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Apocryphal Stories

Apocryphal Stories

(1949)
A collection of stories by

 
Publisher's Weekly
Each time a devoted reader approaches a newly published book by Capek (War with the Newts) it is with some trepidation. Is this the book that will show the Czech writer (1890-1938) to have had weaknesses, redundancies? If there is such a book, this isn't it. A page of one-line fables and a handful of short, lovely "Would-Be Tales" aside, the bulk of this volume is in the "Apocryphal Tales." Written over the course of 18 years, these parables and allegories use historical and legendary figures such as Hamlet, Napoleon and Don Juan to comment on current events or the general state of humanity. "The Death of Archimedes" and "Alexander the Great," written in the year preceding the Munich Pact, take a mordant look at political necessity used as a justification for conquest. Most often, Capek's stories plead for a forgiving humanity against inflexible idealism, whether on the part of individuals or governments. In the funny and very touching "The Ten Righteous," he takes his argument for leniency to God. Here, Sarah and Abraham, speaking in good pseudo-scriptural prose, try to compile a list of 10 righteous people who could redeem Sodom and Gomorrah: "Then spake Sarah, saying: 'What do you have against Namuel? True, he's stupid, but he's pious.'" They can't, of course, find the requisite number of righteous, leaving Sarah to plead with her husband to go back to God and ask for mercy. Well-structured and concise, these little nuggets combine broad learning with sharp wit to make powerful moral statements.

Library Journal
To expect the unexpected is sound advice for readers of the late Czech writer, especially in the collection of stories at hand. As in his delightful Tales from Two Pockets (LJ 6/1/94), Capek deals with the twin challenges of truth and justice. But while those stories were in the form of detective fiction, in these Capek draws upon events and characters from history, myth, religion, and literature, approaching familiar scenarios from new, imaginative perspectives, e.g., How did Jesus' famous miracle of the loaves and fishes affect local businessmen? Did Don Juan deserve his evil reputation? How did it feel to be in Pontius Pilate's sandals? In each tale, Capek, master of human psychology, demonstrates anew that times may change but human nature remains constant. Also included are the "Would-Be-Tales," charming narratives on the human condition, and a small selection of "Fables"wonderfully ironic observations on life. Comrada's contemporary American translation adds to the appeal of this thought-provoking collection which belongs in most libraries.Sister M. Anna Falbo, Villa Maria Coll. Lib., Buffalo, N.Y.

Kirkus Reviews
Apocryphal Tales ( paperback original; June 15, 1997; 199 pp.; 0-945774-34-6): Though not enough readers in the English-speaking world know it, the great Czech writer (18901938) rivals D.H. Lawrence and even arguably Chekhov for the amount of work of sustained excellence produced during a tragically brief lifetime. The present volume, an expanded edition (and new translation) of a book first published posthumously in 1945, adds a smattering of "Fables" and "Would-Be Tales" to the irreverently amusing title pieces, which offer ostensible "untold stories" about celebrated figures from Greek and Roman history and myth, the Bible, and Shakespeare. Alexander the Great's pragmatic rejection of his old tutor Aristotle's reverence for "reason and logic" and an outraged baker's complaint about Jesus' miracle of the loaves and fishes are only two of the deadpan surprises to be found in an unfailingly delightful book.

 
Used availability for Karel Capek's Apocryphal Stories


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Paperback Editions

April 1997 : USA Paperback
Title: Apocryphal Tales
Author(s): Karel Capek
ISBN: 0-945774-34-6 / 978-0-945774-34-1 (USA edition)
Publisher: Catbird Press
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

April 1975 : UK Paperback
Title: Apocryphal Stories (Modern Classics)
Author(s): Karel Capek
ISBN: 0-14-003860-4 / 978-0-14-003860-6 (UK edition)
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   

Kindle Editions

April 1997 : USA, Canada Kindle edition
Title: Apocryphal Tales: With a Selection of Fables and Would-be Tales
Author(s): Karel Capek
Publisher: Catbird Press
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA   

April 1997 : USA, Canada Kindle edition
Title: Apocryphal Tales: With a Selection of Fables and Would-be Tales
Author(s): Karel Capek
Publisher: Catbird Press
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA   



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