Nine Fairy Tales by Karel Capek: And One More Thrown in for Good Measure

Northwestern University Press $0 (252p) ISBN 978-0-8101-0864-6
True to its name, this 1932 collection by the Czech author of War with the Newts is crowded with sprites, fairies and others of that insubstantial ilk. Genuine fantasy results, however, when they cross paths with stubbornly human types in such sweetly absurd scenes as when a policeman serves notice to a dragon (``Hello there . . . mind showing me your papers? Do you have an ID? A gun permit? A library card?'') or a bevy of doctors diagnoses a magician gagging on a plum pit (variously acute prunitis, choking plumitis, stonepititis of the pharynx and prunoplumryx stonepititis). The author's brother contributes illustrations and one tale ``for good measure,'' adding his gentle mark to a mix that smacks of Wilde, in the beatific magician of ``The Great Cat's Tale''; of Gogol, in the incorrigible hat of ``The Tramp's Tale''; of Kipling throughout; and, above all, of Capek's own animism, endowing cat, mailman, hydra, American detective and frog with good, jovial souls. (June)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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