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Title: Restraining the Absolute: A Centennial Appraisal of the Tragic Experimentalism in Karel Čapek’s 1922 Fiction The Absolute at Large
Authors: Singha, Beetoshok
Keywords: Science Fiction
Clash of Morality
Issue Date: 27-Feb-2022
Publisher: Registrar, Vidyasagar University, Midnapore.
Series/Report no.: Journal of the Department of English. Vol. 15 2022;
Abstract: The year 1922 witnessed the emergence of various ground breaking trends in the spheres of fine arts and literature. In the wake of the horrible devastation and carnage in the First Great War a section of the litterateurs like Wilfred Owen or Rupert Brooke chose to pen the prevailing contradictory sentiments of either ‘No War’ or ‘Pax Britannica’ by means of general goodwill and military might respectively. But a small section of writers dreamt of, obviously in their own imaginary realm, abolishing the war from the world by means of some great man-made catastrophe. The most prominent name to come to the readers’ mind is that of H. G. Wells who in the novel The World Set Free (1914) actually made the catastrophe happen and seek the world leaders and the citizens a war free world. A still smaller section like St. John Greer Ervine sought to pit morality and the century old legacy of utilitarianism against the use of Ultimate Weapon in works like Progress (1931). The year 1922 also chronicled the debut of one such significant work of futurism — The Absolute at Large by the Czech writer Karel Čapek — which ultimately let the humanity prevail over the monstrous possession and chain production of weapons of mass destruction in the form of Absolute. The genius of Čapek lies in the fact that more than two decades before the first experimental atomic detonation in Los Alamos in 1945 he conceived of the annihilation of matter to produce abundant energy and reactor to facilitate and control the process. Čapek in this novel draws the readers’ attention towards the moral dilemma that the leaders felt after possessing this Absolute Weapon. The present world on account of the accumulation of enormous quantity of lethal weapons faces the same kind of crisis and the present global leaders should have the kind of foresight to avert the crisis. This is how Čapek’s novel, written in 1922 becomes eminently relevant in 2022.
ISSN: 0973-3671
Appears in Collections:Journal of the Department of English - Vol 15 [2022]

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