Jaroslav Hašek in Barcelona, almost

Just before he died, says Cecil Parrott in The bad Bohemian, the author of The good soldier Å vejk (that’s Shvake: “No one pronounces it Shvike–not even in Germany”) drafted a letter to the district police:

I, the undersigned, ask respectfully to be kindly given the necessary passport for a stay in Spain (Barcelona, Calle Rosellos [sic: presumably Rosellón]) with a view to improving my state of health on the urgent advice of the examining doctor, Dr Novák, and the district doctor, Dr Ressel. I intend to stay in Barcelona with my brother-in-law, A Bejček, in the hope that adequate home and medical cure and a mild climate will permit me to return cured after three months…

Parrott adds:

Hoaxer to the last, Hašek had no brother-in-law in Barcelona. He was referring to one of his former Anarchist friends who often used to take refuge in Spain. According to Longen he had some idea of writing a play set in Spain on the model of a piece which a painter friend from Barcelona had sent him. One of the main characters was to be a mendicant friar and Karel Noll would play the role. Hašek wanted to show the world that he could write serious drama. He would call his piece a newly discovered play by Calderon, and only if it had good reviews would he disclose that he was the real author.

It is intriguing to imagine what our boozing Bolshevik might have got up to in the bloody chaos of early 1920s Barcelona. I’ve never bumped into Mr Bejček in contemporary accounts, and it would be nice to know more about him.

In photos, in addictions, and in longevity HaÅ¡ek resembles Dylan Thomas, infamously described as an English poet by Patricia Tubella in last Saturday’s El país. Serial criminal Rafael Ramos informed us the other week that rosbif was the Frenchman’s favourite food. Are the London correspondents of Spanish newspapers required by contract to maintain a complete and risible ignorance of their subject? Am I a miserable git?

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