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R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) (Penguin Classics) Paperback – March 30, 2004


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (March 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141182083
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141182087
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.3 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #244,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

?A great writer of the past who speaks to the present in a voice brilliant, clear, honorable, blackly funny, and prophetic.? (Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.)"

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Czech --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Leonard Fleisig VINE VOICE on April 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
and not made them well, they imitated humanity so abominably. Hamlet, Act iii, scene 2.

The ultimate problem in Karel Capek's extraordinary play, R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) is that the robots created by humanity's journeymen imitated humanity so abominably well.

Written in 1920 and first produced in 1921 RUR opened to critical worldwide acclaim. Although RUR is best remembered for introducing the word robot into the lexicon (the word was coined by Karel's brother and some time collaborator Josef Capek) it is more a somber reflection on humanity than on the emergence of robots.

The play opens on an unnamed island at some point in time after 1920 where lifelike robots are being produced by Rossum's Universal Robots. The officers of the corporation meet a young lady, Helena, who has come to the island on behalf of the League of Humanity, determined to help liberate these robots from the inhumane working conditions that confront them. The executives fill Helena in on the history of the company, particularly the father-son team of Rossums that developed the first robots. Capek makes it a point to describe the difference between the father and the son. The father was a "scientific materialist" whose desire to create an imitation of man grew out of his wish to prove that God was unnecessary. The son thought this was both silly and inefficient and sought nothing more than to produce robots capable of working non-stop.

Each of the following scenes takes place at some unspecified point in the future. The millions of robots produced take on all the industrial and agricultural work performed formerly by men and women. This leads to unintended consequences. First, the lack of necessity (the need to work) in everyday life leads to a few worker revolts.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By R. D. Allison (dallison@biochem.med.ufl.edu) on June 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
This science fiction play by the Czechoslovakian writer Karel Capek (1890-1938) introduced the word "robot" (from the Czech word "robota" for work). Any serious student of science fiction should read this play. A factory on an island produces robots (actually, in today's terminology, the products being made by this factory are androids, not robots) to do man's labor and to grow his food. But, as the years go by, governments misuse the robots, having them replace soldiers. Robots begin to be used in wars everywhere. They rebel and man is exterminated. However, the robots don't know how to build new robots and discover that they are doomed to extinction as well. But, the sole two robots of a later model discover beauty, compassion, and love. They become a new Adam and Eve. Interestingly, one of the characters in the play builds robots so that man won't have to work. Yet, he doesn't build any to do his work since it is something he enjoys doing.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By LittleTom@AOL.com on November 26, 1997
Format: Paperback
I first read this play in the late 1940's when I was in High School. The author died in 1938 at about the time Turing was "inventing" the Turing Machine. Perhaps the author intended this work as a parable about Bolshevism, but the steady growth of the computer makes it read today like a straight-forward prophecy which will come true in about 50 more years. The technology projected is all wrong in the details, of course, but it is fun to read today and draw the parallels and differences.
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By Alceste on November 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a classic piece of playwriting, way ahead of its time. It is simplistic and it is just a tad melodramatic, but it's going to surprise anyone who thinks artificial intelligence and robotics is just oh, so modern . . . .Capek did it first and it's a really interesting read.
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There are two parts to this classic. There is the play itself. And there is the extensive introduction material with its background and explanatory text.

The play itself is both a very interesting perspective on early thinking about man's relationship with modern technology and a critical reflection on man and his humanity. (Although it isn't terribly deep in its reflection.)

The extensive introduction is a cornucopia of information about the author as well as many events in Europe between the two wars.

In its time this was a worldwide sensation. Obviously the fact that it caught the whole world's attention attests to its historical significance. Who hasn't heard of Robots?

Overall this should be required reading for anyone interested in either modern literature or science fiction or dystopian fiction.
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By Meody Haggerty on January 28, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Needed for a class!
Love the Kindle app!
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Yaakov Ben Shalom on March 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
The word "robot" comes from the Czech word "robota," which in English means "corvee," the obliged labor or servitude that vassals (such as serfs or peasants) had to perform on the lords' estates.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tyson B on July 16, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A very interesting read. Very nice for those who already like science fiction.

The interesting and different thing about Čapek's 'R.U.R.' is that it's actually a stage play. It was written for the stage and as such, you will be reading a script instead of a novel.

A little short (only 84 pages including introductions) however still an enjoyable read with an interesting view of what makes someone/something "human".
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