LU News Archive

Pamela Saur publishes landmark work on Czech literary figure

Pamela Saur, regents’ professor of German in the Lamar University Department of English and Modern Languages, has published a landmark book on Czech literary master Ernst Weiss. Its title is “Ernst Weiss: Life, Works and Legacy of a Czech Literary Master and Friend of Franz Kafka, 1882-1940.”

“This is the first comprehensive assessment in English of the life and legacy of an important, underrated voice from mid-20th-century Central Europe,” according to the publisher, Academica Press.

Among her scholarly achievements, Saur has produced more than 100 publications. The Texas State University System honored her as a 2010 regents’ professor, the system’s highest faculty award.  Lamar has honored her as both university scholar and university professor. 

“For over 60 years, literary historians have worked to preserve and promote the writings of Jewish exile writers, like Ernst Weiss, and other victims of World War II and Nazi oppression,” Saur said. “I am proud to make this contribution to that effort. Weiss, like his famous friend Franz Kafka, was a German-speaking Czech-Austrian Jew.

“After the Nazi takeover of Germany and Austria, he lived several years in Paris until committing suicide when Nazi troops invaded the city. Although his career was cut brutally short, he left behind many fine plays, stories, essays and novels that have never had the readership they deserve. I hope this book will bring attention to his talent and importance.”

Experiences of 20th-century history and major literary trends are reflected in the excellent but little-known writings of the Austrian-Czech physician and novelist, the publisher said. Weiss was born in Moravia and studied medicine in Vienna and Prague.  He wrote one of the few novels about Adolph Hitler during the Fuehrer’s life, which, “using an eye doctor as narrator, was an experimental tour de force,” the publisher wrote.

His next novel, “Nahar,” about a female tiger who had once been human, is regarded as an Expressionist masterpiece.

“His fiction merges the influences of Expressionism, Surrealism, his own medical background, literary interactions with his friends Joseph Roth, Max Brod and Franz Kafka, as well as a Freudian emphasis on human drives, obsessions and compulsions,” the publisher wrote.

Information about ordering the book is available from Academica Press, Box 60728, Palo Alto, Calif., at (650) 329-0685 or