R. U. R. (Rossum's Universal Robots): A Play in Three Acts and an Epilogue
Place Published: London
Publisher: Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press
Date Published: 1923
Edition: First UK edition
Book Id: 37146
102pp. Duodecimo [17 cm] Black wrappers with red stamped titles to the front panel. Very good. Spine gently faded. Name in ink at the head of the title page. A blank label has been pasted over the cast list on the verso of the title page (we have noticed this on all of the copies we have handled).
First English printing of this play that popularized the word "Robot." Translated from the Czech by P. Selver and adapted for the English Stage by Nigel Playfair. According to Bleiler "the present-day reader's interest in the play centers on Capek's creation of the robot. Taken from the Czech word 'robota', meaning "forced labor," the word "robot" was invented by Josef Capek, and it has come to have a far more precise meaning than either brother can have intended. In the play the robots are not mechanical, metallic creatures, but are instead androids - living, organic simulacra - indistinguishable at first (and second) glance from humans. Capek's robots represent, at times rather loosely and inconsistently, a complex or symbolic meanings: the threatening aspects of the industrial dehumanization of the work force, as well as the pathos that surrounds the victims of rationalization and the assembly line. Through this ambivalence, which is not always convincing in its mixture of reductive caricature and sentimental special pleading, the image of the robot represents the logical outcome, for the helpless masses, of living and working in a world where human autonomy is not only superfluous but also directly counterproductive." Bleiler p.585