PRESENTATION COPY

Meteor … Translated by M. and R. Weatherall.

London, George Allen & Unwin, [1935].

8vo, pp. [4], [9]–255, [1]; a very good copy in the original publisher’s decorated cloth, with the original illustrated dust-jacket, edges chipped, lower panel a little soiled; Palivec’s bookplate to front pastedown.

£1500

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First edition in English of Povětroň [Meteor] (1934), with a signed presentation inscription from Čapek to Václav Palivec on half-title, dated 1936. In 1935, Palivec, the brother of Čapek’s sister’s husband, gave Čapek and his new wife as a wedding present the use of a house in Stará Huť, near Dobříš, just south of Prague. The next three years (the last) of Čapek’s life were spent improving the house and garden, and he wrote a number of works there. The house, ‘Strž’, is now a memorial–museum.

This is the second part of what is generally regarded as Čapek’s masterpiece: a loose trilogy of novels – Hordubal (1933), Povětroň, and Obyčejný život (An Ordinary Life; both 1934) – which discusses moral questions. René Wellek writes: ‘Meteor, on the whole, seems to be the most original, the most poetical of Čapek’s many novels. Here, for once in a way, the exact phantasy of the poet is at work, much more so than in the pseudo-scientific romances’ (Essays on Czech Literature, p. 60).

‘An aeroplane crashes in flames. The pilot is killed, and the passenger shockingly burned, internally injured, and 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. So through their imaginations we learn the whole story’ (jacket blurb).

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