Tropos Kynikos: Jaroslav Hašek's The Good Soldier Švejk

   page  
A 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42
43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61
62 63 64 65 66 67 68

60   The Deserts of Bohemia

from a Gricean perspective, infelicitous.

The implicatures that Diogenes' exploitations of the maxims generate are of a special kind. Let us recall the anecdote about the encounter be­tween the kynik and Alexander the Great, who (with a generosity so sorely lacking among modern politicians) bade Diogenes ask of him any boon he would like. The reply, "Stand out of my light," flouts the M.R. be­cause it is a clear nonsequitur to the ruler's proposition. What it implies, however, is the philosopher's desire to opt out not only from the conver­sation but also from the very power structure that Alexander represented. A simple answer, such as "Leave me alone, I do not care about you or your boons," would surely have been more to the point, but it would hardly have attained the same notoriety. This example of flouting that conceals an actual opting out from the CP is not unique at all. In fact, most such conversational implicatures are merely indirect insults aimed either at particular individuals or at the Athenians as a group. And they serve a dual function. On the one hand, they debase all Diogenes' contemporaries as unworthy beings or inferior intellects. On the other hand, because of their incisive wit and verbal brilliance, they stand as monuments to the kynik's towering presence in a pygmy world. One famous chreia repeated in D. L.'s Lives in several variants well typifies this discursive strategy:

one day Diogenes "lit a lamp in broad daylight and said, as he went about, T am looking for a man' " (43). Needless to say, this utterance bla­tantly fails to fulfill the M.Q1. But its implicature is clear from Plato's re­sponse: "How much pride you expose to view, Diogenes, by seeming not to be proud" (29).46

To get back to Hašek's novel, it is clear that Švejk's verbal behavior is more complex and therefore more difficult to analyze than that of his Greek predecessor. Offhand, I would say that the good soldier virtually never opts out from the operation of a maxim. The only instance of such a breach I could find is Švejk's resistance to providing incriminating evi­dence against Lieutenant Lukáš at his divisional court-martial: He "re­fused to write the sentences dictated to him [for the sake of comparing his and Lukáš's handwriting], claiming that overnight he had forgotten how to write" (377; 375). Cases of clash are more frequent in the text, but they seem to

46 Here are some mutations of this anecdote from D. L. (the pronoun "he" refers to Dio­genes): "Being asked where in Greece he saw good men, he replied, 'Good men nowhere, but good boys at Lacedaemon' " (29); "One day he shouted out for men, and when people collected, hit out at them with his stick, saying, 'It was men I called for, not scoundrels' " (35); "As he was leaving the public baths, somebody inquired if many men were bathing. He said. No. But to another who asked if there was a great crowd of bathers, he said. Yes" (43).

A 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42
43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61
62 63 64 65 66 67 68
   page