Customer Review

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And I stood upon the sand of the sea, 26 April 2005
This review is from: War with the Newts (Penguin Twentieth Century Classics) (Paperback)
and Saw a Beast Rise up Out of the Sea.
This apocalyptic vision is a fitting introduction to Karel Capek's masterpiece, War With the Newts.
The plot is straightforward. The master of a tramp steamer, Captain van Toch, comes across a rather curious breed of newts in an isolated lagoon near Sumatra. He discovers that they are intelligent and capable of communication. They lack, however, the ability to open easily oysters for food because of their short arms. He takes a knife and shows them how to use it. Next thing you know they have used his knife to open thousands of oysters, enough to provide the newts with food and the Captain with a large supply of pearls. Captain van Toch takes groups of newts and plants them in lagoons across the coastlines and lagoons of Asia. They are extraordinarily industrious. Before long newts become a worldwide rage. Every nation in the world uses newts to perform Herculean tasks of underwater and coastal development. The newts do not demand salaries. They merely ask for heavy equipment and munitions to facilitate these underwater projects. In short order the manufacture and supply of arms and equipment for newts becomes the single most important part of the world's economy.
Despite some increasingly violent skirmishes between newts and man no nation is willing to cease providing weapons to the newts. Before long the newts revolt, led by the Great Salamander (an apparent parody of Hitler), and announce that they will start destroying the earth, continent by continent in order to provide more coastline for the growing newt population. Despite this threat the nations of the earth continue to provide arms to the newts. The resultant battle is over quickly. Mountains are leveled, continents are turned into a series of islands and what is left of man finds its way to the Alps, or Rocky Mountains, or Himalayas.
As the story concludes, the author engages in a dialogue with himself and asks himself whether this is the end of man. After a great deal of soul searching he responds that perhaps the newts will take on all of the characteristics of the human race and find a way to destroy themselves. When that day occurs, perhaps humanity will recover what it gave away so readily.
War With the Newts is a fascinating book on many levels. The idea that the story is premised on the notion of concurrent evolutionary trends predates much landmark work that has been done since the book was written. It is also important to note that War With the Newts was written in 1936. The Nazis had obtained full control of Germany, Mussolini's fascists ruled Italy, and Stalin's purges were in full swing. Capek was devoted to the new Czech Republic and was an ardent proponent of the ideals of democracy. By 1936 the rest of Europe had already taken many strides down the road to appeasement. Capek's pessimistic vision of the fate of humanity is well grounded in contemporary events. War With the Newts may be viewed as much as a parable of contemporary events as a foretelling of a dark future. Finally, Capek is an excellent writer. His prose is full of wit and wry diversions. His chapter on the mating habits of the newts struck me as a classic parody of the human mating habits of his contemporary Aldous Huxley in Brave New World.
Almost seventy years after its publication the message of War With the Newts still resonates.
Capek's War With the Newts is a wonderful, thought provoking book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

4.3 out of 5 stars (18 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (11)
4 star:
 (4)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
Used & New from: £7.99
Add to wishlist
Reviewer


Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia

Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,691