Anthony Buckley's Reviews > The Good Soldier Švejk

The Good Soldier Švejk by Jaroslav Hašek
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it was amazing
bookshelves: politics, history, literature
Recommended 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, and who, in consequence, daily encounters a sequence of bumbling upper class oafs, his officers. These latter individuals are running a totally disastrous war, the Great War for Civilization, which is destroying their own country of Austria Hungary.

Svejk, however, is not moderately stupid. He is very very stupid. Indeed, he is so very stupid that he somehow manages to keep himself out of trouble and out of danger. Gradually, we wonder whether Svejk might actually be quite a clever man, who knows how to handle himself in the face of arbitrary power, bureaucracy and bone-headed idiocy. Finally, because the war's stupidity is actually quite a serious matter, we make another discovery. By an imperceptible transmogrification, Svejk ceases even to appear to the reader as a fool. Instead, we discover him to be a quiet, intelligent hero, the model, indeed for the Czechoslovak hero who emerged from the old Empire to found a new society.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
January 1, 1977 – Finished Reading
March 25, 2009 – Shelved
March 25, 2009 – Shelved as: politics
March 25, 2009 – Shelved as: history
March 25, 2009 – Shelved as: literature

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Brad (new) - added it

Brad This book has been sitting on my to-read shelf for a decade now, and I glance at it every time I am deciding on a new book but never pick it up. One of my favourite profs, a lady who taught me about WWI, recommended this to me, knowing my love for literature. Your review reminds me why I need to read it, so maybe next time I am scanning my bedside to-read shelf I won't go past Svejk. Maybe I'll pick it up and get reading (seeing as I am a descendant of Czechoslovak's it's probably a necessity too). I'm glad I found your review, Andrew. Thanks for another excellent one.

Anthony Buckley A strange book, but ok. Enjoy.

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