Believe in People

From The Telegraph:

Book One of the many pleasures of reading Believe in People, a collection of Capek’s journalism and letters translated here for the first time, is to gain the acquaintance of a sensibility as universal and relevant as Kafka’s, and yet bracingly unfamiliar. As John Carey suggests in his excellent preface: “There is no English writer like him”. Here’s how the inventor of the word “robot” typically saw things: “Sometimes it can make your hair stand on end to see what can raise a laugh.” “Imagine the silence if people said only what they know!” “Only little people fight for prestige; great people have it.” A freer spirit than the Catholic writer G K Chesterton, whom he met on a visit to London in 1924, and more optimistic than George Orwell, Capek closer resembles a Czech Montaigne. “I like scepticism as inordinately as enthusiasm,” he writes playfully. “I take care to learn from anything that I stumble on.”

The son of a country doctor, Capek viewed himself as a physician who helps others, but with words. “In my own way I also try to do doctoring.” In the daily practice of journalism, he spins unfading pieces out of the important issues of the day and also out of ephemera. Flowers, dogs, cats – “because they truly exist” – are no less worthy of his curiosity than New Year’s resolutions or toothache; or, come to that, “the fanatical dopiness of our times”. What his critics describe as relativism, he prefers to call “an anxious attentiveness to everything that exists”.

More here.