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Jaroslav Hasek

Jaroslav Hasek

Among the Tramps

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Read by Piotr Czarnota, recorded by Radiofonia Association
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English translation: Katarzyna Wyroślak

The municipal prison of the royal town by the Vistula river was noisy that evening. Outside, by the windows, the sentries were walking with bayonets fixed on their rifles and in the little square, thickly overgrown with grass, children were playing and a few young goats were grazing.

Behind the Kościuszko Mound, on the opposite bank of the Vistula river, the sun was setting; the lightning conductors on houses located by the river were shining in its beams, and the last red light flow of the day flashed within the prison and instantly went out.

English translation: Katarzyna Wyroślak
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Jaroslav Hasek

 (1883–1923 the author of The Good Soldier Švejk, writer, journalist, and editor of anarchist magazines. As an active soldier in the First World War (Eastern front in Galicia, 1915), he provoked his arrest and became a prisoner of war incorporated into the Czechoslovak Brigade. After the outbreak of the October Revolution, Hašek joined the Bolshevik Party. From that time on, he was a Communist, and privately also a bigamist. As such he returned from Russia to Prague in 1920.

Earlier, in the summer of 1903, whilst rambling around the Habsburg monarchy as a junior clerk of a Prague bank, he was detained in the city’s “Pod Telegrafem” prison on Kanonicza Street (corner of Podzamcze Street) charged with vagrancy. In his short story Among the Vagrants Hašek immortalised his experience. An insightful reader will certainly notice that from the perspective of the prison, Hašek misplaced Kościuszko Mound and the sun setting behind it, on the wrong side of the Vistula river.

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