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The Good Soldier Švejk

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Jan Vaněk was arguably the most obvious of all the prototypes of characters in The Good Soldier Švejk.

This Who's who page on Jaroslav Hašek presents a gallery of persons from real life who to a varying degree are associated with The Good Soldier Švejk and his creator. Several of the characters in the novel are known to be based on real-life people, mostly officers from Infanterieregiment Nr. 91. Some of Hašek's literary figures carry the full names of their model, some are only thinly disguised and some names diverge from that of their "model", but they can be pinpointed by analyzing the circumstances in which they appear.

A handful of "prototypes" are easily recognisable like Rudolf Lukas and Jan Vaněk, others like Zdeněk Matěj Kuděj and Emanuél Michálek are less obvious inspirations. One would also assume that most of these characters borrow traits from more than one person, one such example is Švejk himself.

A far larger number of assumed prototypes are connected to their literary counterparts by little more than the name. Josef Švejk is here the prime example, but Jan Eybl also fits in this category. The list of prototypes only contains those who inspired characters that directly take part in the plot.

Researchers, the so-called Haškologists, are also included on this page but this list is per 15 June 2022 restricted to Radko Pytlík and two important but relatively unknown contributors to our knowledge about Hašek and Švejk. In due course entries on experts like Václav Menger and Zdena Ančík will be added.


Kompit, Zdenko Václav
*5.8.1862 Praha - †18.9.1926 Praha
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"Konec bahna Prahy", K.L. Kukla, 1927, s.312.

Zdenko Václav Kompit also known as Venca Vyskoč, is without doubt the prototype of the village idiot Pepík Vyskoč from Putim.

Lifeline

"Venca" was born in Prague III., house no. 321, in Malá Strana, son of Karel Kompit and Agnes. His mother died when he was three so he was raised by his father's second wide, Anna. He originally worked as a waiter, in the 1890 population register and the 1910 police record he is listed as a "cellarman". In 1890 there is a remark "blbý" (stupid) by his name in the police register[a].

When this stupidity actually took hold is not known but at some stage he started to walk around pubs and café's, bleated and jumped by the tables and collected money for the spectacle. Venca became a well-known character in the streets of Prague. His main area of operation was around Václavské náměstí and even frequented U Fleků, a tavern that the author of The Good Soldier Švejk knew very well[b].

Obituaries
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Polední list, 19.4.1936.

When "Venca" died on 18 September 1926 at the age of 65, several national and regional newspaper published notices. Lidové noviny even provided a more detailed obituary[b]. The description in this obituary is so close to Jaroslav Hašek's own that there is not even the slightest doubt where the inspiration for the name, the jumping and the bleating came from. Hašek's "deviation" consisted in transferring Vyskoč from Prague to Putim and let Wachtmeister Flanderka hire him as in informer.

Knesl and Kukla
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Augustin Knesl, Večerní Praha, 1983.

Augustin Knesl also noticed the connection between "Venca Vyskoč" and Pepík Vyskoč in his series in Večerní Praha (1983), and refers to an article by Karel Ladislav Kukla in České slovo from 1924[c].

Sources: Jaroslav Šerák, Sergey Soloukh, Augustin Knesl

Literature

References
aPepek VyskočJaroslav Šerák2009 - 2021
bVenca Vyskoč zemřelLidové noviny21.9.1926
cPřekvapení pokračujíAugustin Knesl, Večerní Praha1983

© 2009 - 2022 Jomar Hønsi Last updated: 21.6.2022