Jaroslav Hašek (1883-1923)

Hašek was a rebel all his life, always in trouble for lampooning one authority figure or another. He was also extensively involved in politics in all its absurdity in his youth; he gravitated toward the Anarchist party but wrote for several different parties. Once he offered the Social Democrats an article poking fun at the National Socialist leaders, and when they did not immediately agree to print it, he changed the names to those of the Social Democratic leaders. With a few more minor alterations the article was ready for its subsequent publication by the National Socialists (Parrott, 76). An inveterate prankster, in 1911 Hašek formed a mock political party of his own: the Party of Moderate Progress within the Bounds of the Law (Parrott, 109).
Despite the fact that he never hesitated to change parties at the drop of a hat, Hašek prided himself on not stooping to criticize others for their private lives and was particularly wounded when others attacked him for his personal escapades (Parrott, 212). Thus, he must have felt that his characters in "Obecní volby" really scraped the bottom of the barrel with their character assassination of one another. As usual, Hašek drew his satire from real life. He made up the names of the political parties, but in real life the Czechs do in fact have a bewildering array of political parties. However, despite their obvious interest in politics, Hašek professed to believe the Czechs to be at a disadvantage in the political arena as an inevitable consequence of their penchant for drinking beer:
- Hungarians have a flair for politics. It is said that when we Czechs argue about politics, we do it over a tankard of beer, while Hungarians do it over a bottle of wine.
- Beer will never make a man as politically developed as wine will, because in vino veritas. And Hungarians go on searching for that truth until they fall under the table. When a Czech falls under the table, he stops talking. But even under the table Hungarians go on arguing about politics. (Parrott, 119)


Parrott, Cecil. The Bad Bohemian: The Life of Jaroslav Hašek, Creator of the Good Soldier Švejk. London: The Bodley Head, 1978.