Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2022  Vol. 21  No. 2
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Russians at Large
from the Nevada State Journal, November 19, 1922

The Russian cult seems to have captured New York for the season and to such an extent that other and American plays are now being written for the purpose of ridiculing the invasion. Just now the east is talking about Capek’s “R. U. R.” play, otherwise known as “Rossom’s Universal Robots,” and his other distorted comedy of the insects.

The idea of the Robot play is that an inventor goes into the Frankenstein business on a wholesale scale  . . . Soon after he makes the dummies a little more like man and then they get together and wipe out the human race. One or two have developed enough to mate and increase their kind and the world begins its travail over again a la Adam and Eve.

The insect comedy is played by imitation bugs. The only human is a drunken peasant. The insects bicker and battle around just like folks and the assumption is that men are just as futile and hopelessly cast into just as useless and narrow a mould as some piffling grandaddy long-legs.

A long train of oppressions has cast the Russian mind in a morose channel. They drink vodka and anticipate remorse. The next day their anticipations are confirmed, so they drink some more. Their composers revel in the minor chords of misery. Their novelists enjoy nothing so much as despair and their playwrights are normal only when crazy.

It is not so bad in Russia, where there is no contrast, but for New York to get into the grasp of this sort of obsession is more and more an indictment of the evils of high-browism and hypodermic needles.  

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