Inky Depths

From The New York Times, August 16, 2018, by Ben Dolnick:

“War With the Newts,” published in 1936, is a funny, bizarre, dystopian masterpiece, and [its author Karel Capek] deserves a place on the Mount Rushmore of authorial seers, right alongside George Orwell, Aldous Huxley and Margaret Atwood. To the extent that Capek is remembered today, it is largely by crossword puzzlers who know that he invented the word “robot” (and even this is dubious: Capek credits the term to his brother).

Capek was a Czech author, with many books to his name, including War With the Newts, which he wrote during the 1930s. I have worked on a great many crosswords, but the name doesn’t sound familiar, so I don’t think that I had ever heard of Capek, either as an author or the coiner of the word “robot,” before reading this article. I’m intrigued now, so I’ve ordered Capek’s War With the Newts and Nine Fairy Tales: and One More Thrown in for Good Measure from my public library. I am looking forward to reading them. I will probably have to wait a while for WWtN, though, because there are already four holds on the next available copy. I suspect I’m not the only person in town who’s been delving into the inky depths of the The New York Times and coming up with treasure.

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2 Responses to Inky Depths

  1. sprite says:

    My dad had a copy of Capek’s R.U.R. from his college courses, which I never read, but which meant that, while I’ve not read his work, that I did know his name and that he was credited with the term. When I started doing trivia on my work site, I wanted to include that fact, but saw that there the term might have come from his brother instead, which meant that I didn’t write the fact after all. As you know, it’s possible to dive into many rabbit holes in researching trivia, and sometimes it’s better to jump back out before you get too lost in the warren.

  2. chick says:

    I’ve learned to immediately abandon trivia if I find evidence against it (the trivia could still be true, but why spend more time on it when the odds are already against it?), or if it seems like a lot of caveats will be required to make it accurate.

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