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Hordubal; Meteor; An Ordinary Life Signed by Karel Capek first editions 1934-36

Hordubal; Meteor; An Ordinary Life Signed by Karel Capek first editions 1934-36


ČAPEK, Karel; [M and R WEATHERALL, Trans.]

Hordubal; Meteor; An Ordinary Life.

London: George Allen & Unwin, 1934-6


3 vols, 8vo.; green and pale blue cloth, Vol I blocked in blind to upper board, lettered in gilt along spine, upper edge stained green; Vol II blocked in vibrant orange with an aeroplane design dissecting diagonally across the upper board; and vertically along spine; Vol III lettered in red to upper board and spine; all in the original unclipped dust jackets (7s. 6d. net), Vols II and III with particularly striking dust jackets by Kirby; pp. [xi], 12-249, [iii, ads]; [v], 10-255, [i]; [vii], 8-245, [vii, ads] a very good set, unusual complete thus, with sporadic foxing throughout, splashmark to the upper edge of Vol I, rubbing and light sunning to edges of cloth and along spine; the jackets, nicked, rubbed and spotted, particularly to the lower panel of Vol I and the upper of Vol III; some larger chips and portions of loss to Vols II and III, with corresponding internal tape repair to both; Vol III a little more browned and spotted than the others. Provenance: Book Plate of Václav Palivec

 to the front paste-down of Vol II. 


A complete set of the first edition in English, inscribed in volume II by the author to his housemate and friend Václav Palivec, dated 1936. 


Palivec was related to Čapek by means of his sister’s husband - he was the brother of the groom - and, when Čapek himself married in 1935, Palivec’s gift to the newlyweds was a house in Stará Hut, situated to the south of Prague, which he declared was to be for their lifetime use. It was there that Čapek was living when he first began to write the second and third volumes of this trilogy. The house has now become a national museum. 


Together, Hordubal, Meteor and An Ordinary Life create a loose trilogy. The first volume was originally published in 1933, and is based on a true account originally published in the newspaper Lidove noviny , of which Čapek was a regular contributor. Written in a rhythmic style particularly hard to translate into English, one reviewer claims that the translators succeed in “captur[ing] Juraj Hordubal’s colloquial and uneducated speech . . . they find the appropriate language and stylistic register for the straight detective story and the courtroom drama following the novel’s events." Volume 2 of the set follows a nurse, a clairvoyant and a poet as they navigate the aftermath of a plane crash, while An Ordinary Life focuses on a station master who decides to write an autobiography and discovers dark truths along the way. With macabre and moral themes throughout, the works together are known as his ‘noetic novels’ - being, in many ways, an attempt to discover the truth in human experience.  


A complete set of this wonderful trilogy, Volumes 2 and 3 in the particularly striking dust jackets. 

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