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Švejk [shvāke] Svejk

This blog is dedicated to the title character of The Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier Švejk During the World War and his creator, Jaroslav Hašek.

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Location: United States

Saturday, January 08, 2011


With the growing number of people communicating via hand-held computers, a.k.a. smart phones, the time to make the new translation available in the Kindle format has come. I started converting Book One back when Kindle titles being offered were approaching the number 2,000. Because I only dabble in IT due to necessity and was still working on the rest of the translation I had a very limited amount of time and patience to devote to learning how to produce a Kindle version. The several attempts I made produced entirely unsatisfactory results. Therefore I abandoned the project for the time being.

During my Christmas vacation I took another look and found the support and tools for people like me have improved. I gave it another try. The result? All three volumes of The Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier Svejk During The World War are now selling in Kindle store.

Monday, October 12, 2009


"The basic error of the translator is that he preserves the state in which his own language happens to be instead of allowing his language to be powerfully affected by the foreign tongue. Particularly when translating from a language very remote from his own he must go back to the primal elements of language itself and penetrate to the point where work, image, and tone converge."
- Rudolf Pannwitz in Die Krisis der europaischen Kultur (quoted by W. Benjamin in The Task of the Translator)

"Translation is like a woman, ... If it is beautiful, it is not faithful. If it is faithful, it is most certainly not beautiful."
- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

"The literary market in English-speaking countries, particularly in America, is without a doubt among the least hospitable to foreign works. Given the enormous potential readership, there are, in contrast to the continuous flood of translations into German, Italian, or Czech, comparatively few literary works translated into English — so much so that we find almost no full-time translators of belles lettres in the United States, Canada or, for that matter, England."
- F.M. Galan, Švejk in English,in Jaroslav Hašek 1883-1983, Proceedings of the International Hašek Symposion Bamberg, June 25-28, 1983


Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Good Soldier Švejk NOW IN FACEBOOK

The Good Soldier Švejk wrote on August 5, 2009 at 8:19am
Having the funny mark over the "S" in my name, Švejk, means that people who are looking for "Svejk" or "Schweik", or some other mongrel mutant of my name won't find my page in Facebook. That way, I won't be bothered by journalists, who otherwise would be begging me for an interview, as you know. And, there is always some war - hot war, cold war, trade war, turf war, war of words, or some other kind war going on and I've done my bit for the Lord Emperor a few times already, pulling the chestnuts out of the fire for him. I dutifully report, I have to go now, but, should you run into my old buddy Vodička, tell him I've been sitting at the pub since six o'clock after the war, as originally promised, not since six thirty, as we agreed, but he hasn't shown up yet.

P.S.: If you can't keep this page a secret, make sure you keep it at least away from Colonel Bedřich Kraus von Zillergut. It is really amazing that such an idiot was able to advance relatively quickly. He had very influential people behind him. His sponsor, a commanding general, always kept his fingers crossed because he knew of von Zillergut’s total military incompetence.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


The remaining two volumes of the new translation of The Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier Švejk During the World War, Book Two and Book(s) Three & Four have been released as paperbacks on May 13, 2009.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


As incredible as it seems, two years have gone by . . . They say the older you get the faster the time passes. Gee, one more year and all I'll see will be a streaking blur!

The good news is I have not been idle. The electronic version of the third and last volume of the Švejk books, i.e. Book(s) Three&Four has been available since December 2006.

Friday, December 16, 2005


As it's been a long time since Book One was published and a few people have been nagging me, I decided to make the electronic version of Book Two available just as the finishing touches are being put on it. So, half way between St. Nicholas Day (something of a "first rain" of gifts) and Christmas Eve (the "latter rain" of "baby Jesus", a.k.a. Christmas gifts) the The Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier Švejk During the World War, Book Two, was made availabe for purchase as a PDF file at www.zenny.com.

We will publish both remaining volumes as paperbacks once the remaining Book(s) Three & Four are edited. I pray I can get it all done by Christmas next year! As it is, a year-long, (doubling the estimate, a two-year long) project has been underway for nine years.

I got tremendous satisfaction when my 12 and 1/2 year old daughter read the first two pages of Book Two standing by my side last night and her face lit up after a couple of lines and she burst out laughing several times, enjoying. "He's something," she said, "the way he goes on." She's known Švejk since she was 3 and 1/2 years old, but only as something and somebody ever present and talked about. She even helped me to design the original cover design that we haven't used and probably never will. Last night she met Švejk for the first time through Hašek's text.

If you read Book One, you've been introduced to the times, the place, the title character, and THE METHOD.

In Book Two you will join Josef Švejk on his way to the War to End All Wars and see him apply THE METHOD in a whole new set of circumstances as successfully as he did in peacetime Prague.

We hope you enjoy this little Christmas stocking stuffer and share your thoughts afterwards.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


Proofreading of Book Three has begun.

The following excerpt is from Book Two, Chapter 2 of The Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier Švejk During the World War titled "ŠVEJK’S BUDĚJOVICKÁ ['bood-ye-yo-vits-kah] ANABASIS". It might as well had been titled: HOMELAND SECURITY, OLD-WORLD STYLE:

.... The State police Station Chief wrung his hands with pleasure, rejoicing over the richness of the collected material and the exact results of his interrogation method. He remembered his predecessor, Station Chief Bürger who would not speak with the detainee at all, would not ask him anything and send him immediately to the county court with a short report: "By the judgement of the Sergeant of the Watch he was detained for vagrancy and begging." Was that supposed to be an interrogation?

And the State police Station Chief, looking at the pages of his report, flashed a smile of vindication and pulled out of his desk the secret circular from the State police Headquarters of the Land in Prague marked with the customary ‘Strictly Confidential’ and read through it one more time:

"All State police stations are under strict orders to monitor with immeasurably increased alertness all persons passing through the area. The redeployment of our troops in eastern Galicia has brought about that some Russian military detachments, having crossed the Carpathians, have assumed positions in the interior of our Empire, whereby the front has been shifted deeper toward the west of the Monarchy. This new situation has allowed Russian spies, given the mobility of the front, deeper penetration into the territory of our Monarchy, especially into Silesia and Moravia, from where, according to confidential reports, a large number of Russian intelligence operatives have set out for Bohemia. It has been determined that among them there are many Russian Czechs educated at the Russian military staff colleges who, having perfect mastery of the Czech language, seem to be especially dangerous spies since they can and certainly will conduct treasonous propaganda among the Czech populace. The Land Headquarters therefore orders the apprehension and detention of all suspects and above all increased vigilance in those areas where nearby there are garrisons, military centers and stations with military transport trains passing through. The detained are to be subjected to an immediate search and transported to the next higher authority."

The State police Station Chief Flanderka flashed a smile of contentment again and deposited the secret circular, "Sekretreservaten", among the others in the folder labeled "Secret Directives".

There were many of those that were prepared by the Ministry of Interior State Security in cooperation with the Ministry of Land Defense to which the State police was subordinate.

At the Land Headquarters of the State police in Prague they could not copy and send them out fast enough.

There was:

The directive on controlling the local population’s views.

The guidance on how to monitor, in conversations with the local population, the influence of the news from the battlefield on its views.

A questionnaire regarding how the local population behaves toward the publicly tendered war loans and collections.

A questionnaire on the mood among the members of local self-governing bodies and intellectuals.

A directive on determining without delay to which political parties the local population belongs, and how strong the individual parties are.

A directive on controlling the activities of the leaders of local political parties and determining the level of loyalty of certain political parties, represented among the local population.

A questionnaire on which newspapers, magazines and brochures get delivered within the police station’s beat.

An instruction regarding determining with whom the persons suspected of disloyalty are in contact, and how their disloyalty manifests itself.

An instruction regarding how to recruit paid finks and informers among the local population.

An instruction for the paid informers from among the local population who were registered at the State police station as being in its service.

Every day brought new instructions, guidances, questionnaires, and regulations. Inundated by the mass of innovations from the Austrian Ministry of Interior, the State police Station Chief Flanderka had a huge backlog of items and answered the questionnaires in a stereotypical manner to the effect that on his beat everything was O.K. and loyalty among the local population was of grade Ia.

The Austrian Ministry of Interior devised the following grades of loyalty and steadfastness toward the Monarchy: Ia, Ib, Ic—IIa, IIb, IIc—IIIa, IIIb, IIIc—IVa, IVb, IVc. The last Roman numeral four in connection with the letter 'a' meant high treason and the rope, with the letter 'b' internment, and with 'c' the order to monitor and lock up the perpetrator.

In the State police Station Chief’s desk there were to be found all kinds of forms and records. The Government wanted to know of each citizen how it was thought of.

Quite a number of times the Station Chief Flanderka raised his clasped hands in desperation over the forms which mercilessly kept coming and adding up with each mail delivery. As soon as he saw the familiar envelopes with the stamp "Portofrei — dienstlich, Postage free — official business" his heart always thumped a few times and at night, thinking everything over, he would arrive at the conviction that he wouldn’t live to see the end of the war, and that the State police Land Headquarters would rid him of the last pinch of his sanity and that he would not be able to enjoy the victory of Austrian arms because he would have either one screw too many or one screw too few in his head. And the County Headquarters of the State police would bombard him daily with inquiries why the questionnaire issued under the number 72345 OVER { 721a/f }d, has not been answered, how the instruction issued under the number 88992 OVER { 822gfch } z, has been disposed of, and what are the practical results of the guidance under the number 123456 OVER { 1292b/r } V, etc.

He was the most worried over the instruction on how to gain paid finks and informants among the local populace. In the end, since he figured it impossible that it could be somebody from the area where The Marshes began and where the folk were such stubborn knuckleheads, he came across the idea to take into service the village herdsman whom they called "Joey, jump!" He was a cretin who always jumped in response to this call. One of those poor characters neglected by nature and men, a cripple who grazed the village cattle for a few gold pieces a year and some food. ...

Thursday, August 18, 2005


In 1990, the Czechoslovak President Václav Havel, much admired by the "progressive elements" of the otherwise "rotting Capitalist West", advanced the idea that Czechoslovakia could contribute to international progress by proposing to abolish the obsolete North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). "We," said Havel, "would not necessarily have to get credit" for this marvelous foundation of eternal international peace.

That universal dream was shattered by the intransigence of the American imperialist government and its international lackeys. As they say, the proof is in the pudding: Eleven years later, the warmongering of the Americans ignited a new scourge, global terrorism.

Once again, the Czechs - and I'm sure their Slovak brothers and sisters as well - stand ready to pull their heavy share.

From the land - or more precisely the Czech Lands - that gave the world the very paradigm of survival in hostile circumstances, the Good Soldier Švejk, comes another ingenious idea in the nick of time. I just received it by e-mail today (written in Czech) and could hardly wait to share it with my fellow Americans and all people of good will everywhere who don't have the benefit of understanding Czech. Please, since this could mean the difference between life and death, take your time to read the following appeal and consider joining the growing ranks of this grass-roots, citizen-soldier antiterrorist army:


"Common Struggle Against the Taliban Terrorists

"As is commonly known, for any Taliban man of deep faith it is a deadly sin to take a look at a naked woman unless she is his own wife. If he were to behold her it would be his holy duty to commit suicide.

"We hereby call on all women to walk out into the streets naked this coming Saturday at two o’clock in the afternoon. In doing so you will help to identify undesirable terrorists, the so-called sleepers. We recommend walking in the vicinity for about an hour so as to create a sufficient anti-terrorist effect.

"We are calling on all men to extend support to their wive’s endeavor and lie down on lawn chairs in front of their places of residence, and in doing so observe the naked women - even if they are not their own wives. Of course, the men will engage in this activity only to support their wives in the struggle against terrorism.

"Since it is forbidden for Taliban men to drink alcoholic beverages, a cold beer in every man’s hand should be a clear signal of his healthy antiterrorist stance. The Czech Government holds this initiative of the citizens in great esteem in advance of the event, and thanks all for helping in the struggle against terrorism.

"It is your damn patriotic duty to pass this e-mail on."

Needless to say, I am proud of the anonymous author of this missive. Perhaps one day we can erect a monument to him. Or chisel it in granite in the same quarry - or one nearby - where just this summer a group of Czech patriots created the Czech answer to Mount Rushmore.

Monday, August 08, 2005


June 23, 2005 at 4:00 p.m. history was made once again in Lipnice on the Sázava River, Czech Republic where Jaroslav Hašek wrote Books Two, Three, and Four of his Good Soldier Švejk.

A relief of a human ear almost ten feet tall, chiseled in the face of a granite rock of the local abandoned Quarry #1 was unveiled. The work by a team of sculptors, Messrs. Radomír Dvořák, Martin Roháček, Jan Šíma, and Martin Šimek is titled Bretschneider's Ear - The National Memorial of Eavesdropping And Wiretapping.

Of course, Bretschneider was the "neighborhood patrolman, on loan and working undercover for the State Security Police", introduced to readers of Švejk in Chapter 1 of Book One. He is to neighborhood finks in Central Europe what Quisling is to collaborators in high places - the paradigm of their essence.

There exists an uncanny correlation between the 10,000 years the sculpture is expected to survive the corrosive effect of the elements, and the 10,000 wiretaps executed in the Czech Republic, a NATO member, annually. (see 'Normal' Czech police practice: Wiretaps installed on 100 out of every 100,000 inhabitants)

By comparison, "A total of 1,442 interceptions of wire, oral or electronic communications were authorized by federal and state courts in 2003, an increase of 6 percent over 2002", according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, and "A total of 1,710 intercepts authorized by federal and state courts were completed in 2004, an increase of 19 percent compared to the number terminated in 2003." (see Interceptions at U.S. Courts.gov) That's in the U.S. where the population is approaching 300 million. In contrast, the population of Czech Republic is about 10 million. Shouldn't there be 300,000 wiretaps executed in the U.S. every year? (Just kidding ...)

Is it any wonder the Czech media practically ignored the unveiling event? However, quite a number of members of the Czech Parliament attended, including an MP who chairs a commission with jurisdiction over - you guessed it - wiretapping.

Under the headline "Vysočina bude mít památník odposlechů", i.e. "The Highlands [region] Will Have an Eavesdropping And Wiretapping Memorial" you can see a picture of the work in progress at this local Czech newspaper web site PDF page: http://extranet.kr-vysocina.cz/download/pdf/noviny/noviny5_05.pdf. (You can see the finished product in the "Sculpture" section of SvejkCentral.)

The subhead reads: "A Giant Ear of Stone on the Face of the Granite Rock of an Old Quarry Makes the Connections Between Communist-era Spying, Švejk, and Current Scandals."

This one is for Buddy Don ... and actually all hillbillies: Perusing the web in connection with this post I just found that "Lipnice", the name of the town on the Sázava River, is the same as Poa, a genus of about 500 species of grasses, native to the temperate regions of both hemispheres. Well, there is more. Common to the area is, it seems, "lipnice hajní", i.e. "Poa nemoralis - Wood Meadow-grass", the European cousin of Wood BLUE GRASS! I knew there was a reason ... There are no accidents! :-)

Well, on a personal note, one fifth of the last chapter of Book Two has been proofread. :-) And, I have posted the essay Tropos Kynikos by Peter Steiner among the Analyses at www.SvejkCentral.com, at last ...

Saturday, June 18, 2005


... I wouldn't have to earn a living and this project would had been done by now. That's the bad news. (Also, I am a year older.)

The better news is that Chapter 3 of Book Two has been proofread. There remain two more chapters to be done in Book Two.

A while back I found the wonderfull essay Tropos Kynikos by Peter Steiner which provides an excellent view of svejking ['sh-vey-king'] that ties Svejk to Diogenes. A wonderful philosophical foundation for understanding Hasek's opus magnus. Soon I will be scanning in and posting the expanded version of Tropos Kynikos (see the Analyses section of www.SvejkCentral.com) as I received a permission from the publisher to do that.

The next pertinent essay came out of University of Melbourne: Looking for the Good Soldier, Švejk: Alternative Modalities of Resistance in the Contemporary Workplace, authored by Peter Fleming and Graham Sewell. I'm waiting to get a response from BSA's journal Sociology to my request for a permission to post the complete essay among the Analyses at www.SvejkCentral.com. For the time being, there is just the referrence.

Having to make a living not only keeps me and my family alive and well, but it could bring also a serendipity to this project by allowing me gain the skill of developing dynamic, database-driven web applications. My hope is that one of these days www.SvejkCentral can become such interactive web application to be worthy its title.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004


Thursday, July 22, the last edit was made in the remaining Chapter 5 of Book Two. As of last night all the editing changes have been entered into the computer file. The proof-readers have been notified. It's true! Nothing lasts forever ...

Thursday, July 01, 2004


Just finished editing Chapter 2 of Book Two. Here is a quote from a long passage on the nature of the oppressive Austrian regime:

"The Austrian Ministry of Interior devised the following grades of loyalty and steadfastness toward the Monarchy: Ia, Ib, Ic—IIa, IIb, IIc—IIIa, IIIb, IIIc—IVa, IVb, IVc. The last Roman numeral four in connection with the letter a meant high treason and the rope, with b internment, and with c monitoring and locking up the perpetrator. In the State police Station Chief’s desk there were to be found all kinds of forms and records. The Government wanted to know about each citizen what he thought of it."

Monday, June 28, 2004


Friday June 25 I finished editing the last two pages of Book Four. Transcribing the changes into the Word Perfect file over the weekend I noticed that the first time I saved it I was overwriting a version dated April 2002. Wow! (It's June 2004, mind you ...)

So it's off to reviewing the remaining four chapters of Book Two before the proofreading begins. I'm numb.

Oh, and then there's the realization that IT IS NOT AN UNFINISHED BOOK. The plan might not had been carried out due to Hasek's passing away, but HE FINISHED THE BOOK. As soon as I'm done reviewing Book Two it'll be time to talk to Richard and Radko. It could become quite interesting ...

Friday, June 04, 2004


"Like Diogenes, Švejk lingers at the margins of an unfriendly society against which he is defending his independent existence." Peter Steiner, 'Tropos Kynikos'.

One fact is undeniable: the method has been so popular and successful that political, military, and intellectual leaders at times feel the need to openly decry it and those who are suspected of employing it. The novel was banned from the Czechoslovak army in 1925, the Polish translation was confiscated in 1928, the Bulgarian translation was suppressed in 1935, and the German translation burned on Nazi bonfires in 1933. Gustáv Husák, the General Secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party who replaced the Prague Spring reformer Alexander Dubček in that post after the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion and occupation of Czechoslovakia, and assumed the Presidency as well, exhorted the population in a speech during the 1970's period of the so-called "normalization" to STOP ŠVEJKING!!!

Švejk is indeed an ascending hero for our time. Not because we desire it or prefer it on the basis of some intellectual abstraction, a result of scientific endeavor, or any other sublime exercise of reason. It is a matter of survival in the inhospitable circumstances of the ever more complex and absurd entanglements of the postmodern society we have become. Survival, after all, is not a sufficient, but the first necessary condition for realizing other, higher order goals, lofty or otherwise. And Švejk represents one of the most unique survival strategies ever conceived by man.

Monday, May 31, 2004


Thank God for the Memorial Day weekend having been so productive. There's nothing worse than edited pages piling up, waiting for me to enter the edits into the computer file on the weekend. There had already been two stacks: Chapter 4 of Book Three and Chapter 1 of Book Four. As of now they're in the computer files! I can start the new week with a clean slate again. Chapter 2 of Book Four, here I come ...

Too bad I have to go back to Book Two and look it over. Fortunately, Sunday I managed to re-edit Chapter 1 of Book Two. That leaves four chapters in that Book to deal with.

It is absolutely uncanny how current the book is. Does it mean it was that far ahead of its time or just that things don't really change that much? I can't wait to be finished with the production and get on with the business of publication and popularization.

Friday, May 28, 2004

BIRTHING A BLOG BY DEFAULT - a.k.a. "Gmail made me do it!"

The "Gmail Swap" site posting didn't bring results. I had to act and designed a "gentler, kinder spam" which I sent to 48 prequalified gmail account holders:


... by inviting him to Gmail.

I've been working on a new translation of Svejk for 7 years now. I'd like to get a "gmail" account because I have liked the Google algorithm since its beta version. I need a @gmail.com account to help me keep track of all the Svejk related correspondence. (I had lost all e-mails accumulated over several years a couple of years ago. An absolute disaster!) If you can extend an invitation to me to join Gmail, I'd greatly appreciate it. Thanks.

P.S.: Visit the Svejk Central pilot site at www.SvejkCentral.com (Before you leave the site you can read the Challenges of translating Švejk into English: A report on the experimental project of its “Chicago version” at http://svejkcentral.com/The%20Report.html.)"

Two kind people responded and greatly enhanced my communication arsenal by extending an invitation to acquire a beta gmail account. I need one more and I'll be set.:-) Which brings me to the two nasty responses I got from people whose shame shall remain private as I won't post their names and e-mail addresses. Of course by the time the first "not-so-nice, eh?" person replied I already posted my new gmail on the website. He wrote:
"Comrade, you are shameful opportunist. I see you already have @gmail.com account, yes? If you can buy two domain names, you can buy storage space. I hope you offered foolish person who had given you @gmail.com address six-pack of Pilsener Urquell."

I didn't need the gmail account for storage but for the search algorithm. When I was a kid I would have used the standard "don't judge others by your own situation" in response to the first individual. The pinko lingo, the jealousy ... it's so tiresome.

The second attacker wrote:
"You fucking commie. There is no way I will ever give you an account on this brilliant tool of the bourgeoise!"

Perhaps the two guys are on the same campus: one in a cell of the Young Spartacus League, the other in the John Birch Society. Oh well, ignorance is supposed to be bliss. Maybe I'll try it one day. As soon as the lobotomy pills come out.

(The funny thing is that a couple of years ago a customer urged me to start a "Yahoo Group" so the readers of Svejk could talk to one another. The two fine specimen whom I quote above are among the legion of reasons why not run a bulleting board. I used to visit a few bulletin boards now and then, but I don't anymore. The DEVO have taken over. Soliloquy might not be productive from the societal point of view, but at least it's benign.)

A week later I got this message:
"I am out of invites, but I will tell you how to get an account. Go to www.blogger.com and sign up... When you log in, there should be a box on the right side that talks about Gmail. (Don't tell this to people... its a secret, I think)"

Of course I knew it wouldn't work, but ... desperate people do desperate things. I feel almost obligated to hold onto this space for Svejk's sake. Since the work continues (editing to be finished by the end of the year, proofreading and publishing in 2005), I probably won't be posting anything for a long time, if ever. There just isn't any time. However, the pervasive access to the Internet coupled with my lack of habitual jotting down of ideas might prove to be enough of an incentive to try it. I too might become a soliloquist. But then, there are worse things than that. At least I won't be menacing anybody.

P.S.: The Gmail Team is sure earning its money since I got on. Their response is great. I do try reciprocating by providing a value added service:
"I can see it already: There must be millions of people who can't wait to have their Lotus Notes or some such mail service replaced by Gmail! Remember the origin of Coke Classic? (You're probably too young.) I envision noon-time demonstrations in major U.S. cities (at first) during which "knowledge-based workers" will DEMAND that their employers provide them Gmail. (Hey, it might become a Union contract issue. Why don't you give it to the AFGE for beta testing? Uncle Sam could use Gmail to serve the people better, for sure ...) Coming to think of it, I might take to the streets in the Chicago Loop today!"