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Josef Čapek (Czech pronunciation: [ˈjozɛf ˈtʃapɛk]; 23 March 1887 – April, 1945) was a Czech artist who was best known as a painter, but who was also noted as a writer and a poet. He invented the word robot, which was introduced into literature by his brother, Karel Čapek.
Čapek was born in Hronov, Bohemia (Austria-Hungary, later Czechoslovakia, now Czech Republic) in 1887. First a painter of the Cubist school, he later developed his own playful primitive style. He collaborated with his brother Karel on a number of plays and short stories; on his own, he wrote the utopian play Land of Many Names and several novels, as well as critical essays in which he argued for the art of the unconscious, of children, and of 'savages'. He was named by his brother as the true inventor of the term robot. As a cartoonist, he worked for Lidové Noviny, a newspaper based in Prague. Due to his critical attitude towards national socialism and Adolf Hitler, he was arrested after the German invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1939. He wrote Poems from a Concentration Camp in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where he died in 1945.
His illustrated stories about 'Pejsek a Kočička' ('Doggie and Pussycat') are considered classics of Czech children's literature.
Selection of his literary works
- Lelio, 1917
- Stín kapradiny, 1930, novel
- Kulhavý poutník, essays, 1936
- Land of Many Names
- Básně z koncentračního tabora (Poems from Concentration Camp), published posthumously 1946
- Adam Stvořitel (Adam the Creator) - with Karel Čapek
- Dášeňka, čili život štěněte (Dashenka, or the life of a Puppy) - with Karel Čapek, illustrated by Josef
- Ze života hmyzu (Pictures from the Insects' Life) 1921 - with Karel Capek
Čapek in popular culture
Čapek is a central character (along with his brother Karel) in David Herter's First Republic trilogy, comprising the novels On the Overgrown Path, The Luminous Depths and One Who Disappeared.
Čapek is a supporting character in the 2009 steampunk visual novel Shikkoku no Sharnoth.
The main character of indie computer game Machinarium, a robot named Josef, is named in honor of Čapek.