London: Oxford University Press, 1923. 1st English Language Edition. FIRST PRINTING, 1st EDITION OF THE 1st ENGLISH EDITION of a Science Fiction classic and THE FIRST USE OF THE WORD “ROBOT.” The R.U.R. of the title stands for Rossum’s Universal Robots. It is interesting to note that “The first recorded human death by robot occurred Jan. 25, 1979: the 58th anniversary of the play's premiere” (Long, “Jan. 25, 1921: Robots First Czech In, Wired, 1.25.11).
Written by Karel apek, a seven-time nominee for the Nobel Prize in Literature, this play was first performed in 1921 in Prague. Since that time it has been translated and performed through the world, resonating as much then as it does now. “The word robot which Josef apek [Carel’s brother] coined for the play, is based on the Czech word for ‘forced labor,' ‘robota’” (Lewis, Utopian Literature, pp. 38-9). Beginning in 1923 and with this publication, the word ‘robot’ entered the English language; it has since become part of most modern languages.
In the play, “an industrial powerhouse uses a chemical substitute for protoplasm to manufacture living, simplified people called “robots.” When it introduced the word “robot,” a word that has become a part of most modern languages” (Chalakowki, Vintage News, R.U.R, June 2, 2017). “The robots in “R.U.R.” were not mechanical, as we see in modern science fiction; they actually weren’t all that different from us. They were humans, biologically speaking, created to do work for the other “real” humans… Built exactly like humans from flesh and blood, they were much closer to our modern idea of clones. They were specifically designed to fulfill human needs and perform tasks that people didn’t want to do” (ibid).
“Many of [ apek’s] works “are centered on the industrial inventions that emerged in the first half of the 20th century. By exploring numerous aspects, he managed to raise serious questions about mass production, nuclear weapons, and artificial intelligence… apek was a rational being above else, so his writings addressed concerns of social disasters, dictatorship, militarism, violence, and unlimited power of corporations. He highlighted human stupidity and greed as the irrational culprits for these social problems” (Chalakowki).
NOTE: This adaptation differs from that of the 1923 Doubleday printing. Also, the cast list of the first 1st British performance in London appears on the verso of the title-page and has been pasted over by a blank sheet of paper. This was done by the publishers for copyright reasons and it was done to all copies of the first printing. Item #1265
CONDITION & DETAILS: London. Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press, 1923. Small octavo (8vo), pp. [1-5], 6-102, [103 ads], 104 blank. The name of the previous owner appears on the title page. Bound in black printed card wrappers with red lettering. Very minor fading at the edges of the wrappers and the front wrap is just beginning to loosen slightly. Bright and very clean throughout. Very good condition.