Jaroslav Hasek

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Jaroslav Hasek (1883-1923) was a Czech author and humourist best known for writing the satirical novel The Good Soldier Svejk, the picaresque account of a Czech soldier in the Austro-Hungarian army in the First World War. The work was unfinished on Hasek's death.

Hasek was attracted to anarchism before taking up a career - if it can be so described for so disorganised an individual - as a writer and journalist. He had also worked as a dog salesman, and was dismissed as editor of a periodical called Animal World for writing spoof articles about imaginary beasts. In 1914 he joined the Austrian Army, was captured by the Russians in 1915, and in 1916 joined the pro-Allied and pro-independence Czech Legion. He returned to his home city of Prague in 1919, only to be vilified as a traitor for his flirtation with Bolshevism during the latter part of his period in Russia. There he attempted to complete Svejk, but died on 23 January 1923 of tuberculosis acquired during his wartime service.