Friday, April 30, 2010

The Good Soldier

The pipe smoking fellow above is (at least I think it is a picture of him) Jaroslav Hasek born this day 1883 in Prague, Austria-Hungary. He was the son of a high school math teacher, and the family's poverty forced them to move several times during his early childhood, these were not the type of moves you want to do, but the types of move you do by moonlight when the landlord is sleeping. When he was 13, his father drank himself to death, and by the age of 15 young Jaroslav was forced to drop out of school, and get a real job as a druggist. He did manage to graduate from a business school, and had several other jobs (such as dog salesman) before deciding to try to live the high life as a writer. This high life included becoming an anarchist, and getting his ass arrested on a regular basis, one arrest was for assaulting a police officer for which he spent a month in jail. He fell in love with a girl in 1907, but her parents were understandably not too thrilled with their daughter's choice in men, and opposed the match. This led him to trying to straighten up and fly right, or at least right enough to get the girl, and they were married in 1910. It did not prove to be a happy marriage, and ended (badly) in 1913, after Hasek was caught trying to fake his own death. However these years, were productive he wrote and wrote short stories, and even managed his to finish most of his masterpiece "The Good Soldier Svejk." It is that work (which I confess I have yet to read, but it is on the "list") that gets him onto the hero podium. It is, by all accounts, a brilliant look at World War I, from a jokers perspective, and is one of the most read books in the Czech language to this day. There is a lot of Hasek in his character, they were both well known practical jokers, and there are statutes dedicated to Hasek outside of the pubs in which he wrote a lot of his stories. Imagine that, writing a fucking novel in the beery, smoky, atmosphere of a tavern. That takes dedication at least, and probably quite a bit of concentration. So, for writing that wonderful book, and managing to keep it free from beer stains, Jaroslav Hasek (April 20th 1883-January 3rd, 1923, at the age of 39 from TB), you are my (245th) hero of the day.

2 comments:

Jamie Vercauteren said...

I just started reading The Good Soldier Svejk today. Hooked on the introduction alone and very much looking forward to this

Anonymous said...

'The Good Soldier Svejk' is Hasek's masterpiece, the best book I have ever read.