Obecní volby

   This short story by Jaroslav Hašek combines techniques for journalistic and prose fiction writing, a style that is typical of the author. While using details from the actual world of his time (events in the 1900’s to 1910’s), the author hyperbolizes them, bringing them to the level of absurdity.
The story presents not only a humorous picture of the political scene in early twentieth century Bohemia, but also a deeper and perhaps intuitive view of the modern world that lost the border between the fatal and the banal, between the rational and the irrational, and between the believable and unbelievable.
Hašek’s stories differ immensely in quality and allow varied readings. Reading of an isolated short story might give the audience an impression that the story was written just for money. By reading more texts, one can see an anti-utopian vision of the modern world that is based on arbitrariness and artificially constructed meanings.
   The story follows a traditional 19th century pattern to the extent that wisdom appears to be illustrated via description of a concrete event. The idea of local elections is presented as “one of the greatest achievements of human beings.” The local (elections) and the global (achievements of human beings) are juxtaposed throughout the story. So are ideologies of all the candidates and their petty agendas and motives.
The story is written in a rather bookish language that mimics the style of newspaper writing at the turn of the 20th century. The reader is faced with a tremendous amount of details, such as lists of merchandise, criminal offenses and scandals, and loses sight of a unifying meaning or vision. Pettiness of political struggle appears to bring down even the narrator’s point of view; he fails to present a consistent structure, which would otherwise lead to a message or meaning of the text, a style that can be viewed as a departure from the traditional 19th century prose.