This short essay by Karel Čapek is written in the style of a dictionary entry in that it concisely explains each proverb and illustrates its usage in context. Čapek’s text, however, departs from this format in several ways. The opening definition is quite subjective and personal. All the proverbs are wrapped in a narrative that makes a complex story. In a dictionary a text illustrating each entry is presented in isolation; in Čapek‘s text, the examples are contrasted. Each item reacts the ideas expressed by the preceding item, offering an anti-thesis. The text demonstrates how folk wisdom represented by proverbs is not a random group of gnomic statements, but a coherent “story.” This approach naturally gives rise to yet another salient feature of the text: the final summary that all truths and values are relative.|
The essay contains frequently-used Czech proverbs. Some of them may be more bookish than others, exhibiting forms such as the infinitive suffix“-ti“ instead of the standard „-t“.