Tropos Kynikos: Jaroslav Hašek's The Good Soldier Švejk

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56   The Deserts of Bohemia

society. Furthermore, I have maintained that the kynik challenge to authority and order proceeds from a ludic stance whose unlimited play subverts the principle of iden­tity as a simple self-sameness. But I also have cautioned that the analogy between Diogenes and Svejk is not absolute. Modern society has refined the tools for coercing its citizens to be cooperative, and the latter-day kynik must negotiate his or her unimpeded passage through a hostile world with rhetorical strategies that his Greek ancestors could comfort­ably forgo. I will elaborate on this point in the final part of this chapter.

J. P. Stern's comparison of Hasek's novel with Joseph Heller's Catch-22 poses an interesting question: why did "the Prague Cercle linguisticque, fa­mous for its concern with all sorts of out-of-the-way literary matters, to­tally ignore [Svejk] (as it ignored the writings of Hasek's Prague contem­poraries, Kafka and Rilke)?"42 The reason rests, I believe, in the overall scholarly orientation of the group. The Prague structuralists were con­cerned above all with the grammatical aspects of language (whether phonology, morphology, or syntax), from which perspective Svejk's ver­bal behavior is quite ordinary. Only in recent years did students of lan­guage begin to change the theoretical optics of their field to focus not on grammatical forms per se but rather on how these are exploited in an ac­tual speech situation. The "linguistics of use," as this disciplinary matrix is often called, is a widely diversified movement with many complemen­tary branches, some of whose analytical tools have already been success­fully applied to the literary texts mentioned by Stern.43 I will ground my attempt to draw a line between Diogenes' and Svejk's uses of language in the logical approach to conversation advanced by the British philosopher H. P. Grice.

According to Grice, all verbal exchanges in which participants engage because they recognize "in them, to some extent, a common purpose or set of purposes, or at least a mutually accepted direction," are governed by the "Cooperative Principle" (CP): "Make your conversational contri­bution such as is required, at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange in which you are engaged."44 To render the CP operative

42 J. P. Stern, "War and the Comic Muse," in The Heart of Europe: Essays on Literature and Ideology (Oxford, 1992), p. 119.

43 See, e.g., Clayton Koelb's skillful use of speech act theory in Kafka's Rhetoric: The Passion of Reading (Ithaca, 1989), pp. 40-65.

44 H. P. Grice, "Logic and Conversation," in Syntax and Semantics, ed. P. Cole et al. (New York, 1975), 3:45. Further references will be given in the text. Since its publication, Grice's theory has been scrutinized from many perspectives. For its most comprehensive critique, see Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson, Relevance: Communication and Cognition (Cambridge, Mass., 1986).

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