Friday, July 02, 2010

hašek

As I have mentioned elsewhere, some time ago, John Emerson and I were engaged in a little project. It was the aim of this noble endeavor to translate into English one of the best, yet sadly neglected, works of Jaroslav Hašek, his "Political and Social History of the Party of Moderate Progress Within the Bounds of Law". We didn't get very far - of the 80 chapters, we only managed to translate 5 and review 3 before, well, life happened and I suddenly had neither the time, nor the frame of mind to continue. Which is a crying shame, because the "Political and Social History of the Party of Moderate Progress Within the Bounds of Law" is funny as hell and as poignant a satire on politics, literature, arts and people who engage in those pursuits now as it was at the beginning of the 20th century. Don't let yourself be fooled by the bombastic title - the "History" would be best described as a collection of short stories with Hašek's drinking buddies and other crème de la crème of contemporary Czech society in starring roles, their various faults and misadventures the main target of Hašek's wit and settling scores the chief purpose of the whole enterprise. Written in Hašek's disorganized and rambling style in sometimes colloquial and then suddenly formal Czech, the "History" is a true challenge for any translator and I'll leave it to you to judge how well we did. If by chance you find the translation, well, good, I'm quite certain it should be ascribed to Mr. Emerson's editorial efforts. Any and all errors of whatever type are purely my fault. Enjoy and let me know if we should continue.

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