Thursday, January 26, 2012

Weird Tales from Austria and Bohemia

Max Brod
Author, Composer, Journalist
Born May 27, 1884, Prague, Austria-Hungary (now Czech Republic)
Died December 20, 1968, Tel Aviv, Israel

For Weird Tales
"Death Is a Temporary Indisposition" (Translated by Roy Temple House, Apr. 1938)

Max Brod was born on May 27, 1884, in Prague, then a city in Austria-Hungary, now capital of the Czech Republic. Though an accomplished author in his own right, Brod is most well known as the executor of Franz Kafka's literary estate and the man who did an inestimable service to world culture by saving Kafka's papers from the incinerator. Kafka (1883-1924), Brod's friend and an author himself of more than one weird tale, had stipulated that Brod burn his papers upon his death. Instead Brod preserved them, and--in 1939, as the Nazis completed their takeover of Prague--spirited them away to Palestine. Those papers have been subject of a recent lawsuit over their ownership. Kafka may have made something of that.

A fervent Zionist, Brod remained in Palestine and--after 1948--the state of Israel until his death in Tel Aviv on December 20, 1968, a decisive year in the history of his country. His one story for Weird Tales was "Death Is a Temporary Indisposition," translated by the American linguist and teacher, Roy Temple House. The story appeared in the April 1938 issue of the magazine, the same month in which Hitler made his initial demands on Czechoslovakia, demands that would culminate in appeasement, annexation, and finally war.

Ernst Wurm
Author and Artist
Born June 30, 1906, Katzeldorf, Lower Austria
Died September 30, 1971, Vienna Neustadt, Lower Austria

For Weird Tales
"Gica Lacilu, the Magician" (Aug. 1937)

Ernst Wurm was an Austrian author and artist, born in Katzeldorf on June 30, 1906. Wurm worked for the ORF (Austrian Radio Broadcast) in 1933. His story "Gica Lacilu, the Magician" was printed in Weird Tales in August 1937, only a few months before the Anschluss. Wurm died on September 30, 1971, in his homeland. I'm afraid I know nothing more about him.

The title page of Max Brod’s Život Plný Boju designed by Jaroslav Šváb in 1966.
Text and captions copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

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