Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots)
R.U.R. (Rosumovi Umělí Roboti) (Rossum's Artificial Robots, but usually translated as R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) to preserve the acronym) is a science fiction play by Karel Čapek. It premiered in Prague in 1921. It was translated from the Czech into English by Paul Selver, and adapted for the English stage by Nigel Playfair in 1923. Basil Dean produced it in April of 1923 for the Reandean company at St Martin's Theatre , London.
It popularized the word robot, which displaced older words such as "automaton" or "android" in languages around the world. In its original Czech, robota means drudgery or servitude. The name Rossum is an allusion to the Czech word rozum, meaning "reason", intellect. (It has been suggested that the allusion might be preserved by translating "Rossum" as "Reasson", but all published translations to date have left the name untouched.)
After having finished the manuscript, Čapek realized that he had created a modern version of the old Golem Legend.
A more modern 1990 translation in English is available in Towards the Radical Center: A Karel Čapek Reader, published by Catbird Press .
In February 1938, a thirty-five minute adaptation of a section of the play was broadcast on BBC Television - the first piece of television science-fiction ever to be produced. In 1948 another adaptation, this time of the entire play and running to ninety minutes, was screened by the BBC, and in between in 1941 BBC radio had also produced a version. Sadly, none of these three productions survive in the BBC's archives.
Plot and Characters
Parenthesis indicate differences in translations.
- Harry Domin (Domain) - General Manager, R.U.R.
- Fabry - Chief Engineer, R.U.R.
- Dr. Gall - Head of the Physiological Dept, R.U.R.
- Dr. Hellman (Hallemeier) - Psychologist-in-Chief
- Jacob Berman - Managing Director, R.U.R.
- Alquist - Clerk of the Works, R.U.R.
- Helena Glory - president of the Humanity League, daughter of President Glory
- Emma (Nana)- Helena's maid
Robots and Robotesses [sic]
- General information on the play, including a plot summary and photographs from various historical productions
- R. U. R. in Czech from Project Gutenberg
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