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Karel Čapek (1890–1938)

Author of War with the Newts

251+ Works 6,034 Members 146 Reviews 26 Favorited

About the Author

Karel Capek is best known abroad for his plays, but at home he is also revered as an accomplished novelist, short-story writer, essayist, and writer of political articles. His bitingly satirical novel The War with the Newts (1936) reveals his understanding of the possible consequences of scientific show more advance. The novel Krakatit (1924), about an explosive that could destroy the world, foreshadows the feared potential of a nuclear disaster. In his numerous short stories he depicts the problems of modern life and common people in a humorous and whimsically philosophical fashion. The plays of Karel Capek presage the Theater of the Absurd. R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) (1921) was a satire on the machine age. He created the word robot from the Czech noun robota, meaning "work" for the human-made automatons who in that play took over the world, leaving only one human being alive. The Insect Comedy (1921), whose characters are insects, is an ironic fantasy on human weakness. The Makropoulos Secret (1923), later used as the basis for Leos Janacek's opera, was an experimental piece that questioned whether immortality is really desirable. All the plays have been produced successfully in New York. Most deal satirically with the modern machine age or with war. Underlying all his work, though, is a faith in humanity, truth, justice, and democracy, which has made him one of the most beloved of all Czech writers. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Disambiguation Notice:

Karel Capek is only himself. He is not himself and his brother, who is a separate person. Therefore, do not combine this page with any of the author pages that include both their names. Thank you for your help.

Image credit: Photo © ÖNB/Wien


Works by Karel Čapek

War with the Newts (1936) 1,933 copies
R.U.R. (1921) 971 copies
The Gardener's Year (1929) 428 copies
Tales from Two Pockets (1994) 299 copies
Apocryphal Tales (1932) — Author — 239 copies
The Absolute at Large (1922) — Author — 224 copies
Hordubal / Meteor / An Ordinary Life (1933) — Author — 202 copies
Krakatit (1924) — Author — 130 copies
RUR & War with the Newts (1920) 121 copies
Talks with T. G. Masaryk (1935) — Author — 100 copies
An Ordinary Life (1934) 63 copies
Letters from England (1924) 57 copies
Voyage vers le Nord (1936) 46 copies
Hordubal (1933) — Author — 45 copies
Meteor (1934) 43 copies
The White Disease (1937) — Author — 36 copies
Cross Roads (1938) 34 copies
Letters from Holland (1933) 34 copies
Letters from Spain (1932) 26 copies
Fabeln und Kleingeschichten (1983) 22 copies
The Cheat (1899) 21 copies
The First Rescue Party (1975) 20 copies
Výbor francouzské poezie (2000) 15 copies
Letters from Italy (1923) 15 copies
The Makropoulos Secret (1922) 13 copies
How They Do It (1945) 11 copies
Bilder aus der Heimat (1988) 9 copies
Intimate Things (1936) 8 copies
R.U.R. (2004) 7 copies
Povídky z jedné kapsy (2007) 7 copies
Money and Other Stories (2000) 6 copies
Povídky z druhé kapsy (2000) 6 copies
Reisebilder (1978) 6 copies
Vom Menschen (1944) 5 copies
Boží muka (2000) 5 copies
La confesión de Don Juan (1992) 4 copies
Karel Čapek fotografuje- (1989) 4 copies
Semenderle Savas (2008) 4 copies
A Long Cat Tale (1996) 3 copies
Listy z podróży (2011) 3 copies
Power and Glory (1938) 3 copies
Prague Mysteries (2015) 3 copies
Smrt Archimédova (2014) 3 copies
Prinsessen av Solimania (1985) 3 copies
O ljudima (2022) 2 copies
The Fortune-Teller (1996) 2 copies
L'any del jardiner (2023) 2 copies
Favole (1994) 2 copies
Skoro modlitby (2020) 2 copies
Čtení Otgm 2 copies
The Robber (2005) 2 copies
Aforyzmy (1988) 2 copies
Valitud teosed 2 copies
Krakonošova zahrada (2000) 2 copies
Kertomuksia 2 copies
Pohádky (2000) 2 copies
Three novels 2 copies
Dramen 2 copies
Märchen (1983) 2 copies
Kínos történetek (1980) 2 copies
La Maladie blanche (2022) 1 copy
Semenderlerle Savas (2022) 1 copy
Novelle 1 copy
Inu to neko no ohanasu (1998) 1 copy
Избранное (2003) 1 copy
System 1 copy
Money 1 copy
Musaion 1 copy
Meteor (1934) 1 copy
Hovory s T.G.M. (2009) 1 copy
Věc Makropulos (2021) 1 copy
Loupežník (2013) 1 copy
Čtyři cestopisy (2018) 1 copy
Vylet Do Spanel (2000) 1 copy
Korespondence. 2 (1993) 1 copy
Korespondence. 1 (1993) 1 copy
2000x: R.U.R. (2000) 1 copy
Gespräche mit Masaryk (1990) 1 copy
Cartea apocrifelor (2004) 1 copy
Marsyas 1 copy
Siradan Bir Cinayet (2010) 1 copy

Associated Works

A World of Great Stories (1947) 253 copies
Great Tales of Science Fiction (1985) — Contributor — 158 copies
The Big Book of Classic Fantasy (2019) — Contributor — 154 copies
Great Modern European Short Stories (1969) — Contributor — 111 copies
The Treasury of Science Fiction Classics (1954) — Contributor — 74 copies
The Road to Science Fiction #6: Around The World (1998) — Contributor — 46 copies
The Arbor House Treasury of Science Fiction Masterpieces (1983) — Contributor — 43 copies
Science Fiction Thinking Machines (1954) — Contributor — 37 copies
Sense of Wonder: A Century of Science Fiction (2011) — Contributor — 29 copies
Twenty best European plays on the American stage (1957) — Contributor — 28 copies
Racconti Gialli (1992) — Author — 20 copies
Treasury of the Theatre: From Ibsen to Sartre (1951) — Contributor — 17 copies
Tales of the Occult (1975) — Author, some editions — 16 copies
My Favorite Mystery Stories (1960) — Contributor — 13 copies
The Favourite Wonder Book (1938) — Contributor — 12 copies
The World of Law, Volume I : The Law in Literature (1960) — Contributor — 12 copies
Murder Without Tears (1946) — Contributor — 9 copies
Tall Short Stories (1960) — Contributor — 9 copies
Contemporary drama : European plays (1956) — Contributor — 4 copies
Selected Czech Tales, (The World's Classics) (1977) — Contributor — 2 copies
Spionhistorier fra hele verden — Contributor — 2 copies
Chaplin básnik smiechu a sľz (1964) — Contributor — 1 copy
Verdens beste kriminalhistorier — Contributor — 1 copy
Explorers of the Infinite (1963) — Contributor — 1 copy


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Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Čapek, Karel
Legal name
Čapek, Karel
Other names
ČAPEK, Karel
CAPEK, Karel
Date of death
Burial location
Vyšehrad cemetery, Prague, Czech Republic
Czech Republic
Country (for map)
Czech Republic
Malé Svatoňovice, Austro-Hungarian Empire
Place of death
Prague, Czechoslovakia
Places of residence
Malé Svatoňovice, Bohemia, Austro-Hungarian Empire
Prague, Czechoslovakia
Stará Huť, Czechoslovakia
Charles University, Prague
The Sorbonne, Paris, France
short-story writer
Čapek, Josef (brother)
Čapek, Karel & Josef (gestalt entity)
Masaryk, Tomáš Garrigue (friend)
Langer, František (colleague)
Poláček, Karel (friend)
PEN Club Czechoslovakia
Disambiguation notice
Karel Capek is only himself. He is not himself and his brother, who is a separate person. Therefore, do not combine this page with any of the author pages that include both their names. Thank you for your help.




An amusing collection of short stories, by Karel Čapek, author of R.U.R. and War With the Newts. These are gently satirical takes on figures from history and literature – Prometheus, Alexander the Great, the Nativity, Hamlet, and so forth. A fun read.
1 vote
setnahkt | 8 other reviews | Aug 29, 2023 |
The only thing I’d read of his before was R.U.R. This is a straightforward story about Hordubal who returns home to his small rural village after spending eight years as a miner in the United States. A devoted and loyal husband, he comes home to a wife who is less than happy to see him. She has been “carrying on” with the hired hand and they plan to do away with Hordubal and take his money. The story is largely about the personalities and the customs and mores of a small rural village. Well done and I look forward tackling the next in the series. Although this is the first volume of his Noetic trilogy, the other stories are unrelated, although each book deals with that part of the intellect or the mind that helps one understand what is true or real. Recommended.… (more)
Gypsy_Boy | Aug 24, 2023 |
Firstly, this is not a story book, it is a play, and it's written as a play.   Which is not to say it's bad, it's just different from what one is used to in ones sci-fi.

But i think the play part is where Karel doesn't do the story, or his point, justice.   Written as a play it's just too hectic, too fast paced, with never ending characters just piling in their piece -- basically, it's the television of its day.

I think that most of what Karel was trying to say about the world and the future gets lost in a load of characters continuously having their say without any having any thoughts.

Yes, beware the robots, a metaphor for the means of production, because the hand that feeds us will eventually turn and bite us and destroy us all.   But this point would have been made much better in a novel, but it is what it is.

For its time it is a great work of sci-fi, and also a direct critique upon humanity and society.   And here we are 100 years after Karel wrote this and most people in the developed world are incapable of feeding themselves, clothing themselves, starting a real fire, making anything, etc..   We've sold our souls to technology and become completely dependent upon it.   And whoever controls that technology controls humanity.   That's what is known as hydraulic despotism, or, as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen would say... 'He who controls the spice, controls the universe.'

Final thoughts on R.U.R.... Worth a quick read for all you anorak-ed, train spotting, sci-fi historians out there -- but otherwise there's not much point.
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5t4n5 | 24 other reviews | Aug 9, 2023 |
"Tak vidíš, takhle se bojuje za lidské životy; není to žádné hrdinství, ale jenom pořádná dřina."

20. prosince 2018 zemřelo v karvinském dole 13 horníků při výbuchu metanu. Ne, že bych obvykle podobnou událost ignoroval, ale popravdě, co zmůžete ze svého Pražského pohodlí víc, než soucitně mručet a sem tam přispět nějakou tou stokorunou. Ostatně o hornictví nevím nic. Shodou okolností jsem však právě v té době měl rozečtenou První partu, a tak jsem si důl po výbuchu metanu, černou jámu a v ní ohnivé peklo, dovedl představit docela snadno. To myslím ukazuje, že Čapek odvedl na svém posledním dokončeném románu tradičně dobrou práci: pomohl čtenáři vcítit se do míst, kam by nejradši nikdy nevkročil a do lidí, s nimiž se možná nikdy nepozná.

Když už se však mistr spisovatel rozhodl vydat do dolu, učinil tak s náležitou přípravou. Možná, že tou řadou odborných termínů, kvůli nimž je vydání pražské knihovny doplněno řadou užitečných poznámek pod čarou, jen tak šermuje a někdo znalý věci by se mu vysmál, mě však přesvědčil dokonale. Čapkův příběh však není o jednom místě a není ani o hornictví celkově, je o lidské povaze, o puzení k hrdinským činům a o tom, že vnitřní život člověka může být nesrovnatelně bohatší než to, co dává najevo na povrch. Jako obvykle tak Čapek vítězí už jen tím, jak laskavě a přitom nelítostně zobrazuje lidské charaktery.

První parta byl můj poslední dosud nepřečtený Čapkův román. Není jeho nejlepší, ale na tom nesejde, i v jihoamerickém altiplanu jsou některé hory vyšší než jiné; když je celé vaše okolí tři a půl kilometru nad mořem, nějaká ta pětitisícovka vás už vůbec nezaskočí. Všude jste ohromně vysoko, jen někde o trochu výš, a taková je Čapkova tvorba: vše z jeho pera je nesmírně dobré, jen pár děl je ještě o něco lepší. První parta mezi ně nepatří, ale i tak jde o skvělé čtení.
… (more)
zajus | Jul 13, 2023 |



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Associated Authors

Josef Čapek Illustrator
Paul Selver Translator
Nigel Playfair Translator
Adam Roberts Introduction
M. Weatherall Translator
R. Weatherall Translator
Marie Weatherall Translator
Hans Ticha Illustrator
Reino Silvanto Translator
Núria Mirabet Translator
Ramon Mas Foreword
Julius Mader Translator
Ivan Klima Introduction
Erik Frisk Translator
Lewis Gannett Introduction


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