
"A monarchy as idiotic as this ought not to exist at all."

And so the eponymous Josef Svejk summarizes this book in one sentence. This book is, above all, a parody of the Habsburg Empire during World War I--especially in regards to its bureaucracy and its nationalities policy. Scholars have been perplexed for years over whether Svejk really is an idiot, or if he fakes it with absolute success. Although the story is centered on Svejk himself, we readers--between all of the "Sir, I humbly report th
Andrew Walter
Jan 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Vanek asked with interest: "How long do you think the war will go on, Svejk?" "Fifteen years," answered Svejk. "That's obvious because once there was a Thirty Years War and now we're twice as clever as they were before, so it follows that thirty divided by two is fifteen"

This is an unusually succinct quote from our good natured Good Soldier Svejk , who is normally given to interminable rambling anecdotes to illustrate his point (or sometimes seemingly just to pass the time), and it neatly sums
Oct 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
If you like historical fiction written by contemporaries about recent events, like "All's Quiet on the Western Front," and that depict events from a new perspective - try out this hidden classic. If you don't often hear the German side of WWI in U.S. history classes, you also hear even less about the other losers like Austria-Hungary. This novel gives a great glimpse behind the scenes as the twilight years of the Hapsburgs unfold in this "first" of the Great Wars across Europe and the rest of th ...more
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Jaroslav Hašek was a Czech humorist, satirist, writer and anarchist best known for his novel The Good Soldier Švejk (Czech: Osudy dobrého vojáka Švejka za světové války), an unfinished collection of farcical incidents about a soldier in World War I and a satire on the ineptitude of authority figures, which has been translated into sixty languages. He also wrote some 1,500 short stories. He was a j ...more

Other books in the series

Osudy dobrého vojáka Švejka za světové války (3 books)
  • Osudy dobrého vojáka Švejka za světové války, 1. díl – V zázemí (Osudy dobrého vojáka Švejka za světové války #1)
  • The Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier Svejk During the World War, Book Two
  • Osudy dobrého vojáka Švejka za světové války, 4. díl – Pokračování slavného výprasku

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155 likes · 36 comments
“When Švejk subsequently described life in the lunatic asylum, he did so in exceptionally eulogistic terms: '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.” 33 likes
“Jesus Christ was innocent too,' said Svejk, 'and all the same they crucified him. No one anywhere has ever worried about a man being innocent. Maul halten und weiter dienen ['Grin and bear it and get on with the job'] - as they used to tell us in the army. That's the best and finest thing of all.” 29 likes
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