Capeks RUR V2 - American Association of Teachers of Slavic...

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American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The Slavic and East European Journal. http://www.jstor.org American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages Karel Čapek's R. U. R. and A. N. Tolstoj's Revolt of the Machines Author(s): William E. Harkins Source: The Slavic and East European Journal, Vol. 4, No. 4 (Winter, 1960), pp. 312-318 Published by: American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/304665 Accessed: 28-02-2015 16:22 UTC Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected] This content downloaded from 142.150.190.39 on Sat, 28 Feb 2015 16:22:51 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
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KAREL CAPEK'S R.U.R. AND A.N. TOLSTOJ'S REVOLT OF THE MACHINES By William E. Harkins Columbia University On April 14, 1924, the premibre of A.N. Tolstoj's drama, Revolt of the Machines (Bunt masin), was performed in Leningrad. The work was obviously an adaptation of Karel Capek's well-known Utopian drama, R. U. R., or Rossum's Universal Robots, as the play's expanded title had it. Tolstoj freely admitted that he had taken the theme of his play from Capek, but minimized the extent of his indebtedness. In the introduction to the first edition of his Revolt of the Machines, Tolstoj stated: "The writing of this play was preceded by my acquaintance with the play R. U. R. by the Czech writer Karel Capek. In its turn the theme of R. U.R. had been borrowed from the English and French. My decision to take someone else's theme was supported by the example of the great play- wrights." Thus Tolstoj suggested that the idea of R. U. R. was in effect common property, an international literary theme. He does not state what the English and French sources of Capek's subject are, but one can guess that he was thinking of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Villiers de l'Isle-Adam's L'!ve future. In the first novel a scientist creates an artificial man who turns on his creator and kills him. In LI've future another scientist creates a beautiful female puppet who has no soul, and is therefore incapable of love. Both novels in fact antic- ipate Capek's theme, as well as the philosophic idea behind it. But they lack the broader social and economic implications of Capek's play. Capek's robots, rising to destroy mankind, are actually expressionist symbols of the danger that modern man may be dehumanized by the very world of technological civilization which he has created.
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