“Nothing is stranger to man than his own image.” ~ Karel Čapek, R.U.R.
This year marks the 125th anniversary of the birth of Czech writer Karel Čapek (January 9, 1890 – December 25, 1938). Known as a playwright, novelist, short story writer, journalist, children’s author, biographer, and essayist, he wrote on such topics as nationalism, totalitarianism, and consumerism. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature and called a forerunner to such renowned science fiction writers as George Orwell and Aldous Huxley. His plays appeared on Broadway soon after debuting in Prague, and his books have been translated into many languages. He wrote his most renowned play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), which made famous the word “robot” and centers on machines dominating the human race with the threat of extinction. Many of his works debate ethical aspects of industrial inventions including mass production, nuclear weapons, and artificial intelligence. Čapek is noted for his influence on modern Czech literature as well as the development of Czech as a written language. Through his unforgettable works, he expressed his concern for violence in the world, absolute power, and greed, trying to find hope through humor and warning his countrymen of a looming darkness that culminated in WWII.
Photo Courtesy: Karel Čapek Memorial