The text, originally a newspaper article published in the 1920’s, focuses on the ambiguity of small objects. Čapek metaphorically touches upon some icons of Czech mentality. It is not by chance that one of the leading catchwords of the Czech National Revival is referred to as “what is Czech is small and what is small is beautiful”. The theme of an enclosed space that guarantees the idyllic life is strikingly present in Božena Němcová’s Babička(Grandmother)(1855). Paying attention to the small things means for Čapek a return to the childhood with its idyllic atmosphere.
The author, however, may not be mentioning only the positive features associated with smallness. What does Čapek suggest? What are the possible consequences of “thinking small”?
The entire essay reflects the way in which the orientation of the newly established Czech and Slovak national state was debated in the 1920’s. These debates would offer metaphorical solutions claiming the role of Czechoslovakia as a bridge between East and West: as a privileged locus (both culturally and geographically) that brings out the good from both sides and yet constitutes an enclosed space with a system of its own. Criticism of such a view can be found in Čapek’s later writings. See the story “Šlépěje” (Footprints) from this anthology.