"The good news is that, to be sure, Hašek does exist in English; the less good news is that, like most translated works, The Good Soldier Švejk, the single best known piece of modern Czech literature, lurks on the far periphery of the literary consciousness of the English-reading public. One should not be surprised. 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. As a result, translation is frequently left in the hand of amateurs, and the process of putting works of foreign literature into English is haphazard. On top of it, the literary quality of translation is often lamentably poor. And when certain writers find their way into English, more likely than not their works are apt to be submerged in the vast sea of contemporary English and American literary production, it is one thing to be translated; it is quite another, and rather more complicated, thing actually to reach a wide readership. Think, for example, of Vladimir Nabokov who had already been writing for some twenty-five years in English when the succeès de scandale of Lolita gained him the recognition that was his due. Only then did he have a sound hope of seeing his novels and short stories and poems (and chess problems) Englished — especially since he did most of the translating himself. Much the same is true of another Slavic writer, Czesław Miłosz, who has spent a good part of his life living and teaching in America and yet has made hardly a dent in the minds of most of his fellow-readers until he received the Nobel Prize. How then can one expect a Czech writer who died sixty years ago and never set a foot in the New World to have become a household word?
And yet Jaroslav Hasek along with Karel Čapek and, among contemporary writers, Milan Kundera belongs to the handful of Czech writers who are not entirely unknown to the better informed English readers. …"
F.M. Galan, Švejk in English
in Jaroslav Hašek 1883-1983
Proceedings of the International Hašek Symposion Bamberg, June 25-28, 1983