Remembering Jaroslav Hašek, Who Died 100 Years Ago

Jaroslav Hašek, the bohemian who became famous as the author of one of the most famous and later the most translated Czech books – The Good Soldier Švejk – died 100 years ago.

The Prague-born Jaroslav Hašek, who wrote hundreds of short stories and feuilletons, is rightly considered one of the most significant Czech humorists. He led a very turbulent life and travelled half of Europe.

During his life, he had many adventures and wrote down many incredible stories, which he drew on for his writing.

His crowning achievement is the 1921 novel The Good Soldier Švejk. This brilliant work, which booksellers refused to sell officially because they considered it “vulgar, unintelligent and rude”, was eventually translated into almost 60 languages.

Hašek did not have time to finish the second part of the book nor to celebrate his 40th birthday. He died on 3 January 1923 in Lipnice nad Sázavou in the Vysočina Region.

The character of Švejk was created before the First World War. The first play, written by J. Hašek, was called “Fortress”, and it featured some hard-working but foolish servant of Emperor Charles IV, Josef Švejk, trying to take over the fortress of Monfalcone.

He obeyed every command, even the stupidest. In 1912, J. Hašek published a military short story The Good Soldier Švejk and Other Strange Stories.

The most significant work of the writer about Švejk, created before the novel, is a series of short stories The Commander of the City of Bugulma, which has been published in the magazine “Tribuna” since January, 1921, to March, 1921.

In 1921, at the “U Pánků” pub in Žižkov, J. Hašek stated: “I will release Švejk myself and will not give it to anyone.”

In March, 1921, the first volume of the pamphlet, The Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier Švejk in a World War, was published at Neubert’s printing house in Prague.


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