War with the Newts
This is a darkly humorous commentary on the cruelty and venality of man, the folly of exploitation, and the seeds of conflict. As Europe moved ever closer to the Second World War, the allegory within War With the Newts was proved savagely right.
War with the Newts (1936) is Karel Capek’s darkly humorous allegory of early twentieth-century Czech politics. Captain van Toch discovers a colony of newts in Sumatra which can not only be taught to trade and use tools, but also to speak. As the rest of the world learns of the creatures and their wonderful capabilities, it is clear that this new species is ripe for exploitation – they can be traded in their thousands, will do the work no human wants to do, and can fight – but the humans have given no thought to the terrible consequences of their actions.