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War with the Newts (1937)

by Karel Čapek

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,653497,789 (4.05)138
Originally written in 1936, two years before Capek's death and three years before the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia, War with the Newts is considered by many to be Capek's greatest book. Working in the "fantastic" satiric tradition of Wells, Orwell, and Vonnegut, Capek chronicles the discovery of a colony of highly intelligent giant salamanders off the coast of an Indonesian island. Capek sardonically details all the reactions of the civilized world - from horror to skepticism, from intellectual fascination to mercantile opportunism - and the ultimate destruction from which it (and the newts) might not escape.… (more)
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» See also 138 mentions

English (38)  Dutch (2)  German (2)  Finnish (1)  Swedish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Danish (1)  French (1)  Hebrew (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (49)
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
Both a sci-fi and a satirical read. Light on the sci-fi and heavy on the satire. This book was written in 1936 and the author takes a lot of pot-shots at the Nazis, if you know your history. He died before the Nazi's could come after him. I believe the entire premise of the book is that man must live in a homogenous society to be happy; he will annihilate anything different. I thought the first third and the last third a compelling read, but it bogged down in the middle. I think this might have been a better short story than a novel, although I'm glad I read it. ( )
  Tess_W | Feb 20, 2021 |
A classic of the genre, so I am told, and I can see why. Satirizes Western Civilization & capitalism pretty effectively. It's a bit slow in the beginning, and there is an early interaction between Captain Van Toch (discoverer of the newts) and Mr. Bondy, the business magnate who brings them to the world, that does not ring true to me. But once we get past this, the story unfolds in a way best described as harsh but fair. ( )
  Jon_Hansen | Dec 28, 2020 |
Hihetetlenül nagy meglepetés. Zseniális regény az emberi fantázia és az emberi butaság határtalanságáról. Szinte hihetetlen, hogy 1936-ban keletkezett és mégis mennyi mindent tud a 21. századról. Avagy az ember lényege mennyire változatlan akár évezredek alatt. Komoly kritikája a kapitalizmusnak, a nácizmusnak, amit meg sem ért és a média, a tudományos nagyképűség világának, amiből csak ízelítőt kapott a szerző. Élvezetes volt olvasni elejétől végig. Fordulatos, bár egyáltalán nem meglepő cselekmény, remek karakterek, végigvitt tények és sorsok. Bámulatosan jól bánik az alapanyaggal. Fanyar humor, mert minden poén betalál nem csak az elmébe, hanem a szívbe is. ( )
  gjudit8 | Aug 3, 2020 |
This was a pleasant surprise! And a total satire, too!

1935 and lambasting fascism in a very funny and totally SF way. Little 4 ft lizards as smart as us who can breed like CRAZY, who are totally literal, and who (mostly) follow orders like good soldiers.

Of course, quickly outnumbering the human race at 20 billion, things get a bit hairy despite how much all the leaders of industry love their huge workforce. :)

It was funnier than anything, but the SF concept was nothing to sneeze at. I loved how much humans mistook all their actions and their intelligence, how souls, self-consciousness... even sexiness is so much more important than asking a simple little question... "Is this really a good idea?"

We all miss the point. It's damn fine satire. ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
Marvellous. Although written in 1939, still very relevant. ( )
  HendrikSteyaert | Feb 29, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (55 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Čapek, Karelprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Frisk, ErikTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gannett, LewisIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Glaserová, EliškaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Klima, IvanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mader, JuliusTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mas, RamonForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mirabet, NúriaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Silvanto, ReinoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ticha, HansIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weatherall, MarieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weatherall, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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If you were to look for the little island of Tanah Masa on the map, you would find it right on the equator, a bit to the west of Sumatra; but if on board the ship Kandong Bandoeng you were to ask Captain J. van Toch what is this Tanah Masa before which he has just dropped anchor, he would curse for a while, and then tell you that it is the dirtiest hole in all the Straits, even worse that Tanah Bala and at least as damned as Pini, or Banjak; that the only---I beg your pardon---man who lives there---not counting, of course, those lousy Bataks---is a drunken commercial agent, a cross between a Cuban and a Portuguese, and a bigger thief, heathen, and swine than a pure Cuban and a pure white man put together; and if there is anything damned in this world, then it is the damned life on this damned Tanah Masa, sir.
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Originally written in 1936, two years before Capek's death and three years before the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia, War with the Newts is considered by many to be Capek's greatest book. Working in the "fantastic" satiric tradition of Wells, Orwell, and Vonnegut, Capek chronicles the discovery of a colony of highly intelligent giant salamanders off the coast of an Indonesian island. Capek sardonically details all the reactions of the civilized world - from horror to skepticism, from intellectual fascination to mercantile opportunism - and the ultimate destruction from which it (and the newts) might not escape.

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