Posted by Jan den Breejen (126.96.36.199) on July 12, 2003 at 08:49:05:
Hasek’s Good Soldier Svejk – the bumbler archetype
The bumbling Chec seems to be the archetypical ‘ playing dumb’ passive-aggressive/Leisurely Style person resisting the power of authorities to make him do things that he doesn’t want to do by stealthy sabotage rather than active resistance.
Case text citation:
The Good Soldier Svejk is one of the classics of literature that sprang from the flesh-fertilized grounds of World War 1. But Svejk is a war book with a twist. It is profoundly funny -- hiliarious in fact, an antiwar novel that wanders throughout the realm of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire without getting anywhere near the Russian front for a long time. Unlike Remarque's brooding "All Quiet on the Western Front", or Lawrence's memoir "Seven Pillars of Wisdom", Hasek's novel views the war as a great absurdist event, a colossal stupidity witnessed by a small stupid person, Svjek (who prior to the war, made his living by selling dogs with forged pedigrees). But Svejk isn't stupid. He PLAYS dumb all right, because he knows that's how one survives. Hasek lays bare the ridiculousness of the old Habsburg monarchy: the ethnic rivalries, the endless bureaucracies, religions of convenience, the military heirarchy, as seen through the eyes of the not-as-simple-as-he-seems Czech reservist, Svjek. Through a series of mishaps, blunders, deliberate scams and other reasons, Sjvek always seems to somehow just avoid going to the front, until the very end of the book, which has kind of a surprise ending all its own. It is a wordy book (largely because Hasek wrote the book as a serial published in an Czech newspaper -- he was paid by the word), but an immensely fun one nevertheless. Considering all the serious literature that came out of the First World War, Sjvek is a hilarious treat with a serious subtext that hasn't lost its power to entertain and provoke thought. It's not to be missed
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