Tropos Kynikos: Jaroslav Hašek's The Good Soldier Švejk

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68   The Deserts of Bohemia

tremendous odds against him, he passes through all the dangers unharmed. Svejk's mythical invincibil­ity makes him a modern "epic hero" with whom his compatriots identify and of whose exploits they talk because they see in him "a modern Saint George, the hero of a saga of a single mind's triumph over the hydra of Authority, Regime, and System—of the mind disguised as feebleminded­ness in the war with Absurdity in the guise of Wisdom and Dignity—the sense of Nonsense against the nonsense of Sense."54 And though, to an outsider, next to the spectacular stunts of ancient heroes Svejk's feat—his survival achieved through his own doing, without any embarrassing compromises with those in power—might seem rather trifling, the histor­ical experience of a small nation sandwiched between Germany and Russia suggests to a Czech reader that it also might be an absolute miracle.

54 Jiří Voskovec, Klobouk ve křoví: Výbor z versů V+W (Prague, 1965), p. 29.

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