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R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback – August 20, 2001

3.9 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Czech
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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Thrift Editions
  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Reprint edition (August 20, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486419266
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486419268
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.3 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #357,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Today Karel Capek's R.U.R. is most famous as the work that introduced the word "robot" (from the Czech word "robit," meaning "work") and for its conceptualization of a bio-mechanical device in human form. Written in 1920, the play startled European audiences, but perhaps had its greatest impact on the New York stage in 1922, where it had particular relevance in the American upward-rush of industrialization of the roaring '20s.

Although the ideas that Capek broached remain extremely influential, the play itself is difficult to evaluate from a modern point of view because in many respects it conforms to then-popular but now outmoded ideas about dramatic structure. Even so, the story of a world gradually consumed and ultimately destroyed through its own technology remains a powerful one--as does the image of the robot, which gradually acquires an unexpected sense of identity and begins to vie with man for domination of the earth.

By and large, plays are written to seen rather than to be read, and this may be particularly true of R.U.R., which proves very difficult to visualize from the page. The seriocomic first act with its emphasis on exposition feels awkward to the modern mind, and the progression of the story has an obvious and awkwardly episodic feel. But it is worth pointing out that if R.U.R. seems obvious to us today, this is because its ideas have been so often used; everything from METROPOLIS to FORBIDDEN PLANET to TERMINATOR, from I ROBOT to RENDEZVOUS WITH RAMA has borrowed from it heavily.

Ultimately, the play asks us to consider who will inherit the earth: man or what man has created? Audiences of the 1920s found this an extremely disconcerting question--and if anything, audiences and readers of the present day will find it more disconcerting still.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very lean version, with some characters being removed or merged with other characters. Whole sections of original dialogue have been removed, or at best, changed. Avoid this version like a robot plague.
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Format: Paperback
Looking for the first appearance of the word 'robot'? Look no further! Czech author Karel Kapek coined the term in this classic play. It is not only the first appearance of the word 'robot', (though, not the first appearance of a mechanical man), it is also a great sciene fiction story (although 'science fiction' was not a widely used term at the time).
Essentially, the story surrounds a manufacturing company that makes robots, and continues to make them in mass quantities even with the looming suspicion they are out of control. The robots revolt, and humanity is all but destroyed and replaced.
Very humorous and biting satire, R.U.R. should satisfy virtually any taste for a well written piece of fiction. Essential for sci-fi fans, and this edition, printed beautifully by Dover, at a very small price, is well worth obtaining ownership and then some!
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Written as early as 1920, this play was the first time the word 'robot' was used, first coined by Karel Capek. In the story robots were fist invented by a character called Rossum, and while he was not immediately successful with his experimentations, his successors were to the extent that eventually robots were able to take over the world. The scene is an island somewhere, presumably in the Atlantic where a handful of skilled scientists have developed these automatons. An outsider, Helena, appears o the scene, ostensibly seeking 'human' rights for the robots & she ends up marrying Domin, head of the scientific team. The play ends when the robots take over & eliminate all mankind, except for Alquist who is the island's handyman and not a scientist. When the robots realise they cannot create new robots they put pressure on Alquist to build new robots which he is unable to do. The story ends with Alquist, the last man, seeing that Primus the robot & Helena the 'robotess' (it is not obvious if this is the original Helena or a robot of the same name) have emotions for each other, says to them as they leave 'Go Adam, Go Eve, the world is yours'.
Capek was probably away ahead of his time in writing this play. It is a precursor of later science-fiction books and the fact than it was written almost 100 years ago puts I in the same league as HG Wells 'The Time Machine' or Jules Verne's 'Robur the Conqueror.
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Man-made men have been in the imagination since man first made anything at all - there were golems and many others. Rossum's Universal Robots were the first robots to be called by that name, though. It's a name that stuck, and stuck in the world's imagination.

This story stands well next to Shelley's "Frankenstein." It's about the made thing that was made too closely in the maker's image. Shelley's story is about intellectual hubris, but Capek's is a bit closer to home. It's about financial hubris, about the dividend above all else, and about what a life is worth - $150, including clothing, plus shipping.

R. U. R. is in the form of a play, which always slows my reading. It's very short, though, and perhaps a bit over-wrought. I guess that packing so much emotional response into such a short script tends to leave that feeling, though. It's also interesting to note that the one visible woman was the downfall of this technological Eden, even if the somehat interchangeable men had been nurturing the apple tree before she got there.

This is a brief story, very readable, and very much to the point for anyone who works with technology. There's always that question, or there should be: what if this one really works?

//wiredweird
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