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Karel Capek

The Progressive Historian on Karel Capek (via CESLIT):

Karel Capek was born in what is now the Czech Republic, but what belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire when he was born in 1890. In a period of less than a decade, the Czech lands saw the birth of three titans of early 20th century literature: the raucous Slavic Cervantes Karel Hasek, the moody Jewish-German genius Franz Kafka, and the relentless innovator Karel Capek.

By the time the Czech lands achieved their independence, the Czech language and identity were still struggling to define themselves after having been nearly obliterated during centuries of foreign rule and forced use of German. Some groundwork had been laid in the 19th century by good (but not great) poets like Erben, Nemcová and Neruda, but Capek’s virtuoso skill with the language and his expansion of that skill into such disparate genres as newspaper editorial, science fiction fantasy, and technical handbooks made possible later Czech writers like Kundera, Skvorecký, Hrabal, Klíma, and Havel.



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