Karel Čapek’s last major novel, War with the Newts, is considered a satirical dystopian masterpiece, both prescient and timeless, uniquely Czech and yet universal. Like much of his work, the book can be read on many levels while its structure transcends standard genres. On the surface, it’s a work of science fiction about how a species of giant, intelligent newts – docile by nature – are ruthlessly exploited, and finally turn on their human oppressors. Along the way, Čapek gently pillories science and journalism (two of his principal preoccupations),
Karel Čapek was a leading Czech interwar novelist, playwright and journalist and is perhaps most remembered for works of science fiction such as The War with the Newts and R.U.R., which gave the world the word “robot”. But did you know that Čapek was also a travel writer? His pieces from around Europe are the focus of the book In Search of a Shared Expression by Mirna Solic, a lecturer at the School of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Glasgow. I spoke to her on the phone from Scotland.
Thursday is the 130th anniversary of the birth of Czech journalist, novelist and dramatist Karel Čapek. Čapek was best known for his science fiction, including the 1936 novel War with the Newts, the 1920 play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), which gave the world the word “robot”. His older brother Josef Čapek was a well-known painter and writer.
Though forced to live in exile for most of his life, the world-renowned pianist Rudolf Firkušný maintained strong Czech traditions at his home in the United States. Indeed, his daughter Véronique Firkusny’s mother tongue was Czech and today she translates leading authors from her parents’ homeland and helps opera singers get to grips with Czech-language works. When we spoke in New York, I first asked Véronique Firkusny how her father had viewed the situation in his native country following the Communist takeover of 1948.
Pe’er Friedmann is currently the only active literary translator from Czech into Hebrew. It was his enthusiasm for Karel Čapek, the best-loved Czech writer of the 1920s and 30s, that first brought him from Tel Aviv to Prague eight years ago, and he has been here ever since. In the Czech Republic there is a lively interest in contemporary Israeli writing and at the same time Pe’er has been battling to encourage Israeli publishers to take more interest in Czech literature. He spoke to David Vaughan.
Little over a week before the centenary of the establishment of Czechoslovakia, a freshly released film brings the state’s founder to the big screen. Talks with T.G. Masaryk reconstructs a single conversation between the “father of the nation” and writer Karel Čapek, another symbol of the First Republic era.
Ninety years ago to this day, on the 12th of August, 1928, Leoš Janáček, one of the most significant Czech composers, died in a hospital in Ostrava. He was brought there from his native Hukvaldy in North Moravia, where he was spending his holidays. The native region was a major inspiration for Janáček. He was interested not only in folk songs, but he also heard musical motives in the melody of the local dialect.
Hundreds of people visited the one-time home of writer Karel Čapek in
Prague’s Vinohrady district on Friday. The Prague 10 district authority
opened the villa to the public in connection with this year’s 100th
anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia.
The country’s first president, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, and famous journalist Ferdinand Peroutka were among the First Republic figures that used to meet at Čapek’s home.
Prague 10 Town Hall said there was so much interest in visiting the villa, which it is planning to renovate, that a second open day will be held on August 9.