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Jaroslav Hašek was the author of The Good Soldier Švejk, a twentieth-century masterpiece, and one of the funniest novels ever written. He was also, to quote Sir Cecil Parrott, a ‘truant, rebel, vagabond, anarchist, play-actor, practical joker, bohemian (and Bohemian), alcoholic, traitor to the Czech legion, Bolshevik and bigamist.’: in short a Bad Bohemian.
Hašek’s bottle-strewn life, as Sir Cecil makes clear, was the raw material of his fiction; this remarkable biography, the only one in the English language, makes for riotous reading.
Sir Cecil Parrott as well as being the British Ambassador to Czechoslovakia in the 1960s was also the translator of The Good Soldier Švejk (his translation is definitive) and leading authority on Jaroslav Hašek.
‘Sir Cecil coolly untangles Hašek from the coils of rumour, and manages, while performing this delicate scholarly operation, to transmit the raucous glitter of the beer-gardens and night-dives and cafés-chantants which were Hasek’s element. The result is a triumph, and – like all first-rate scholarship – enormously enjoyable.’ Sunday Times
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