Weird Novel By Author of R. U. R.

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The Evening Sun, volume 32, no. 59  (1925) 
Weird Novel By Author of R. U. R by Amy F. Greif

Weird Novel By Author Of “R. U. R.

Krakatit, by Karel Kapek (Macmillan).

Reviewed By Amy F. Greif

THE rising tides of Central European supremacy, on our dramatic and literary scene, has not as yet reached its full measure. Politically, Central Europe is at a low ebb; there are interesting and sometimes not unsuccessful experiments in forms of government new to that land, but the general impression is one of extreme dejection, almost desperation-surely an unpromising atmosphere from which to expect any expression of real dramatic or literary merit. Nevertheless, out of turmoil, there frequently arises the phenix of new hope, new aspirations and determinations.

More often the motive of “escape” is stressed and from this motive scarcely less compelling than any other vital urge of mankind a whole school of expression, literary, dramatic or musical, may emerge, born from the need to leave confusion behind, and soar into the unbounded regions of the imagination. Perhaps this explains Molnar and Kapek. Their world is peopled with dreams; beings of strange proportions who move in an unrecognizable way through hope, love or towering ambition, to a final recognition of the futility of it all. They sometimes utter wise and lovely things, but their experlences have in them a strain of madness. They are impelled, they rush past us at a slightly oblique angle, and as we watch them we try to understand. In this book Kapek has given free reign to the imagination which gave us the mechanical men of his striking play, "R. U. R." He is concerned with the potentialities of mechanism as opposed to human effort, and has visualized vast, terrifying possibilities in the use of explosives as forces of annihilation.

ENGINEER PROKOP has perfected a secret formula called “Krakatit” for an explosive so powerful that in his hands the world would be a mere plaything, to be destroyed at a moment’s whim. How it is stolen from him in an incomplete state during his illness and the attempts of various military agencies to force him to reveal the missing ingredient which will enable them to dominate the earth is the actual story. But so complicated is it with the deliriums of a sick brain, imprisonments in military fortifications, temptations by imperious, passionate princesses and wild midnight flights, that one can scarcely distinguish between reality and hallucination. Which is perhaps superfluous, as there is no reality except the quiet country interlude and Prokop’s love episode with the charming Annie, the country doctor’s daughter, whom we never meet again.

All the rest is the stuff of dreams—ghastly eruptions of whole towns, grinning faces swept away before our eyes, all humanity a great unexploded mass, awaiting only the contact of “Krakatit” to be blown into nothingness. We awaken from this tortured dream to feel its power, its interest, above all the unrest and pain of which It is a symbol and a sign.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published in 1925, before the cutoff of January 1, 1928.

The longest-living author of this work died in 1990, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 32 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.

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