Kafka Meets Monty Python

He was Central Europe's answer to Leonardo da Vinci, a genius who left his mark on virtually every area of culture. Jára Cimrman invented the electric light bulb, the telephone and dynamite, though these breakthroughs are often erroneously attributed to others. He was also an influential philosopher, perhaps best remembered for his theory of externalism, which states that "things are the exact opposite of what they are commonly regarded to be." And this month the Jára Cimrman Theater, a troupe founded to popularize the great 19th century Czech's work, celebrates its 35th anniversary.

Cimrman is, of...

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