translated by Cathy Porter and Peter Majer
‘The Makropulos Case (1922) [is] a tragic-comic fantasy about ageing and human mortality. There are many inspirations for this marvellous play: the Russian zoologist Professor Mechnikov’s tehories about the ageing process as a self-intoxication of the organis; Shaw’s Back to Methusaleh; the immortal monsters of Frankenstein and Dracula; the French philosopher Henri Bergson, and his explorations of free will and temporality.’ So say the translators of The Makropulos Case, Peter Majer and Cathy Porter, in their introduction to the anthology in which this translation was first published.
The Makropulos Case is an enduring story of the invention of a potion that will give its consumer eternal life. In typical Čapek style though, the elixir proves to be the undoing of those surrounding it, as the prospect of unlimited life reduces them to greed, secrecy and litigation.
The Makropolus Case was first performed in Prague in 1922.