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Forrest Gump might be more innocent; but the Good Soldier Svejk came first!

Out of Chicago comes the Good Soldier Svejk: the original Forrest Gump!

Ruth Cooper reveals the seecret of why Svejk will become a household name among readers of English as well at last!

Look down and click to listen!

This Chicago woman believes
you won't be able to put     
the book down, and    
 here she tells you why:

You don't want to miss it.

read on inside the Chicago Reader . . .

HTML Text Version

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The Chicago Reader featured the story of our new Good Soldier Svejk translation on July 16, 1999 in this cover article:

The Chicago Reader, July 16, 1999

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Graphics Version

click here to open the Chicago Reader cover story . . .

The Chicago Tribune
ran an article on the cover
of its Tempo section
on August 9, 2000:

"'Svejk,' a biting anti-war tale of a survival-bent Everyman, gets an English retelling that captures the charms of the original Czech novel."

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Click here to read the Chicago Tribune Tempo section Cover Story!

click here to open the Chicago Tribune story . . .

read on inside the Oregonian . . .

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The Portland Oregonian
review appeared on Christmas Eve, Sunday, December 24, 2000:

"Sadlon and Joyce's new translation is so joyful and audacious in its headlong hurtle through Hasek's story that it deserves to become the standard English version."

Read the story in the Oregonian!

Read the perceptive, erudite and courageous review
of the Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier Svejk During the World War, Book One
by Richard Seltzer, weekly book reviewer for .

"The resurrection of the Good Soldier Svejk. New translation brings classic comedy to life."

Richard Seltzer is an Internet "evangelist" and consultant who graduated from Yale with a major in English in 1969, had a year of grad school in comparative literature (Russian, German, French) at Yale before the Army (Viet Nam days) interrupted his academic career, and eventually got an MA in Comparative Literature from U of Mass. Amherst 1972. His translation from the Russian of two books about Ethiopia by Alexander Bulatovich was published  by Red Sea Press as Ethiopia Through Russian Eyes.

October 14, 2018

"This is a fantastically good English translation of the novel which I purchased online in 2009, from a website that is still up. ."

Stanley Q Woodvine
an illustrator, graphic designer, and a writer,

sqwabb blog  - A view from the street, but with no particular focus
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

March 23, 2018

"Far better than the Parrot.  I can read the original Czech so much obliged to your translation! ... When I have used your translation, I have done so in league with Parrot's and made my own notes as to the translation choices.  It's a tough book to translate, clearly."

Malynne Sternstein, Associate Professor of Russian and East European Studies at the University of Chicago, Director of the Masters Program in the Humanities (MAPH)

January 31, 2018

"... which translation you read will give you a different experience with the titular character, and the story in general. In short, the Sadlon translation gives the reader a novel with extraordinarily more depth and layers than the Parrot translation. ...  Parrot’s vernacular obscures the subtleties and nuances that make a huge difference in what Hašek was communicating to the reader. I can’t state this enough, the Sadlon edition is a much different book that unmasks a significantly more intricate picture ..."

Corto, on GoodReads

 June 17, 2016

a book to read every few years - always something new to enjoy - as well as what you anticipate from previous readings

Dave Fillary on

March 9, 2016

Important book and also a good style. Very interesting...

Martin Horrocks on

May 12, 2015

Anti establishment humour and anti war feelings abound... and this series is one of the top, and shows how universal this feeling is.

Andrew J Burns on

October 20, 2014

Very good and funny for those interested in the mal-functionings of governmnet (in this case Austria-Hungary in the first world war)

Sophie Ydstie on

March 28, 2013

I almost never rate anything 5 stars because I can be very fond of something but still not "love" it. This book is a rare exception and is one of my all-time favorite pieces of literature.

John Schwenck on

March 13, 2013

It's good to find a fresh translation of this wonderful book. Svejk has come back to life and lost none of his charm.

locum on

March 13, 2012

I bought the first book a few years ago after reading the Parrott translation ... The new translation works much better in English and I eagerly anticipate reading all three together. ... Hasek was a brilliant author.

Devin Hahn

February 13, 2012

I really enjoyed this and would recommend it to anyone it's a classic and the translation seems excellent to me. Witty rather than side-splitting ... it's just such a pleasure to be able to read this all again. Wonderful, forget the grumblers and grab a copy now you won't regret it! - commenting on Book One (Kindle Edition)

Ludwig B on

January 3, 2012

Great old story - very funny. One of the great old novels about the madness of War - World War I. I enjoyed it in my childhood and I also love it now. One of the few books that reads as well when you are an adult, as you remember it from childhood. Enjoy ! - commenting on Book(s) Three and Four (Kindle Edition)

R. Baron on

August 25, 2011

Hilarious! I'm a little too old to suggest that I "laugh out loud", but this certainly had me giggling gently in my armchair ... It is so funny because it still rings true. If you've spent any time in any branch of the military, you will see direct parallels. If you haven't, read this to understand where the cynical, black humour of military men comes from. I'll certainly be treating myself to the next two installments. - commenting on Book One (Kindle Edition)

Dave Wilcock on


The absurdity of IT departments with top heavy bureaucracy can be compared only with the military bureaucracy and this old book describing World War I is a good introduction to the subject :-)

Nikolai N. Bezroukov, (Budd Lake, NJ) on

August 19, 2010

What a great gift to America you have given with your translations of Svejk. Personally, whenever I have a bit of political writing to do, I always read a page or two of whatever volume of the novel I happen to be reading at the time, in order to get into the proper mental mode for my work. Best to you and keep on svejking,

Bill Hatch

April 18, 2010

I have been through five translations in various languages and it's obvious that all these have their shortcomings, some serious, others less so. This new translation by Zenny Sadlon does, however, come a long way towards addressing the problems of the previous English translation. ... This is a translation I can wholeheartedly recommend, no doubt the best there is in English.

Jomar Hønsi

January 15, 2007

Okay, I'm hooked.  I read the first couple of chapters of your translation last night and so far I'm well impressed. ... To tell the truth, I always guessed there was a lot wrong with Parrott's translation. ... What I found hard to believe, was that the original would have been written in such a boring middle class tone where Svejk's anecdotes could actually make you think "come on, get to the friggin point."  I was sure they must have been written far more entertainingly by Hasek and in a much more proletarian manner. ... Parrott writes in this awful middle class "standard English" which is of course, a language spoken by about 2% of the British population, and which is immediately alienating to most people here. ... Working class American English seems to me to be something that will be understood by everyone here (after all, we all watch the Simpsons) much better than the Oxbridge English of Parrott. ... Like I say, it's 100 times more readable than the Parrott job and speaks the language of the spit and sawdust pub - which seems absolutely appropriate to me.

Rob, UK

August 18, 2005

I just finished the first book and only wish I had more. I found your translation better in many ways, whether because the use of language is more modern or because it’s more true to the original, I can’t say. I notice such little things as this:

in the Cecil Parrott translation, Svejk’s trademark phrase is “humbly report, sir, that ... “

in your translation, it’s rendered as “dutifully report, sir, that ... “

At first I didn’t like the change, not because of its meaning but because of how it plays on the tongue, humbly report being easier and I believe more commonly used in English (aside from Svejk). The phrase “dutifully report” is a bit harder on the tongue and almost never used in English (outside of your translation). As I continued reading, however, the meaning of the phrase began to resonate: dutifully means that the speaker did or is reporting whatever, not so much of his own volition, but because as a soldier, everything he does is subject to his being ordered. The difference in meaning is huge, though since I neither speak Czech nor have a copy of the book in Czech, I can’t say which is truer to the original. From what I know of the Czechs I have met, I believe yours fits the passive-aggressive posture of Svejk and as I’m told – by Czechs -- but haven’t witnessed, of many Czechs.

Of course, there are many other differences that I find reflect better on your translation. I do speak and understand German, so the use of the terms “putzfleck” works MUCH better than Parrott’s use of “batman,” which no longer retains much of its original meaning in English thanks to the comic book hero of the same name. Putzfleck is so “typisch deutsch” that it makes me laugh each time I see it.

Long story short, kudos on your work and I certainly hope you finish it.


August 10, 2005

i am bout halfway thru yer translayshun of svejk. caint hardly putt it down. it moves much faster than the everyman liberry edishun i red, witch thats the cecil parrott translayshun that reads lack twuz frum the 19 th centry. yers reads lack tiz one of the mos modurn novels of the 20th cent (n i dun red most of em). i hope ye kin perseveer till ye git all them books translated.

Buddy Don
wandering hillbilly

November 18, 2004

Just wanted to drop you a line and tell you how much I enjoyed your translation of Book One. I see where the English might have a problem with the odd colloquialism here or there, but boy, does it read a lot faster than the Parrott translation!

Karl J. Paloucek
Senior Writer
Tribune Media Services

November 17, 2004

... the novel's continued resonance suggest how deep a nerve Hasek touched. His comic hero highlights the illogic of war so brilliantly that Svejk's character has been absorbed into Western culture, speaking to many generations and their different wars.... it is a relief to get to page 752 in the clunky 1970's translation by Sir Cecil Parrott, once the British ambassador to Czechoslovakia but no literary stylist. ... [it] has such stilted language that reading it is a slog ... A more recent translation of the first volume, by Zenny K. Sadlon and Mike Joyce, is far more fluent.

Caryn James
Critic at Large
The New York Times

November 13, 2004

We are trying to get the best translations of the books we choose and were very happy with what a nice job you did on Svejk, getting across the intelligence and subtlety and avoiding making it farce.

Gwen Willems
Board of Directors
Czech and Slovak Cultural Center of Minnesota

October 12, 2004

Amazing Satire

I bought the old translation of this book for a class, and then I happened upon this translation on I ended up buying it, and now my only regret is that I will have to read Books Two and Three from the old version. The translation allows for fluid, enjoyable reading, filled with an irony and humor that I have rarely found in translations of any book. ... I will be eagerly awaiting the further translations by Zenny Sadlon and Mike Joyce, because the older translation does not even compare to the older, and, frankly, less funny translations. ... Unlike other anti-war protestors or observers in most other anti-war tracts, Svejk stands out as someone who accepts the premises of the ruling class to such a degree that they are, themselves, embarassed to have set them forth. I thank goodness that this new translation lets that shine through, far from the old and stilted language of past translations. It is worth the money and time to wait for the new volumes of Books Two and Three to be published, and to buy Book One in this new translation, rather than to waste any time and money on an old translation that misses the point and insults the spirit of the genius Jaroslav Hasek who so beautifully and hilariously told the story of Svejk the good soldier and his fateful adventures.

Daniel N. Lenhoff

April 5, 2004

I read a chapter of Parrot's translation only after reading yours. Yours IS much better. Captures that lively, humorous, satirical mood unlike the staid British translation. I like British humor, I like Czech/Slovak humor, but it did not meld.

Donna Escallier

April 3, 2004

concerning ... new English translation of "The Good Soldier Svejk" by the author Zenny K. Sadlon. ... I thought his first book was very funnier than the earlier English translation.

Austro-Hungarian Land Forces Discussion Forum

March 28, 2004

. . . I want to read the next three books. Your translation of the first book was so good, I felt the lilt of the Czech words behind the English translation.. . . Please hurry with your translations.

Verne E. Rezabek

August 30, 2002

Yes, there can be a near-perfect translation

I own this book and the Czech original. Before I got this particular translation, I used to feel sorry that my American son would never be able to get a glimpse into the mentality of a nation living at the bottom of the food chain, powerless but never defeated. This book captures perfectly the spirit of Svejk, his seemingly pointless rambbling, apparent half-wit, and his truly folk origin. . . .


October 5, 2001

A Translation That Serves Justice To Hasek's Language

As someone who has lived in the Czech Republic for a number of years and who speaks Czech at an intermediate level, I can safely say that this translation is far superior than the Cecil Parrot one. As a student of Hasek's work, I have read the Parrot translation three times, so when I picked up Zenny's translation and started to read, I was electrified. Here was the language that most Czechs were sure could never be translated. Instead of holding back as Parrot did, Zenny unleashes the full volley of Hasek's humor, not afraid to use the vulgar language that Hasek often employed. This book brings the reader much, much closer to the spirit and character of the wonderful Svejk. I praise Zenny for a job well done and can't wait to read the next installation of the book.

So for all those Czechs out there who thought that this book was not translatable, read this one. You will sure be surprised. And for those of you who don't know who is this Good Soldier Svejk, I suggest that you get your hands on this book and start reading. Hasek employs the type of humor that has you laughing and crying at the same time, because he uses humor, irony, satire and a healthy dose of truth to expose the absurdities of our modern world.

David Schwenk

September 7, 2001

I just finished reading your translation of Book One and thought it was outstanding! I was immediately struck by the freshness of the language and how closely you kept it to Hasek's use of Czech. I didn't realize how stilted Parrott's language was until I read your translation. Three cheers for a job well done.

January 3, 2001

I first read "Svejk," probably more than 35 years ago, in Paul Selver's original English version. I believe Parrott improved significantly on that translation. Sadlon and Joyce, to my mind, have taken things a step further by restoring the book's fresh, journalistic, crude energy.

Bob Hicks

 January 2, 2001

I must say that I am ecstatic about your new translation of Svejk. I was entertained in the same degree (and in the same spots) as by the Czech original. In addition, this new translation also preserves the rhythm of the sentences, their overall sense and spirit.

That is all which the old translation lacks in a catastrophic measure. The old translation is awkward to a, as we say in Czech, "break-neck" degree, unreadable, and for the common reader hard to understand. I think that the old translation should have never appeared in the book marketplace - alas, it happened.

As a native Czech I can tell you that the author of the previous translation (perhaps due to his intellectualism) did not get what Hasek’s novel is about at all. His language is the language of high society evening parties - while Hasek’s Svejk speaks with the tongue of public houses in the fourth [i.e., grade D, the cheapest] price category.

I am convinced that thanks to this new translation the resurrection and the rediscovery of this never-to-die book for and by millions and millions of readers in Anglophone countries is taking place indeed.

Zdeněk Smrčka, M.D.
Information specialist/Librarian
The Czech Republic

December 3, 2000

I have been trying to read the Penguin translation for 3 weeks now and I can't get into it.  After reading your promotional material, I feel like I am wasting my time. Can you please send over 3 or 4 copies of YOUR translation to me? 

December 12, 2000

Thank you very much for sending the books.  We are all reading them.  It is a fabulous translation! I am almost finished reading your translation!  It is so much better than the Penguin [edition].  Thank you very much for sending it over.

Jim Casey
Director of Public Relations

Chicago Opera Theater

October 15, 2000

I have been gobbling up Svejk the past couple nights. The Parrott translation used to put me to sleep. This translation makes me laugh so hard I have a hard time going to sleep.

Rebecca Lindwall
Editor, Slovo

National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library
Cedar Rapids, IA

September 24, 2000

Please advise when books 2 and 3 will become available! I am very pleased with book 1 and can hardly wait for the next 2 books.  Please accept my compliments for a fine piece of work! 


Clarence Mancik

September 1, 2000

I just wanted to say thanks for the new translation! I became curious about Svejk's adventures while reading Milan Kundera, then read parts of his stories in German translation and have wanted to read about them in English ever since. I'm thoroughly enjoying your translation. Please hurry with the subsequent volumes!

Charles Marth

August 7, 2000

Can't wait for books 2 & 3!

Laurie Drake

Here are the blurbs from the back cover of our paperback:


"Hasek’s brilliant invention of Svejk, the card-carrying imbecile, and his remarkable adventures, provided many hours of uproarious laughter . . . It is very good to see that classic Eastern European literature is making its way into the culture. Svejk lives!"

- Larry Heinemann, National Book Award winner, fiction, for Paco’s Story (Farar, Straus & Giroux) in 1986;
also the author of Close Quarters , FS&G, 1977,
and Cooler by the Lake , FS&G, 1992.

"Justice is a term rarely found in 'literary' discussions, but Mike Joyce and Zenny Sadlon have sought and delivered exactly that to Jaroslav Hasek and the rest of us.

"This translation of The Good Soldier Svejk comes closer to Hasek's original absurdist protests of war, class systems, and government than the previous English translation tried to convey. Unable to read Czech, I can only put their translation up next to its predecessor and cast my vote.

"In their effort, Joyce and Sadlon remind us that 'justice' in any arena - especially literary - has to be fought for. I believe those who read this book will join the fight."

- Zak Mucha, author of 
The Beggars' Shore , Red 71 Press, 1999.

"Jaroslav Hasek’s The Good Soldier Svejk is one of the world’s great novels, and this is a brilliant new translation.

"Captured here for the first time in the English language is the zany, colloquial audacity of Hasek’s wild genius — Svejk is no dainty classic meant to fade quietly into obscurity on the dusty shelves of academia, but a bellowing barroom brawl of a book that will forever have everyday people doubled-up with the painful laughter of recognition.

"Catch 22, Slaughterhouse Five and countless other cherished works owe a great deal to Svejk, and the English-speaking world owes a great deal to Zenny Sadlon and Mike Joyce."

- Don De Grazia, author of American Skin ,
published in the U.K. by Jonathan Cape as a hard cover,
by Vintage as a paperback
and  in the U.S. by Scribner, 2000,
teaches fiction writing at Columbia College.

"Just remember: Svejk is actually just a European Forrest Gump. Because Forrest was the same thing. He just kept getting into trouble and managing come out O.K. And it’s the same thing Svejk did. I mean, he got into some situations that I thought ‘O.K., that’s it. The book is gonna end soon now’, and somehow he just came out smelling like a rose . . .

"This man is not supposed to make it. And he saw people dying in the hospital, and he was begging for the treatment that they were dying from. And he managed to survive that, not only survive it but get out of it. And everything that happened to him he just managed to overcome it. You’re rooting for him, because you really want to make sure that he gets out O.K."

Ruth Cooper, a retired African-American microbiology technician, avid book reader and a volunteer critic.