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Weiss, Jan

Entry updated 12 September 2022. 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]

Jan Weiss

born Jilemnice, Austria-Hungary [now Czech Republic]: 10 May 1892

died Prague, Czechoslovakia [now Czech Republic]: 7 March 1972

works (selected)

  • Dům o 1000 patrech ["The Thousand-Storey House"] (Prague, Czechoslovakia: Melantrich, 1929) [binding unknown/]
  • 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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