Karel Capek (pronounced CHAH-pek), 9. 1. 1890 (Male Svatonovice) - 25. 12. 1938 (Prague), Czech writer, playwright, journalist, poet, translator, critic and philosopher. Brother of Josef Capek. Chair of Czechoslovak PEN club at 1925 - 1933. First czech writer significantly successful abroad and doubtlessly one of the greatest Czech writers. In the time of Hitler's threat he was also a great stand-by for the Czech people.

From 1925 friend of the first Czechoslovakia president Tomas Garrigue Masaryk - he wrote books Hovory s T.G.M. (The Talks with T.G.M., Mlceni s T.G.M. (The Silencing with T.G.M.), and Nablizku T.G.M. (Near T.G.M.).

He was a great humanist, his ideas of freedom and equality were particularily appreciable in the time right before World War II. But already after the World War I he started to write novels carrying warning to the mankind - possibility of abusing technics against the basic values of human existence, but also danger of definite single-valued philosophical and political conceptions. His plays and books also show powerful insight to the psychology and sociology. This was especially perspicous in his dramas RUR (famous Rossum's Universal Robots; here the word robot appears the first time ever), Vec Makropulos (Affair Macropulos), novels Tovarna na absolutno (The Absolute at Large), Krakatit and an alegoric play Ze zivota hmyzu (The Life of Insects).

In pragmatic proses Hordubal, Povetron (Aerolite) and Obycejny zivot (Ordinary Life), he develops his conviction about ambiguity of the human's truth and existence of no absolute and universal sense of life.

He travelled a lot around the Europe and described his experiences and feelings in a line of travel feuilletons: Italske listy, Anglicke listy, Vylet do Spanel, Obrazky z Holandska, Cesta na sever.

He created original type of short detective stories (Povidky z jedne kapsy, Povidky z druhe kapsy), he wrote Kniha apokryfu (Apocryphal Tales) and he set out collection of feuilletons, newspaper columns and tiny proses from various periods of his news activities - Zahradnikuv rok (The Year of Gardener), Jak se co dela (How Is What Done) and so on. Some say that these publicistic activities are his greatest heritage to the Czech literature.

Also, you have to count in his creations for children, in particular Devatero pohadek (The Ennead of Fairy Tales) and Dasenka cili Zivot stenete (Dasenka or a Puppy Life).

At the end of the 30s, he once more returned to the utopic writings reflecting the reality in an alerogic way, that includes namely a novel Valka s mloky (The War with the Newts) and his two last dramas Bila nemoc (White Disease) and Matka (Mother).

His writings are pearls of the czech language - it features incomparable scale and quality of pen (his books have genuine style of writing and phrasing, making them to be read easily, with amusement and also with respect for the author) and vocabulary (by counting the words appearing in his writings, it was concluded that his language consisted of more than 11000 czech words), composing either amusing stories or complex serious works with great insight and depth.

However, some others object that his dramas are too focused on their morale, and the persons are not well-developed psychologically and only used to fulfill author's goals and forward the message. Although he worked with his brother Josef at first (in particular, they composed the play Life of Insects together), later they went asunder. Josef, himself writing mainly philosophical and rather challenging works, criticized Karel for being too eye-taking and just making himself popular by writing too trivial literature; he said that Karel's last good book was Bozi muka (apologies, but I can't think out any sufficiently well translation of the title, neither I'm aware of any existing one) from his early period of work, also focusing on philosophy, questions of freedom and meaning of life, and containing motives of mystery and enigma. Nevertheless they stayed friends for the whole life.

Karel Capek was writing for Lidove Noviny (famous Czech newspaper) in 20s and 30s, and together with Frantisek Peroutka he was one of the central persons in the so-called "castle group" of people around the president Masaryk. He also founded a literary group called "Patecnici" (Friday-men), gathering on every Friday in his villa discussing. In about 1935, he was expected to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, however the nacism threat was already raising, and Sweden wanting to ensure its neutrality and safety declined. From then on, things started to get worse and worse. The Czechoslovak newsmen started to publically criticize him in the newspapers, in the shadow of fear of Hitler. The society turned against him out of fear, and he suffered bad of it. In the winter of 1938 he dies, thus making also his final prophet of the soon death of the First Republic of Czechoslovakia (teared apart by Hitler in spring of the next year). His brother Josef dies in one of the last marches of death in 1945.

"The best. This word should be definitively left to the merchants and governments. In each shop is sold the best goods. Each government says that it has the best intentions. Why not to leave it to them! It's enough for us to look for the good goods and good intentions. After all, we don't have even so much of the simply good on the world."

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.