Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Book Review: The Good Soldier Schweik

The Good Soldier Schweik’ by Jaroslav Hasek opens with the general disbelief and the total commotion created by the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. The good soldier, who was discharged earlier from the army for being feeble minded, in which he is a chronic case, happens to be identified as one of the suspects. No sooner than getting released from the clutches of police, the good soldier gets instructions to join army again. During the ensuing medical tests, he is found to be of unsound mind and sent for further examinations followed by detention.
This book is humor at every turn of page. In fact it is better than the much acclaimed anti-war satire, Catch – 22. Having been in a uniformed service for many years, I found it very easy to identify with each and every character of this novel and relish the dramatic twists and the ludicrous turns. The page who remembers verbatim, every order of his superior, the soldier who can wreck the nerves of his officers by simply parroting their orders, and the associate who successfully remains an epitome of innocence, are quite familiar characters in the lifestyle I followed all those years. So also is the way the protagonists stumble from one absurd situation into another ending up literally everywhere except for the proper slot for the mission. One can confidently say, “The present day military in fact is a true reflection of what is depicted in this book. The proliferation of the irrational, the absurdity at every turn of events and the unpredictability of outcomes are as common now as it is has been depicted in this novel". The author has done a remarkable job of mixing the nonsensical and the meaningful, adding hilarious twists to the routine and, presenting the ridiculous and silly, side by side the dignified to make a lasting effect.