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Jaroslav Hasek

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Jaroslav Hašek (April 30, 1883 - January 3, 1923) was a Czech humorist and satirist who became well-known mainly for his hilarious, world-famous novel The Good Soldier Svejk, a unfinished collection of farsical incidents about a soldier in World War I which has been translated into sixty languages. He also wrote some 1,500 other stories. He was a journalist, bohemian, and practical joker. His short life had many odd parallels with another Prague contemporary, the Jewish writer Franz Kafka (1883–1924).

Life and work

Hašek was born in Prague, Austria-Hungary (now in the Czech Republic), the son of middle-school math teacher Josef Hašek and his wife Kateřina. Poverty forced the family, with three children -- another son Bohuslav, three years Jaroslav's younger, and an orphan cousin Maria -- to move often, more than ten times during his infancy. He never knew a real home, and this rootlessness clearly influenced his life of wanderlust. When he was thirteen, Hašek's father died, and his mother was unable to raise him firmly. The teenage boy dropped out of high school at the age of 15 to become a druggist, but eventually graduated from business school. He worked briefly as a bank officer and also as a dog salesman, but preferred the liberated profession of a writer and journalist.

Hašek made fun of everyone and everything, including himself. He cared nothing for style or schools of literature -- he considered his work a job, not art -- and wrote spontaneously. He made jokes not only on paper, but also in real life, angering many who considered him lazy, irresponsible, a vagabond, a drunkard, etc.

In 1910 he married Jarmila Mayerová, herself an author, but when he was captured by the Russians during World War I, he married again in Russia. After the Russian Revolution he joined the Red Army and became a political commissar, but returned again to Prague after the war.

Before the war, in 1911, he wrote his first stories about Švejk, but it was only after the war in his glorious novel that Švejk was to become a sancta simplicitas, a cheerful idiot who joked about the war as if it were a tavern brawl. By this time Hašek had become gravely ill and dangerously overweight. He no longer wrote, but dictated the chapters of Švejk from his bedroom in the town of Lipnice, where he unexpectly died in 1923, not yet 40 years old.

Since his death, many of Hašek's short stories have been collected and published in book form.

Bibliography

  • The Good Soldier Svejk and His Fortunes in the World War, translated by Cecil Parrott, with original illustrations by Josef Lada
  • The Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier Svejk During the World War, Book One, translated by Zenny K. Sadlon
  • The Red Commissar: Including further adventures of the good soldier Svejk and other stories
  • Bachura Scandal and Other Stories and Sketches, translated by Alan Menhenett

External links

bg:Ярослав Хашек cs:Jaroslav Hašek da:Jaroslav Haek de:Jaroslav Hašek eo:Jaroslav HASEK fr:Jaroslav Hašek pl:Jaroslav Haek ru:Гашек, Ярослав tt:Jaroslav Hašek he:ירוסלב האשק

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