Entry updated 4 September 2018. Tagged: Author.
(1892-1972) Czech government official and author whose literary career began after active service during World War One in the Austria-Hungary army on the Russian front, where he was captured and became a prisoner of war; his wartime experiences dominate his first books. Weiss is of sf interest initially for Dům o 1000 patrech (1929; trans Alexandra Büchler as The House of a Thousand Floors 2014), an allegory-tinted novel whose protagonist, suffering from Amnesia, awakens into a surreally depicted technolatrous Dystopia dominated by the eponymous tower; his mission – for which a mysterious agency has granted him a month's Invisibility – is to progress upwards, storey by storey, examining the micro-worlds housed at various levels en route, until he finds the totalitarian ruler of this land, and kills him. The tale is told within a dream-frame, a device whose tiresomeness may have impeded its translation until recently, though Weiss generates a sense of vertiginous ambivalence about its use here. A later pre-War tale, Spáč ve zvěrokruhu ["The Sleeper in the Zodiac"] (1937), describes the life of a schoolteacher whose metabolism shifts with the seasons.
After World War Two, Weiss remained for a while a prominent Czech literary figure, publishing several volumes of sf stories (not translated into English) before silenced by quasi-official disapproval in 1964. [JC]
born Jilemnice, Austria-Hungary [now Czech Republic]: 10 May 1892
died Prague, Czechoslovakia [now Czech Republic]: 7 March 1972
- Dům o 1000 patrech ["The Thousand-Storey House"] (Prague, Czechoslovakia: Melantrich, 1929) [binding unknown/]
- The House of a Thousand Floors (Budapest, Hungary: Central European University Press, 2014) [trans by Alexandra Büchler of the above: pb/]
- Spáč ve zvěrokruhu ["The Sleeper in the Zodiac"] (Prague, Czechoslovakia: Evropský literarní klub, 1937) [binding unknown/]
- Družice a hvězdoplavci ["Satellites and Star-Sailors"] (Prague, Czechoslovakia: Československý spisovatal, 1960) [coll: binding unknown/]
- Hadani o budoucím ["Guessing about the Future"] (Prague, Czechoslovakia: Československý spisovatal, 1963) [coll: binding unknown/]
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