Society for Rejuvenating Immortality of Jaroslav Hašek

 

Society for Rejuvenating Immortality of Jaroslav Hašek
(Czech original: Spolek pro oživení nesmrtelnosti Jaroslava Haška)
Report on the Workshop held on Monday, April 24, 2006 in Lipnice on the Sázava River

 


Photo & Text © Jan Kliment

The Czech Crown Inn saw the arrival of members and guests of the Society for Rejuvenating Immortality of Jaroslav Hašek. The participants - including Czech Interior Minister František Bublan (third from the left) - of the first public gathering in history organized for the stated purpose were welcomed by the writer's grandson, Richard Hašek (standing). He said that not only is the Inn a hallowed place where his grandfather Jaroslav Hašek created the largest portion of The Fateful Adventures of The Good Soldier Švejk, but the town of Lipnice itself is gradually being enriched by artifacts reminiscent of some of the novel's characters: e.g. chef Jurajda's Hors D'oeuvre, standing in the town square, but also the so-called Bretschneider's Ear, another piece of work by Radomír Dvořák and his pupils from the stone-masonry apprenticeship school, is - figuratively speaking - an important means of listening to the 58 languages into which Švejk has been translated. After all, the goal of the workshop was a discussion of how to most effectively help to have the author of Švejk be accepted in his homeland as much as he is accepted in other countries with which we have almost nothing in common. "If we want to judge Hašek without prejudice, we have to do it above all through the significance of his work", said the Chairman of the Society for Rejuvenating Immortality of Jaroslav Hašek, a well-known film director Antonín Kachlík.

 


Photo & Text © Jan Kliment

The overarching theme of the proceedings were preparations for “Hašek-kind“ of year 2008 which will mark the important 125th anniversary of the birthday and 85 years since the passing of Jaroslav Hašek. That is why the groundwork for an international symposium dedicated to the historical and cultural environs of Hašek’s life and work is underway in all seriousness at this time already. Inspiration is being provided not only by the changing views of political attributes, but also newly discovered archival materials that make it easier to make sense of the aspects of World War I and the demise of Austria-Hungary, and also the standing of the Czechoslovak Legions and ethnic and expatriates’ organizations. No less important is the programmatic intent to install in Lipnice Josef Malejovský’s statue of Jaroslav Hašek that is a property of the Capital City Prague, which can be transferred free-of-charge to the town of Lipnice. In collaboration with Czech Railways, the preparations of historic train run along Švejk’s wartime anabasis are almost complete. Aboard the train will be even a multi-lingual, comprehensive, mobile exhibit devoted to Hašek, his era and work, which can be installed in Czech Centers of the Foreign Ministry. There are other remarkable initiatives underway to foster rejuvenation of immortality of Jaroslav Hašek. The gathering included also an informal commemoration of this year’s 123rd anniversary of Hašek’s birthday that included laying of wreaths and flowers at his grave in the Old Lipnice Cemetery. (See the photo above.)

 


Photo & Text © Jan Kliment

The workshop ended with a hike to the aforementioned Bretschneider's Ear - National Memorial of Eavesdropping And Wiretapping, anatomically correct sculpture hewn in a granite wall of a former apprentice quarry. It was there where the Interior Minister, František Bublan (right) told the Brixen Press Club, among other things: "I have laid flowers on the grave of Jaroslav Hašek with great respect, because I greatly esteem his literary heritage and human values. I regret when Hašek is being mentioned in context of politics in consequence of which simplified ideological opinions and attitudes are being accentuated. Jaroslav Hašek was a bohemian and wanderer, but he was not occupied with politics. He got to see large part of Europe, even the Balkans, and used the experiences from his journeys in his stories. And above all, he was not seeing the life around himself through the prism of ideology, but through the eyes of a common man and that is why his literary heritage is still alive. The reason Hašek's main work, The Fateful Adventures of The Good Soldier Švejk has been translated into dozens of languages is that it is of the life of ordinary people, speaks of their cares and desires. And I believe that even Czech society will manage to grasp Hašek's heritage in such a way that it will speak to us more intensely and contribute to making the world, and our lives as well, better."