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Weiss, Ernst

WEISS, ERNST

WEISS, ERNST (1884–1940), Austrian novelist. Born in Bruen, Weiss studied medicine and traveled to the Orient as a ship's doctor. During World War i he served as a medical officer in the Austrian army on the eastern front. After achieving some success as a playwright, he devoted himself to literature, working in Berlin and Munich. A pupil of *Freud and a friend of *Kafka, *Werfel, and *Brod, Weiss was a master of the psychological novel. His basic theme is strife between individuals – son against father, husband against wife, lover against beloved. The heroes are often physicians.

His novels include Der Kampf (1916), Tiere in Ketten (1918), Nahar (1922), Georg Letham, Arzt und Moerder (1931), and Boëtius von Orlamuende (1928). He also wrote a successful drama, Tanja (1920); Das Versoehnungsfest (1920), a verse collection; and several volumes of short stories. During the Third Reich, Weiss fled from Vienna to Prague, and from Prague to Paris. Two of his last novels were Der Gefaengnisarzt oder Die Vaterlosen (1934) and Der Verfuehrer (1938). When the Nazis entered Paris, the embittered and lonely writer committed suicide. Der Augenzeuge (1963), a posthumous novel, describes the ordeal of a Jewish physician whose ex-patient, an unbeloved World War i soldier, becomes the Fuehrer of the Third Reich. In 1982 an edition of selected works appeared in 16 volumes, edited by P. Engel and Volker Michels.

bibliography:

W. Bedel, Sieben Dichter (1950), 102–7; F. Lennartz, Die Dichter Unserer Zeit (19525), 544–6. add. bibliography: M. Wollheim, Begegnung mit Ernst Weiß. Paris 19391940 (1970); U. Längle, Ernst Weiß. Vatermythos und Zeitkritik. Die Exilromane am Beispiel des "Armen Verschwenders" (1981); M. Versari, Ernst Weiß. Individualität zwischen Vernunft und Irrationalismus. Ein Werk zwischen "Mythologie" und "Aufklärung" (1984); F. Haas, Der Dichter von der traurigen Gestalt: zu Leben und Werk von Ernst Weiß (1986); R. Mielke, Das Böse als Krankheit. Entwurf einer neuen Ethik im Werk von Ernst Weiß (1986); F. Trapp, "' Der Augenzeuge'ein Psychogramm der deutschen Intellektuellen zwischen 1914 und 1936" (1986); S. Adler, Vom "Roman expérimental" zur Problematik des wissenschaftlichen Experiments. Untersuchungen zum literarischen Werk von Ernst Weiß (1990); M. Streuter, Das Medizinische im Werk von Ernst Weiss (1990); P. Engel and H.-H. Müller (eds.), Ernst Weiß. Seelenanalytiker und Erzähler von europäischem Rang, Beiträge zum Ersten Internationalen Ernst-Weiß-Symposium aus Anlaß d. 50. Todestages, Hamburg 1990 (1992): M. Pazi, Ernst Weiß. Schicksal und Werk eines jüdischen mitteleuropäischen Autors in der ersten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts (1993); A. Steinke, Ontologie der Lieblosigkeit. Untersuchungen zum Verhältnis von Mann und Frau in der frühen Prosa von Ernst Weiß (1994); K.-P. Hinze, "Ernst Weiss," in: D.G. Daviau (ed. and introd.), Major Figures of Austrian Literature (1995), 487–519; E. Krückeberg, "Jeder ist ein Stück Hamlet: Ernst Weiß' Roman 'Georg Letham' und der Hamlet der Dreißiger Jahre," in: H. Arntzen (ed.), Ursprung der Ge genwart (1995), 364–418; J. Golec, "Prag – Berlin – Paris. Ernst Weiß' Lebensstationen auf der Suche nach der Identität," in: M. Katarzyna Lasatowicz and J. Joachimsthaler (ed.), Nationale Identität aus germanistischer Perspektive (1998), 133–41; H.-H. Müller, "'Das Klarste ist das Gesetz. Es sagt sich nicht in Worten.' Ernst Weiß' Roman 'Die Feuerprobe'. Eine Interpretation im Kontext von Weiß' Kritik an Kafkas 'Proceß'," in: Euphorion, 92 (1998), 1–23; H. Berke, "Wer sagt hier 'Ich'? Zur Rollenambivalenz in 'Der Verführer' von Ernst Weiß," in: M. Godé and M. Vuillaume (eds.), Qui parle dans le texte? Études réunies (2000), 169–76; T. Taterka, "'Wir dürfen nicht nachlassen, solange wir atmen' Literarische Augenzeugenschaft und Widerstandswille bei Ernst Weiß," in: F.L. Kroll (ed.), Deutsche Autoren des Ostens als Gegner und Opfer des Nationalsozialismus, (2000), 203–218; Y.P. Alefeld, "Macht und Ohnmacht. Zu den 'Arztromanen' von Ernst Weiß," in: M. Zybura (ed.), Geist und Macht (2002), 203–16.

[Sol Liptzin]

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