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The Good Soldier Svejk and His Fortunes in the World War (Twentieth Century Classics) Mass Market Paperback – 14 May 1990


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Mass Market Paperback, 14 May 1990
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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (14 May 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140182748
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140182743
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 363,771 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

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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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By MR GERRET LORENZEN on 11 Oct 2002
Format: Hardcover
If I were born again, I would happily be Svejk.
On the face of it, this simpleton dog seller from Prague has nothing going for him. Even the dogs he sells are mongrels, made up to look like pedigrees (with fake certification, naturally).
As the story progresses, you find he is not only intelligent, but uses dumb ignorance to get his way. From almost starting a riot in Wenceslas Square, to being lost by his officer in a card game, to being captured by his own troops, the scrapes Hasek creates for his hero will make you laugh out loud.
Don't be scared if you think the setting is outdated, the footnotes are excellent in explaining the context. I guarantee you will recognise many of the characters in people you have met.
One word of warning though. Hasek died while writing this masterpiece. Literally in mid paragraph. Its frustrating, but makes you wonder, what if....
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 July 2000
Format: Hardcover
Svejk, a man who sells dogs for a living in Prague after being discharged from the army for stupidity is an instantly likeable character. His escapades throughout the war however depict a man able to very cleverly use his reputation for idiocy to avoid the frontline. Along the way he meets numerous characters which the author uses well to display his disdain for religion, royalty, the army, politicians and authority in general. This is a tale of the ordinary man and his ordinary acquaintances who happen to be unwilling participants in an horrific event in world history. The book is very long indeed and there is a section in the middle where nothing seems to happen and can be hard work. The book however pulls itself together as Svejk and his companions are herded towards the frontline and where Svejk's crowning glory is to be captured by his own army. Overall Svejk is the star and while his comical and often ludicrous stories frequently amount to nothing, they do give a feel for the lives of the average Czech at the time.
This book is well worth a go, you may give up on it as some people I know have but if your a fan of stories depicting the small man doing his best to resist against the big machine then you'll enjoy Svejk.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 7 Oct 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
THis is a piece of WW1 fiction with a differnce. It like the rest is portarying the nastiness of war. Yet Hasek does this in a fashion where he does not expose the horrors that undoubtedly occured,he merely shows the absurdity of war, the ridiculous nature of bureaucracy and for me reminicses about the sheer irony of life.
I think that in one sense this book can be compared to another great czech writer, Kafka in that it shows the individual up against this faceless system which seems to mercilessly persectute a person for being themselves. This theme is evident in both the writers works. However whist Kafka seems to dwell in a pit of self absorbtion and shivering paranoia Hasek laughs at it, shameless mocking the entire concept. The value of the book rests however on the pure enjoyment one gains from reading it, the smirking laughter it induces and the broad grins are in reality the sole reason to read this brilliant book.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By "leventis3" on 21 Oct 2003
Format: Paperback
Svejk is not the sort of novel that would appeal to James Joyce, Virginia Woolf or Henry James fans. In many ways it completely disregards ellusive modernity, and deals with things that would have interested Rabelais and Aristophanes: food, drink and sex. Simultaneously its characters find themselves in the butchery of the First World War, and do all they can to get themselves out of it. Hasek is no Remark, and his protagonists are so adept at getting out of the front, that by the (incomplete) end of the book there has still been no actual fighting in it.
Just like Rabelais, Hasek successfully subverts any form of authority. Alhtough Hasek became a communist towards the end of his life, he remained at heart an out-and-out anarchist. Much of his venom is directed at the corrupt and decaying state of Austria-Hungary, but the most choice specimens of it are those reserved for the Church and for religion of all kinds.
Svejk himself is very like Hamlet in one important way: just as it is almost impossible to give a definite answer to whether Hamlet is mad or not, so it is impossible to give a definite answer to the main question surrounding Svejk: is he a patent imbecile or not? In another sense he is much bigger than Hamlet, since he takes over directly the structure of the work, and twists, chops and defines it accordingly. He always tells grotesque stories, supposedly to illustrate a moral of some kind, but these always seem to drift and swerve wildly away, and end up proving nothing at all or something totally different to his avowed aim. They impede the flow of the narrative so much, that by the end there is almost no narrative, just a morrass of subversions, each more hilarious than the one that preceded it.
It definitely is a prime contender for book of the past century.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By MR GERRET LORENZEN on 21 Mar 2003
Format: Paperback
For years I thought Catch 22 was the ultimate anti war novel. I even saw a lecture by Joseph Heller before he died. While I won't take away the brilliance of Hellers book, it pales into significance to Haseks.
Firstly, it takes a stance not usually taken by other writers. Wars are fought by soldiers, not nations. Svejk was one of those soldiers, and he was a) unwilling and b) not very good at it.
To that end, he spends his entire time winding up his superior officer ( Leuitentant Lukas, who, believe it or not, won Svejk in a game of cards), obstinately defying pompous officers ( the chapter where he drinks a bottle of schanps in front of Leutentant Dub is a classic), and generally being a pain in the backside.
All the time though, you get a feeling that this is an ordinary man, caught up in an insane set of events. That he has to fight is inevitable, but deep down, he remains the dog seller that inhabits U Celska, a seedy pub in Prague.
What he goes through is exactly the same as soldiers in WW1, WW2 or the latest conflict in Iraq.
The only down side of this book is that Hasek died in mid paragraph. It kind of throws you, but if you use a little imagination, you will make up your own conclusion to this story.
If you don't buy it on Amazon, buy it elsewhere. This book will truly enhance your life
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