meteor putnam 1935 Meteor by Karel Capek. New York. 1935. Putnam. 256 pages. hardcover. Translated from the Czech by M. & R. Weatherall. 




   In a magnificent display of technical and intellectual brilliance, Karel Capek has produced not only an original, but also a moving and tender novel. An aeroplane crashes in flames. The pilot is killed, and the passenger, shockingly burned, internally injured, unidentifiable. The identity of the aeroplane is also a mystery, and after some days of unconsciousness the passenger dies - nameless and unknown. Three people - a nurse, a clairvoyant, and a poet - are so moved by his fate that each of them reconstructs one aspect of the circumstances that led him to such a terrible end. Through their imaginations we learn the whole story. The core of the narrative is psychologically sound. It is plausible and it is compelling. But there is an illusive beauty playing through the pages of METEOR, sensitive and delicate, casting a spell over the events - and over the reader. It will add many readers to Capek’s select but devotedly appreciative audience in this country. ‘Both the subject and technique of Karel Capek’s novel are refreshingly unusual. The book is impressive in its sheer candle power, its richness of suggestion and its deep psychological understanding.’ —Time and Tide (London). ‘With what a light touch, with what agility, Mr. Capek keeps us in touch with essentials! Imaginative in the best sense, compassionate and enjoying life’s many flavors, humorous, a little melancholy, he stands all by himself.’ - The Spectator (London).



Capek Karel Karel Capek (January 9, 1890 - December 25, 1938), Czech dramatist, novelist, and essayist, was born in 1890 in a small town in northern Bohemia. He studied at the University of Prague where he graduated as doctor of philosophy and then devoted himself to authorship. His literary reputation was established by his play R.U.R. (1920), which had an international vogue. In the following year came THE WORLD WE LIVE IN (the insect play), which was written in collaboration with his brother, Josef. The fantastic elements in these two plays are found also in the two novels which immediately followed them, ABSOLUTE AT LARGE (1923) and KRAKATIT (1924). Quite a different phase of his activity is seen in his LETTERS FROM ITALY (1924), a type of travel book which was repeated very successfully in LETTERS FROM ENGLAND’ (1924), LETTERS FROM SPAIN (1931), and LETTERS FROM HOLLAND (1933). His TALES FROM TWO POCKETS (1932) show him to be as skilful in handling realistic subject-matter as he was previously in the treatment of fantastic themes, and several of these tabloid detective stories are models of their kind. In general it may be said that Capek introduced a new spirit into Czech literature by blending a whimsical humour, derived at least in part from the study of English writers, with his native capacity for taking life seriously.


Zeno's Picks


The Neglected Books Page

20 September 2019

www.NeglectedBooks.com: Where forgotten books are remembered
  • Gaëtan, or The Stock-Taking, by Edith de Born (1950)

    “Gaëtan consists of a 100-page discussion between the wife and the mistress of a Frenchman who has been killed in a car accident,” wrote Julian Symons in his terse review of Edith de Born’s first novel. It’s an accurate description, but also a spoiler, for through much of the book, we only know we are... Read more

    The post ...

  • Chapters 1 and 2 from In Our Metropolis, by Phyllis Livingstone (1940)

    Back in March, I posted a short item about two forgotten novels I’d come across in an advertisement in the Times Literary Supplement. Neither received much attention and both quickly disappeared from sight. I was interested in knowing more about both books, so when I had the chance to visit the British Library for a... Read more


  • Businessmen as Lovers, by Rosemary Tonks (1969)

    Businessmen as Lovers was Rosemary Tonks’ fourth novel and, to be honest, the first in which she seems to relax and not be relentlessly straining to be clever. It’s her only novel not set in London: the whole story takes place on a train through France and an island off Italy, and perhaps the setting... Read more

    The post ...

  • Actors and Directors: Two Anecdotes from Letters from an Actor, by William Redfield (1967)

    Ralph Richardson and Basil Dean Some thirty years ago, Richardson was rehearsing a play directed by Basil Dean. The latter was the last of the old-time directors on the British side of the Atlantic. By “old-time,” I mean abusive, cruel, sarcastic, and contemptuous of actors. His American equivalent, albeit far younger, would be Jed Harris.... ...

  • Letters from an Actor, by William Redfield (1967)

    In 1964, Sir John Gielgud convinced Richard Burton to star in a Broadway production of Hamlet. Still smoking hot from his big-screen romance with Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra, Burton was looking to solidify his street cred as a serious actor after a few Hollywood duds. Gielgud’s motivation is a little less clear, as gradually becomes... Read more


  • The Long Sunday, by Peter Fletcher (1958)

    Church, prayer, going to Sunday services and weekday evening meetings remains the center of life for some families and communities. One hundred years ago, they were the frameworks of the rituals and values of many English people, particularly those of the class of shopkeepers and lesser professions. Each denomination and sect identified itself through its... Read

  • The Fire Escape, by Susan Kale (1960)

    The paperback editions of The Fire Escape trumpet its message: “The tragic, unvarnished story of a prostitute.” Which is a bit like plastering the banner line, “The Story of a Cockroach” across the cover of The Metamorphosis: yes, well, I guess you could say it is, but that’s actually missing the point in a pretty... Read more

    The post ...

  • Blitz Writing: Night Shift and It Was Different at the Time, by Inez Holden (2019)

    As a rule, I don’t cover in print books on this site: the fact that a book is in print is proof that it may be underappreciated, but it’s certainly not forgotten. However, I have to make an exception in the case of the Handheld Press’s recent release of two of Inez Holden’s three books... Read more


  • Journey Through a Lighted Room, by Margaret Parton (1973)

    I knew I was going to like Margaret Parton’s memoir, Journey Through a Lighted Room, on page two, when she writes of reflecting upon a Quaker meeting while “wandering aimlessly about the garden with a vodka and tonic in hand.” This is the story of a woman who wasn’t ashamed by the fact that she... Read more

    The post ...

  • The Mere Living, by B. Bergson Spiro (Betty Miller) (1933)

    Had The Mere Living not been largely forgotten by now, it would undoubtedly be saddled with an shakeable and unfavorable comparison to Virginia Wolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. For both are circadian novels (taking place within the space of a single day) set in London and both really heavily on the use of a stream of consciousness... Read more

    The post ...

Copyright © 2019 Zenosbooks. All Rights Reserved.
Joomla! is Free Software released under the GNU General Public License.