War With The Newts by Karel Capek. New York. 1937. Putnam's. Translated From The Czech By M. & R. Weatherall. 348 pages.


war with the newts putnams 1937FROM THE PUBLISHER -


   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 might not escape.


Capek KarelKarel Capek (January 9, 1890 - December 25, 1938) was one of the most influential Czech writers of the 20th century. Capek was born in Malé Svatonovice, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary (now Czech Republic). He wrote with intelligence and humour on a wide variety of subjects. His works are known for their interesting and precise descriptions of reality, and Capek is renowned for his excellent work with the Czech language. He is perhaps best known as a science fiction author, who wrote before science fiction became widely recognized as a separate genre. He can be considered one of the founders of classical, non-hardcore European science fiction, a type which focuses on possible future (or alternative) social and human evolution on Earth, rather than technically advanced stories of space travel. However, it is best to classify him with Aldous Huxley and George Orwell as a speculative fiction writer, distinguishing his work from genre-specific hard science fiction. Many of his works discuss ethical and other aspects of revolutionary inventions and processes that were already anticipated in the first half of 20th century. These include mass production, atomic weapons, and post-human intelligent beings such as robots or intelligent salamanders. In addressing these themes, Capek was also expressing fear of impending social disasters, dictatorship, violence, and the unlimited power of corporations, as well as trying to find some hope for human beings.



Other editions:



Capek, Karel. War With The Newts. London. 1937. George Allen and Unwin. . Translated from the Czech by M. & R. Weatherall. 348 pages. hardcover.


war with the newts george allen and unwin 1937FROM THE PUBLISHER -


A highly adaptable kind of newt has been discovered by an old captain, and his discovery is taken up by an international syndicate for the exploitation of cheap labour. The curve of prosperity of mankind rises, while the newts become more and more civilized. Finally the balance begins to tilt, the newts gain the upper hand, and the world crumbles under their homogeneous power, Such is the outline of the story, but within its frame all the burning problems of today, political, social, scientific, cultural, the problem of everyday life, are tackled, projected in caricatures, in ghastly visions, or in the humble discourses of unimportant people. The actuality of this utopia is tremendous. The style is intentionally that of leading articles, of B.B.C. announcements, of the daily shockers, but it exerts the same subtle influence and fascination. If ever this world could be saved through a utopia, Mr. Capek's latest imaginative achievement would stand high on the list. ‘A fantastic satire, bitterly delicious, stinging, merciless, funny, a sort of literary cat-o'- nine-tails by which Mr. Capek takes his crack at the colossal and tragic follies of modern civilisation. It is a fearless and fearful book.’ - Morning Post.




Capek, Karel. War With the Newts. North Haven. 1999. Catbird Press. 0945774109. Translated from the Czech by Ewald Osers. 241 pages. paperback. Cover design by Christopher Lione.



One of the great anti-utopian satires of the twentieth century, an inspiration to writers from Orwell to Vonnegut, at last in a modern translation. Man discovers a species of giant, intelligent newts and learns to exploit them so successfully that the newts gain skills and arms enough to challenge man's place at the top of the animal kingdom. Along the way, Karel Capek satirizes science, runaway capitalism, fascism, journalism, militarism, even Hollywood.







Capek, Karel. War With the Newts. London. 1998. Penguin Books. 0141180951. Translated from the Czech by M. & R. Weatherall. Introduction by Ivan Klima. 348 pages. paperback. Cover photograph - Images Colour Library.




‘It is time to read Capek again for his insouciant laughter and the, anguish of human blindness that lies beneath it. . . He is a joy to read - a wonderfully surprising te1ler of some fairly astonishing and unforgettable tales’ - Arthur Miller. The human world is stunned to discover that there is another intelligent species on the planet - a race of sophisticated, bipedal, amphibious reptiles; ripe for exploitation by mankind. These creatures can be bought and sold en masse, do the work that no human would wish to do, and fight. And perhaps even turn on those who had taken them for granted for so long . . . Written in 1936, WAR WITH THE NEWTS is a darkly humorous commentary on the cruelty and venality of man, the folly of exploitation, and the seeds of conflict. As Europe moved ever closer to the Second World War, the allegory within WAR WITH THE NEWTS was to be proved savagely right. ‘A great writer of the past who speaks to the present in a voice brilliant, clear, honourable, blackly funny and prophetic’ - Kurt Vonnegut. ‘Capek’s work has lost nothing of its freshness and luster . . . He is as great a delight to read today as he ever was.’ - The New York Times.





Capek, Karel. War With the Newts. New York. 1959. Bantam Books. Translated from the Czech by M. & R. Weatherall. Introduction by Lewid Gannett. 241 pages. paperback. FC46.


war with the newts bantam 1959FROM THE PUBLISHER -


In the brief brightness between World War I and World War II. the new republic of Czechoslovakia shone lucidly, a country old in tradition, young in impulse and desire. And perhaps the greatest ‘writer it produced was the impish, elfin, hugely humorous Karel Capek, the man who invented the word ‘robot,’ immediately accepted by most languages; the man who held up a polished mirror of wit and wisdom to mankind’s most cherished foibles. WAR WITH THE NEWTS is Capek’s prophetic and stirring novel about man’s fatal propensity to stuff himself with discovered sweets till he becomes sick - a novel in the great tradition of Lucian, Swift, and Voltaire, perhaps one of the few truly enduring classics written in our times.








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