Jaroslav Hašek was a humorist and satirist of a rare order long before he wrote his celebrated novel The Good Soldier Švejk (1921–3). This selection of 32 pre-1914 stories of Prague life – most of them translated into English for the first time – revels in the twisted logic of politics and bureaucracy in the Czech capital which was also an Austrian provincial city.
The sad fate of an idealistic mission to protect the morals of country girls arriving in Prague for the first time; an Austrian returning from abroad, where his left kidney has been replaced by a pig’s, in serious trouble with Customs because the importation of pigs has become illegal; a Prague barber, in full flow against the Turks, the Serbs, the Hungarians, the Eyeties, who is over-enthusiastic with his razor… With unabashed relish, Hašek documents the Disorder Principle in life.
‘These stories are very readable and offer a good cosmic insight into many aspects of Austrian (and Bohemian, Hungarian and Bosnian) bureaucracy, alcoholism and general human folly.’ – David Short, Slovo
‘In these animated translations Hašek emerges as a prankster who carries his “what if” musings to absurdist heights.’ – Fran Handman, New York Times
‘Many of these stories have a fine satirical edge.’ – Colin Johnson, Yorkshire Post