By Peter Steiner
Steiner engages six central works ranging from novels to government documents; all, in his view, purvey ideological fictions that exerted significant social influence after they appeared. He begins with Jaroslav Hasek's 1920s novel The Good Soldier Svejk, whose antiauthoritarian protagonist was widely emulated during the Nazi and communist regimes, and ends with Vaclav Havel's play The Beggar's Opera, through whichSteiner explores the social role of Czech writing in the 1970s. He also considers Reportage, by Julius Fucik, which announces itself as a documentary of the Communist party's heroic struggle against the Germans, but is, for Steiner, a fiction arising out of Marxist-Leninist ideology; Karel Capek's Apocryphal Stories; Milan Kundera's novel The Joke; and the 1952 show trial of Rudolf Slansky, the General Secretary of the Communist Party.
- Ithaca, NY