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The Good Soldier Švejk

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Franz Ferdinand and Sophie leave the Sarajevo Town Hall, five minutes before the assassination, 28 June 1914.

The Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier Švejk is a novel with an unusually rich array of characters. In addition to the many who directly form part of the plot, a large number of fictive and real people (and animals) are mentioned; either through Švejk's anecdotes, the narrative or indirectly through words and expressions.

This web page contains short write-ups on the persons the novel refers to; from Napoléon in the introduction to captain Ságner in the last few lines of the unfinished Book Four. The list is sorted in to the order of which the names first appear. The chapter headlines are from Zenny K. Sadlon's recent translation and will in most cases differ from Cecil Parrott's version from 1973. In January 2014 there were still around twenty entries to be added.

  • The quotes in Czech are copied from the on-line version of the novel provided by Jaroslav Šerák and contain links to the relevant chapter
  • The tool-bar has links for direct access to Wikipedia, Google search and Švejk on-line

The names are colored according to their role in the novel, illustrated by the following examples: Doctor Grünstein who is directly involved in the plot, Heinrich Heine as a historical person, and Ferdinand Kokoška as an invented person. Note that a number of seemingly fictive characters are modelled after very real living persons. See for instance Lukáš and Wenzl.

>> The Good Soldier Švejk index of people mentioned in the novel (585) Show all
>> I. In the rear
>> II. At the front
>> III. The famous thrashing
Index Back Forward I. In the rear Hovudpersonen

4. They threw Švejk out of the madhouse

The Virgin Marynn flag
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maria.jpg

Icon of Mary in Vladimir, Russia

The Virgin Mary was someone the inmates of the lunatic asylum could pretend to be. Otherwise she is already mentioned through the common Czech expression Ježíšmarjá. This is exclaimed by Švejk already in the first dialogue of the novel, when he hears the news about the assassination of Sarajevo. Her name is invoked in this and similar variations throughout the novel.

Background

The Virgin Mary was the mother of Christ and the principal saint of the Catholic Church. In the New Testament she is featured in the gospels and in the deeds of the Apostles. At the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431, the Council Fathers bestowed here the title Theotokos, 'Mother of God'. The Quran portrays here as selected by God above all women in the world; she is mentioned in seven chapters in the Quran, one of them with her name as the title. She features in numerous works of art, where she is usually just called 'Madonna' - 'Our Lady'.

Quote from the novel
[1.4] Člověk se tam může vydávat za pánaboha nebo za panenku Marii, nebo za papeže, nebo za anglickýho krále, nebo za císaře pána, nebo za sv. Václava, ačkoliv ten poslední byl pořád svázanej a nahej a ležel v isolaci.

Also written:Panenka Marie Hašek Panna Maria cz Jungfrau Maria de

The Popenn flag
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paven.jpg

Pius X, Wiener Bilder, 23.8.1914

The Pope was one of the persons the inmates of the lunatic asylum could pretend to be.

Background

The Pope is bishop of Rome and head of the Roman Catholic Church, based in the Vatican. Pope from 1904 until 20 August 1914 was Pius X, who was succeeded by Benedict XV. Hence Pius still occupied the seat at the time Švejk was in the asylum (July 1914).

Links

Quote from the novel
[1.4] Člověk se tam může vydávat za pánaboha nebo za panenku Marii, nebo za papeže, nebo za anglickýho krále, nebo za císaře pána, nebo za sv. Václava, ačkoliv ten poslední byl pořád svázanej a nahej a ležel v isolaci.

Also written:Papež cz Der Pabst de

King of Englandnn flag
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george5.jpg

George V before the war

King of England was as one of the persons the patients at the lunatic asylum could pretend to be, and that without repercussions.

Background

King of England seems to refer more to the king as a title and is not necessarily a reference to George V who was king of Great Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth from 1910 to 1936. The title king of England hadn't formally existed since 1707, but then as now it was common to interchange the terms England, Great Britain and United Kingdom.

King George belonged to the House of Saxe-Coburg, a noble family originating from Germany. He was cousin of both emperor Wilhelm II and tsar Nicholas II. He bore considerable physical resemblance to the Russian tsar. In 1917 the Royal House was renamed House of Windsor, one of several examples of politically motivated name changes during the world war.

Links

Quote from the novel
[1.4] Člověk se tam může vydávat za pánaboha nebo za panenku Marii, nebo za papeže, nebo za anglickýho krále, nebo za císaře pána, nebo za sv. Václava, ačkoliv ten poslední byl pořád svázanej a nahej a ležel v isolaci.

Also written:Anglický král cz Kongen av England nn

Saint Wenceslausnn flag
*907 Praha - †28.9.35 Stará Boleslav
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Saint Wenceslaus is mentioned during Švejk's staty at Blazinec (the madhouse) when the author lists various persons or objects the inmates pretended to be.

He reappears in the anecdote about the chamberpot in Poděbrady which was claimed to be the helmet of Saint Wenceslaus.

Background

Saint Wenceslaus was prince (kníže) of Bohemia from 921 until his death. He was murdered by his brother Bohuslav, was canonised after his death and was eventually to become the Czech patron saint. Wenceslaus is still the patron saint of the Czech people and the Czech Republic. His feast day is 28 September and is also a Czech national holiday.

Václavské náměstí is named after him and in 1912 a big equestrian statue of him was unveiled at the southern end of the street, in front of Museum. Václav is still today one of the most common Czech male names.

Quote from the novel
[1.4] A von mu ten jeho kamarád napsal takovej fejton vo takovým jednom sběrateli, jak našel v písku na břehu Labe starej nočník plechovej a myslel, že to přilbice svatýho Václava, a udělal s tím takovej rozruch, že se tam na to přijel podívat biskup Brynych z Hradce s procesím a s korouhvema.
[3.3.0] A von mu ten jeho kamarád napsal takovej fejton vo takovým jednom sběrateli, jak našel v písku na břehu Labe starej nočník plechovej a myslel, že to přilbice svatýho Václava, a udělal s tím takovej rozruch, že se tam na to přijel podívat biskup Brynych z Hradce s procesím a s korouhvema.

Also written:Svatý Václav cz Heiliger Wenzel de

The Archbishopnn flag
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arcibiskup.jpg

Lev Skrbenský z Hříště, Zlatá Praha, 1899

The Archbishop is referred to when one of the patients at Blázinec claims that he is archbishop. In [I.9] he is mentioned again because he received Katz and seemingly supported the latter in his attempt to join the priest's seminary. See Seminář.

Background

The Archbishop may arguably refer to the Roman-catholic archbishop of Prague although the text doesn't indicate any particular archbishop, and is rather used as a generic term. In [I.9] there is however no doubt that the author writes about the archbishop of Prague.

In office at the time was Lev Skrbenský z Hříště (1863-1938) who held the seat from 1899 to 1916. He was a Czech cleric and nobleman who before becoming archbishop had served for 10 years as field chaplain in K.u.k. Heer.

Links

Quote from the novel
[1.4] Byl tam taky jeden, kterej křičel, že je arcibiskupem, ale ten nic jiného nedělal, než jen žral a ještě něco dělal, s odpuštěním, víte, jak se to může rýmovat, ale tam se žádnej za to nestydí. Jeden se tam dokonce vydával za svatýho Cyrila a Metoděje, aby dostával dvě porce.

Also written:Arcibiskup cz Der Erzbischof de Erkebiskopen nn

Saint Cyrilnn flag
*827 Solun (Thessaloniki) - †869 Roma
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kyrillos.jpg

Cyril in Olomouc

Saint Cyril was mentioned when Švejk told about his stay in the lunatic asylum. One of the inmates claimed to be Saints Cyril and Methodius in order to get two portions.

Background

Saint Cyril was a Greek missionary, later to become a saint, who together with his brother Methodius startet the christianisation of the Slavic peoples. The Cyrillic alphabet is named after him. During his lifetime he was known as Constantin.

Quote from the novel
[1.4] Jeden se tam dokonce vydával za svatýho Cyrila a Metoděje, aby dostával dvě porce.

Also written:Svatý Cyril cz Sankt Kyrill de

Saint Methodiusnn flag
*815 Solun (Thessaloniki) - †6.4.885 Mähren
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methodios.jpg

Methodius in Olomouc

Saint Methodius was mentioned when Švejk told about his stay in the lunatic asylum. One of the inmates claimed to be Saints Cyril and Methodius in order to get two portions.

Background

Saint Methodius was a Greek missionary, later to become a saint, who together with his younger brother Cyril startet the christianisation of the Slavic peoples. During his lifetime he was known as Michael. The two brothers are often referred to as the "Apostles to the Slavs". They translated the Bible to what is now called Old Church Slavonic.

Quote from the novel
[1.4] Jeden se tam dokonce vydával za svatýho Cyrila a Metoděje, aby dostával dvě porce.

Also written:Svatý Metoděj cz Sankt Method de

Otto, Jannn flag
*8.11.1841 Přibyslav - †29.5.1916 Praha
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Otto was indirectly mentioned in connection with the mental patient who claimed to be the 16th part of Otto's Encyclopaedia.

Background

Otto was a Czech publisher best known for publishing Ottův slovník naučný. He also published literature, text books and magazines. Amongst the latter were Zlatá Praha and Světozor which Jaroslav Hašek contributed to. The head office of the publishing house J. Otto was located at Karlovo náměstí No. 34 and they also had a branch office in Vienna.

Otto's son studied at Českoslovánská obchodní akademie at the same time as Jaroslav Hašek (1899-1902). Otto also ran a foundation to support poor students at the academy.

Links

SourceRadko Pytlík, Marek Šimoňák

Quote from the novel
[1.4] Nejzuřivější byl jeden pán, kerej se vydával za 16. díl Ottova slovníku naučného a každého prosil, aby ho otevřel a našel heslo ,Kartonážní šička’, jinak že je ztracenej.
General Windischgrätznn flag
*11.5.1787 Brussel - †21.3.1862 Wien
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windischgraetz.jpg

Alfred Füsrt zu Windisch-Graetz

wind_hula.png

Břetislav Hůla, 1951. ©LA PNP

wind_dead.png

Oberst Fürst Windischgrätz, commander of IR35 reported dead, 24 June 1859

Windischgrätz is in the book only referred to in a song which Švejk mentions when one of the court doctors asks him which songs he knows. In [I.7] he sings parts of the song in bed, stricken by rheumatism and fortified by patriotic fervour, just before he is carted off to war in a wheelchair by Mrs Müllerová.

Background

Windischgrätz and who the song refers to is somewhat unclear. It has long been believed that the person in question was general Alfred I. Fürst zu Windisch-Graetz (ref. Břetislav Hůla, 1951). He was a famous commander who brutally suppressed the revolutions of 1848, both in Prague and Vienna.

The song in question however refers to events during the second Italian was of independence in 1859, and on this occasion the old field marshal was not involved. On the other hand, his nephew and son-in-law was on duty: Karl Vinzenz 19 October 1821 - 24 June 1859, colonel and commander of IR35 (Pilsen), and he even fell at Solferino. On 18 July his body was brought back to Prague, and the event received extensive press coverage.

The latest German translation of Švejk (Antonín Brousek, Reclam Verlag, 2014) provides extensive "Anmerkungen" (annotations). Both persons are mentioned, but at the first occurrence of the name it claims that Alfred I. is the person in question. On the next mention it is Karl Vinzenz, despite the indisputable fact that Švejk refers to the same song on both occasions. Only a thorough investigation of the etymology behind the song may shed proper light on the apparent contradictions.

Links

Source: Antonín Brousek, Militär-Zeitung

Quote from the novel
[1.4] A také to dál neumím,“ vzdychl Švejk. „Znám ještě první sloku z ,Kde domov můj’ a potom ,Jenerál Windischgrätz a vojenští páni od východu slunce vojnu započali’ a ještě pár takových národních písniček jako ,Zachovej nám, Hospodine’ a ,Když jsme táhli k Jaroměři’ a ,Tisíckrát pozdravujeme Tebe’...“
Index Back Forward I. In the rear Hovudpersonen

4. They threw Švejk out of the madhouse


© 2009 - 2018 Jomar Hønsi Last updated: 19/8-2018