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sian medal for gallantry. In his writing for the Brigade (and then the ‘legion’* which passed under French command), he generally shared the Czech nationalist and pan-Slav bigotry of most of the ‘legionary’ writers and journalists. He turned down, however, the ideals of the new ‘legion’. In the Spring of 1918, Hašek followed his political convictions of the time by leaving Ukraine for Moscow, where he joined the left wing of the Czech Social Democrats, that is, the Czech section of the Bolsheviks. He had, then, betrayed his country twice, once by going over to the Russians and once by abandoning the ‘legion’. One must not, however, underestimate his bravery in joining Red military activities, willingly accepting the Party’s making him assistant to the officer in command in Bugulma: if during his time with the Reds he had encountered Czechoslovak legionaries, he would have been executed, and probably tortured beforehand – however popular he had been as a man and a writer when he was in Kiev. When Hašek is mentioned at all in any of the right-wing legionary novels that I have read, it is with affection – which is not the case with his Švejk (though Švejk does appear in left-wing anti-war novels). It is certainly misleading of the best-informed of today’s students of Hašek, Radko Pytlík, to entitle his afterword to the Czech edition of this book ‘Švejk in Tatar Bugulma’. Gašek (Gashek)** has very few of Švejk’s characteristics and Gašek is not Hašek either, but an ironic, sometimes more or less grotesque, *) I use inverted commas because these soldiers regarded themselves as the Czechoslovak Army, and were initially offended on returning from Siberia to the new Czechoslovak state to learn that they were labelled ‘legionaries’, which was especially shocking for a ‘hero of Zborów’, for even before the soldiers returned home, this battle had become a corner-stone of the new country’s foundation myth. **) Russians have ‘G’ for Czech, or indeed most English, names beginning with H. ( 98 )

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version of the author – though most of the events described in the stories presented did take place, even the episode concerning barracks-cleaning nuns, but Hašek’s intention is satire, not verisimilitude. Satire often entails turning things upside down, just as it entails sarcasm, elsewhere considered the lowest form of wit. Probably the account of the vicissitudes of refugees’/repatriates’ journey from the northern Baltic to Germany comes closest to verisimilitude. Satirists also frequently enjoy types, and the know-all who thrusts his banal knowledge on everyone within earshot is one of the most vivid types in the present collection, for he reminds one of people the reader has encountered all over the world. Hašek returned to Prague in 1920. The Bugulma stories were freely available during the Communist era in Czechoslovakia, though given the distorted book supply system, it was often almost impossible to find individual volumes from the Works (1955–74). Still, the exile publishing house in Toronto, 68 Publishers, published the Bugulma stories in 1976, a shorter collection than the present, and many copies were smuggled into Czechoslovakia. In 1981, Cecil Parrott’s translations of eight of the stories contained in the present volume were published in his The Red Commissar. The editors of the present version hope that some readers will have the time to compare the two translations. In the Bugulma stories Hašek has returned to many of the comic techniques of his pre-war short stories, though the slapstick of which he had been a master is greatly diminished and in the present stories the author makes proportionately greater use of what is normally called antithetical hyperbole (satire achieved by means of an exaggeration of horror or evil by portraying the opposite of the actual state of affairs, closer to collusive irony than to sarcasm) than in his pre-war stories. For nearly every episode in these stories Hašek as narrator looks like the opposite of the war-time, ( 99 )

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more or less stock central European antisemite nationalist, national and, subsequently Communist propagandist. I am not saying there is absolutely nothing left of the old (or, indeed, the post-war) comic writer in the war-time writing, but on the whole, he is a coarser and simultaneously more conventional writer, even in The Good Soldier Švejk in Captivity. But then, even The Fortunes of the Good Soldier Švejk in the Great War is coarser than the pre-war short stories, and, indeed, than the Bugulma stories. These stories, with some exceptions, manifest Hašek’s old fascination with, indeed often affection for, outsider groups, here Tatars, Buryats (it is said that Hašek founded Buryat journalism), Circassians and other non-Russians. Only the Chinese are a major exception, for some of his writing on them is essentially racist. That racism may be contrasted with a story from the pre-war collection, A Tourist Guide (1913), where, after he has been converted to Christianity, a clever Chinese has the priest who had converted him executed so that his desire for eternal life in Heaven can be fulfilled as soon as possible. Hašek also had a weak spot for Gypsies, but that is not evident in the Bugulma stories. In his pre-war writing, on the whole, he had an equally weak spot for Jews; one thinks of his story about the failure to realise a Jewish arranged marriage, which works just as well as another, also set in Galicia, that presents a more or less slapstick satire on Hasidic miraculous rabbis or messiahs, again narrated with great warmth. In this last story a messiah is never seen chewing onions while walking, which is ambivalent, for it is difficult to tell whether Hašek is using a central European antisemitic stereotype – that Jews always stink of onions or garlic or both, or in fact making fun of that stereotype. That ambivalence becomes particularly clear if we turn to the Chinese story in the present collection (‘Chzhen-si, the Supreme Truth’), for here, when a Chinese and a Korean leave the narrator’s room, leaving behind them the smell ( 100 )

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Behind the Lines (Ukázka, strana 99)  
Behind the Lines (Ukázka, strana 99)