He experienced the horrors of two wars and during this time he also covered an immense geographical area. The trip described in this blog is an attempt to retrace his steps from Prague across the Eurasian continent to beyond Lake Baikal in Siberia. The first part of the trip will follow the precisely described route of Josef Švejk, Hašek's inspired literary creation. I left home on April 30 2010 and was back on October 29.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Deserters and tramps

Schwarzenberg sheep-shed (Josef Lada).
After having spent the night in a hay-stack by Putim, Švejk left his company of deserters one early winter morning in 1915. He had been given the advice “vyser na svýho obrlajtnanta” but loyally decided not to "shit on his Senior Lieutenant". So he continued his tireless quest to re-join his regiment, still convinced that he would somehow reach that Budějovice.
I took the train to Ražice early one morning and continued in the steps of my hero. By now Švejk had met a tramp who was eager to help the "deserter" and who gave him all sorts of advice. Four hours walk south of Štěkeň they headed for the Švarcenberský ovčín, a sheep-shed belonging to the   aristocratic Schwarzenberg family. It is not known exactly where this was. Radko Pytlík thinks it was somewhere near Skočice and judging by the topology around there he is probably right. If the description in Švejk is accurate it would have been somewhere to the south of the village, near Dub.
The day was wet and cold so I decided to let sheep-sheds be sheep-sheds, there was no way I was going to crawl around in the forest looking for a needle in a hay-stack. Instead I headed directly for Skočice which is also mentioned in Švejk; famously by the poor old woman Pejzlerka, who when interrogated at the police station in Putim exclaimed: Panenko Marie skočicka! The Virgin Mary of Skočice is still there; as the name of the church and even physically as a roadside shrine!
Panenka Marie Skočická.
It was a shorter leg this day, 20 km at the most. I rounded it off in Protivín, a town Švejk avoided but I decided would be a convenient stop. It is a railway junction with frequent trains back to Písek. It is also the home of  the Platan brewery, known for its good jedenáctka. Otherwise the town has few attractions, being more functional than pretty. Walking along asphalted roads in grey weather is not much to write about, therefore this short letter.
The attentive reader, particularly those who have seen the map in Cecil Parrott's translation, might have noticed that my own route had  by now deviated considerably from Švejk's assumed route. I have not touched places like Horažďovice, Strakonice, Volyně, Dub and Vodňany. Why? They are not part of the narrative at all, they are only places that Švejk later claims to have been too. Visiting these places would also have added nearly 100 km to the anabasis, the detour to Horažďovice in particular would have been hard  work. So Švejkolog's of the world, excuse me... 

1 comment:

  1. You are excused. We needed you to remain strong for the rest of the journey, outside of our Emperor's realm ...