Josef Čapek & Karel Čapek

Voiyen Koreis

Voyen Koreis,
administrator of these pages


Karel Čapek

Doggie & Moggie


Josef Čapek

Karel Čapek

Josef Čapek

Karel Čapek

J & K in caricature by Josef Čapek


Josef & Karel Čapek

Josef Čapek & Karel Čapek

It is virtually impossible to think of anyone culturally more important and also more prominent in the country that was then known as Czechoslovakia, between the WW1 and WW2, than the Čapek brothers. While Karel Čapek was always better known of the two, Josef was never too far behind, and when not directly involved he often appears to have been the inspiration behind the works his younger brother wrote. As is the case even with the play R.U.R., which had made Karel internationally famous, in a sense even immortal — where Josef was apparently responsible for just one thing — the invention of the word “robot”. You can read more about that on a separate page.

In the later works of Karel Čapek, written on the eve of the second world war, particularly expressed is the author’s faith in the principles and integrity of the human race. For this he became the nation’s icon and symbol of freedom.  Freedom, sadly, was soon to be taken away from the nation, not to be restored for half a century.  The era of communism was to follow that of fascism almost immediately after the war...

            The robots in our own time have indeed taken over the world, and thus far have done so without the disastrous results that were painted in the dark prophecy by this forerunner of the modern sci-fi writers. Still, time has perhaps been kinder to the older brother Josef, who in life was finding himself mostly in the shadow of his younger sibling. For some time in 2007, Josef Čapek’s Girl in the Pink Dress, a Cubist painting from 1916, was the leading most expensive artwork by a Czech artist, when it fetched nearly a million dollars at an auction in Prague.  Meanwhile, The Tales of Doggie and Moggie (previously published in English as Harum Scarum), a book for children written and illustrated by Josef Čapek, is nowadays considered a classic of the Czech literature. The Insect Play, a symbolical drama that the two brothers wrote together in 1922, is still being produced in the theatre houses all over the world.

            Both brothers were known for their strong commitment in fighting the fascism, which by the end of the 1930s had begun to directly threaten freedom in their country. When in 1939 Czechoslovakia was finally taken over by the Nazi troops, one of the first trips of the arresting officers was to the door of the Čapek brothers‘ residence. They walked away with only one prisoner however, as the younger brother Karel had died several months earlier. Josef Čapek very nearly saw the end of the war, but sadly when the Allied Armies had freed the prisoners in the Begren-Belsen concentration camp on the 15th April 1945, he was not among them. According to the witnesses, Čapek was still alive several days before, but apparently had died, either of typhus or pneumonia, shortly before their arrival. His body was never identified…

R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) & THE ROBBER: 
Two Plays by Karel Čapek
a new English translation
Translated from the Czech, edited and introduced by   Voyen Koreis

Both books are now available from Booksplendour
To order the books (AUD 24.95 each or $45.00 for both, including postage within Australia) e-mail us here

The Tales of Doggie and Moggie by
written and illustrated by Josef Čapek
Translated from the Czech by   Voyen Koreis

Karel Capek as a Robot: Caricature by his brother, Josef Capek

Karel Čapek as a Robot (caricature by Josef Čapek)

Karel Čapek: A Self-caricature

Karel Čapek: A Self-caricature

Josef Čapek - A self-caricature with Doggie and Moggie

Josef Čapek: A Self-caricature with Doggie and Moggie

The play has not only made Karel Čapek internationally famous; it has also made him in a certain sense immortal, because of the word “Robot”, which appears in the subtitle and throughout this stage play.

Particularly in its dramatic concluding parts, R.U.R comes closer to the Gothic horror than to science fiction, which in the author’s days was still known as Utopia. As does the next generation of writers in this genre, which  includes for instance George Orwell, Aldous Huxley and some others, Čapek uses the utopian theme mainly to aid his literary aims and to make commentaries on the state of society, which has not changed much since his days. This is why this author’s work is still very much alive, even in the 21st century. The Robots’ revolt and its consequences could for instance be interpreted as a warning against giving scientists a free hand in pursuit of genetic research. The R.U.R. managers and scientists at every opportunity stress that their noble aims are designed to benefit mankind, but one feels that somewhere down the line perhaps there might be a heavy price to pay.

The Robber moves between romantic comedy and tragedy, with a pinch of melodrama or even farce thrown in here and there. Some passages are in verse. Čapek began to work on it in 1911, when he was only twenty-one, and he returned to the theme again by the time he was nearing thirty.

Though certainly less successful internationally, the play has proven a big hit with the Czech audiences. Nearly a hundred years after Čapek had begun to work on the first version, a year would hardly roll by without at least one important Czech theatre company coming up with a new production. Čapek himself thought of the Robber as his only “true Czech play”, and apparently he valued it more than his other, technically more advanced and on the world stage certainly more successful plays.

The Tales of Doggie and Moggie

In this book there are nine adventure stories about a little dog and a cat, with illustrations by author. 82 pages - for children of primary school age (approx. 6-9 years):
Doggie and Moggie: How They Washed the Floor; How Doggie Tore His Trousers; What Happened at Christmas; How They Wrote a Letter to the Girls in Newcastle; The Proud Nightie; The Boys From Ipswich; How Doggie and Moggie Made a Birthday Cake; How They Found a Doll That Cried Very Softly; How They Played Theatre & About Father Christmas ..

... There was a time when Doggie and Moggie had lived together; they had their own little cottage on the edge of the forest, where they resided, and they wanted to do everything the way the grown-up people do. But they couldn’t always manage to do this, because they have only small and clumsy paws, and on these paws they have no fingers like people have, only those little pads and on them the claws. So they couldn’t do things like people do, and they never went to school either, because school isn’t for little animals, of course it isn’t ...