Wendy's Reviews > The Good Soldier Švejk

The Good Soldier Švejk by Jaroslav Hašek
Rate this book
Clear rating

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 well known "hero" in his home country. He represents the "little people" on a world scale, the powerless little countries that have been at the mercy of their militant neighbors throughout the 20th century. Sveyk, unable to assert any form of control on the political chaos around him, engages in a more passive-aggressive tactic. Pretending to be a patriotic supporter of the war, he ensures, through "innocent" bumbling mistakes, that more energy be required to get him to the front than necessary. Although officially labeled an "imbecile" by the military, Sveyk's canniness shines though in his ability to shame and/or outwit the forces that try to impose him (and what greater enemy of the common soldier exists than his own chain of command?) Secondary and tertiary players provide a colorful cast of caricatures: the sozzled chaplain who falls over drunk at mass, the idiot general who speaks in platitudes, the ambitious cadet whose cognac hangover is misdiagnosed as cholera, and finally the Sveyk's own well-meaning and hopelessly frustrated superior officer Lt. Lukas. All of this shows us the political quagmire of WWI eastern Europe and shocks us because really, has anything changed?
7 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Good Soldier Švejk.
Sign In »

Quotes Wendy Liked

Jaroslav Hašek
“The lieutenant’s fooling around again with the telegraph girl at the station,” said the corporal, after he had gone. “He’s been running after her for a fortnight and he’s always frightfully furious when he comes from the telegraph office and he says about her: “She’s a whore. She won’t sleep with me!”
Jaroslav Hašek, The Good Soldier Švejk

Reading Progress

November 8, 2010 – Started Reading
November 8, 2010 – Shelved
December 10, 2010 –
page 341
December 10, 2010 –
page 373
December 10, 2010 –
page 402
December 10, 2010 –
page 419
December 19, 2010 –
page 480
December 20, 2010 –
page 516
December 20, 2010 –
page 564
December 20, 2010 –
page 627
December 21, 2010 –
page 648
December 21, 2010 –
page 668
December 22, 2010 –
page 683
December 22, 2010 –
page 703
December 27, 2010 – Finished Reading
March 26, 2011 – Shelved as: vcfa-reading
April 3, 2011 – Shelved as: 1001-books
January 9, 2012 – Shelved as: literary-war-fiction
January 30, 2012 – Shelved as: doorstops
March 20, 2012 – Shelved as: world-war-i
September 10, 2012 – Shelved as: liked-the-movie
February 24, 2013 – Shelved as: in-translation
September 23, 2015 – Shelved as: all-time-favorites

No comments have been added yet.