The Good Soldier Švejk, also spelled Schweik or Schwejk, is the abbreviated title of an unfinished satirical/dark comedy novel by Jaroslav Hašek. And it has inspired the painting at Equity Point Prague’s room 402.
It was originally illustrated by Josef Lada. The original Czech title of the work is Osudy dobrého vojáka Švejka za sv?tové války, literally The Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier Švejk During the World War. He has become the Czech national personification.
A number of literary critics consider The Good Soldier Švejk to be one of the first anti-war novels, preceding Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front. Even Joseph Heller said that if he had not read The Good Soldier Švejk, he would never have written his novel Catch-22.
The idiocy and subversion of Švejk has entered the Czech language in the form of words such as švejkovina (“švejking”), švejkovat (“to švejk”), švejkárna (military absurdity), etc.
The name has also entered English, in the form of Schweik, “A person likened to the character of Schweik, pictured as an unlucky and simple-minded but resourceful little man oppressed by higher authorities,” and the derivative forms to Schweik, Schweikism, and Schweikist.
The story of Švejk begins in Prague with the news of the assassination in Sarajevo that precipitates World War I.
Švejk displays such enthusiasm about faithfully serving the Austrian Emperor in battle that no one can decide whether he is merely an imbecile or is craftily undermining the war effort.
The book also includes anecdotes told by Švejk (usually either to deflect the attentions of an authority figure, or to insult them in a concealed manner) which are not directly related to the plot.
So, now.. do you know a “Schweik person” ?