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Journal Article

Imperium Stupidum: Švejk, Satire, Sabotage, Sabotage

Erica Weitzman
Law and Literature
Vol. 18, No. 2 (Summer 2006), pp. 117-148
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of the Cardozo School of Law
DOI: 10.1525/lal.2006.18.2.117
Stable URL:
Page Count: 33

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Topics: Soldiers, Satire, Novels, Armies, Language, World wars, Laws of war, Police, Humor, Military law
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Imperium Stupidum: Švejk, Satire, Sabotage, Sabotage
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Jaroslav Haŝek's popular World War I satire The Good Soldier Ŝvejk relies for its comic effect on the bumbling antics of its title character and the consequent inconveniences for the Austro-Hungarian army into which he has been conscripted. This article argues that the satire of Ŝvejk lies less in the irreverence and humor of its content than in its deep structural mechanisms of repetition, delay, and non-resistance pushed to the point of absurdity. The concept of "idiocy," key to the novel, serves as a deconstructive or destructive force in relation to the politico-juridical ideologies of early 20th-century nation-statism, militarization, and European imperialism in particular, and to the status of the law within any would-be biopolitical system in general.

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