Jaroslav Hasek’s book was brought to me from Brussels, From Prague to Budapestoriginally published by a Hungarian-language Parisian publishing house Ibolya Virag in 1966, then translated into French at breaths, in 1988. The history of this book is more than hazy. I had found it on the website of a Parisian company, through him Amazon.com, and the title attracted me, with its obvious references to Hungary. I had read in History of the Party for Moderate Progress Within the Limits of the Law(History of the Party for Moderate Progress within the Limits of the Law) the satirical reportage of Haşek’s trip to the Hungary of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, sarcastic testimony of the goulash nationalism of the Hungarians and in the title of the book on Amazon I suspected a collection of other sarcastic notes from Hungary. However, since the book could not be ordered for Romania, I chose Ioana’s address from Brussels, an address belonging to the Western world. I didn’t inform Ioana that it was an order for me. I thought she would realize this without me telling her (I had also used her address for Haşek’s book. However, I remembered with an SMS of thanks for the book, which she saw as a gift. Taking advantage of a conversation on the phone on other topics, I told her about Haşek’s book, and asked her to mail it to me. She finally opted for her mother’s as a courier. The next day, I took the book with me to BAR and because I was still sleepy (I had gone to bed late, in order to finish the series once 24), I read the first short stories. Haşek’s prose is no stranger to me. I read not only Let down, but also the collections of sketches and short stories published before 1989 in our country. However, I don’t remember having encountered the first two stories in the current book. The advantage, my great advantage of my earthly forgetfulness, thanks to which I can read a book several times, each time trying the impression that it is new, absolutely new. The first one is titled Memories of the Prague Security and it is a merciless satire of the actions of the secret service whenever Emperor Franz Joseph came to Prague. Among other things, Haşek makes fun of the covert operations in the newsrooms, with the aim of discovering at any cost, including the planting of evidence, Sigurança. The second piece bears the name The unfortunate history of the cat. It satirizes a favorite area of Haşek when it comes to sarcasm:
That of politics.
Two guys – Mr. Hustoles and Mr. Kricka – are fighting for reasons of political rivalry, because they are fans of political parties that are enemies in the electoral campaign. Hustoles’ words to Kricka are more than eloquent for the simple man’s appropriation, without any gain from it, of the enmities between parties and politicians, especially in the election campaign:
“Your party is a band of scoundrels; as soon as a murderer escapes the gallows, he runs off to stand for election under your party’s colors.”
“On these charges” – notes Haşek – “Mr. Kricka answered dryly: The two of us, dear colleague, will have the opportunity to see each other again”.
Mr. Hustoles had a dog that sat all day long on the threshold of his grocery store, petted by all the neighbors. As a result of the previous political controversy, Mr. Kricka puts his eight-year-old son, Josef, “to crush the motan’s tail”. What’s more, it fills him with spit.
“Mr. Kricka’s son acted for a just cause, because the motan, the property of an ideological opponent, personifies the political opponent. Josef was not, therefore, crushing the tail of a representative of the felines, but the tail, if he had such a thing, of an entire political party. So he was not spitting on a motan, but all the members of the party whose adherent this animal was.”
About the irony of politics, especially in its version of swashbuckling passion, I have learned more from Haşek. The current one gives me the idea of a wider study about the irony of politics by Haşek, possibly by comparison with Caragiale.
NOTE: This editorial is taken in its entirety from cristoiublog.ro
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