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Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Karel Čapek on England


From "Letters from England" by Karel Čapek, translated by Paul Selver, London 1925.

"The trees are perhaps the most beautiful things in England...splendidly broad-shouldered, ancient, generous, free, venerable, vast trees...I was seriously tempted to acknowledge the value of old things, the high mission of old trees, the harmonious comprehensiveness of tradition, and the legitimacy of esteem for everything that is strong enough to preserve itself for ages".

"On the whole, a country which has contrived to produce the finest childhood and the finest old age certainly possesses something of the best there is in this vale of tears".

Discuss.

Amazon Book Description:

"Karel Capek's 'Letters from England' have established themselves as masterpieces of observation. The letters and drawings are humorous, insightful and imbued by a profound humanity. They convey a bemused admiration for England and the English. First published in the nineteen twenties in Lidovc Noviny, the Czechoslovak national newspaper, Capek's Letters from England quickly established themselves as masterpieces of observation, and classics of modern Czech prose. The letters described Europe's oldest democracy for the benefit of the citizens of Europe's newest, and Capek was acutely aware of the deep-down affinity between his countrymen and the English. The same understated humour, the same unflappability, the same quiet search for peace, home and comfort, the same love of nature and animals, served to unite the two people, both then and now. Shortly after Letters from England appeared, Czechoslovakia was betrayed by Britain at Munich, and handed over to Hitler. Capek died shortly afterwards of a broken heart. The book was promptly banned by the Nazis, and published by the exile press, with an English translation by Paul Selver, in London. It was again published in Czechoslovakia in 1946, but, after a brief period, was banned again by the communists. This is a completely new English translation. Letters from England, timely when it first appeared, is yet more timely today, when the English need to be reminded of qualities that once were a source of pride to themselves and admiration to others".

See also, in Czech, R.U.R. by Karel Čapek

Čapek, Karel, 1890-1938

R.U.R. (Czech) (as Author)

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