Georg Letham: Physician And Murderer by Ernst WeissGeorg Letham: Physician And Murderer by Ernst Weiss

Georg Letham: Physician And Murderer

byErnst WeissTranslated byJoel Rotenberg

Paperback | January 29, 2010

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First published in 1931 and now appearing for the first time in English, Georg Letham: Physician and Murderer is a disquieting anatomy of a deviant mind in the tradition of Crime and Punishment. Letham, the treacherously unreliable narrator, is a depraved bacteriologist whose murder of his wife is, characteristically, both instinctual and premeditated. Convicted and exiled, he attempts to atone for his crimes through science, conceiving of the book we are reading as an empirical report on himself—whose ultimate purpose may be to substitute for a conscience. Yet Letham can neither understand nor master himself. His crimes are crimes of passion, and his passions remain more or less untouched by his reason—in fact they are constantly intruding on his "report," rigorous as it is intended to be. Both feverish and chilling, Georg Letham explores the limits of reason and the tensions between objectivity and subjectivity. Moving from an unnamed Central European city to arctic ice floes to a tropical island prison, this layered novel—with its often grotesquely comic tone and arresting images—invites us into the darkest chambers of the human psyche.
Ernst Weiss, born in 1882 in Bruunn, Moravia in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was a trained physician. His years as a ship’s doctor are apparent in much of the detail in Georg Letham. Weiss’ work emerges from an expressionist background but belongs with the modernist classics. Joel Rotenberg translated Chess Story and The Post-Office Gi...
Title:Georg Letham: Physician And MurdererFormat:PaperbackDimensions:560 pages, 7.01 × 5.9 × 1.36 inPublished:January 29, 2010Publisher:Steerforth PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0980033039

ISBN - 13:9780980033038

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Read from the Book

How could I, Georg Letham, a physician, a man of scientific training, of certain philosophical aspirations, let myself be so far carried away as to commit an offense of the gravest sort, the murder of my wife? And to commit this crime chiefly for financial reasons? Or so it would appear to the outsider. For money was in fact the one thing I could never get from that woman, who was doglike in her attachment to me. Am I revil- ing her with this word "doglike"? No. I am only attempting to explain, and so far I have not succeeded. There is a gaping internal contradic- tion here, and yet that is how it was.

Editorial Reviews

I wonder why Weiss isn’t better known here. A doctor as well as a writer, he knew about the body as well as the heart, and you can trust him when he describes how each can act on the other. —The Guardian A compelling, creepy read. — Monica Carter, Three PercentErnst Weiss is in fact one of the few writers who may justly be compared to Franz Kafka . . . This is easily one of the most interesting books I have come across in years . . . One is filled with impressions, stimulated, gripped by images, characters, and episodes that are strangely real but also unforgettably fashioned. And, incidentally, it’s all very Austrian. —Thomas Mann What an extraordinary writer he is! —Franz Kafka If one could write a book about the internal feelings of Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, or any other man who brings nightmares to life – this would be it. —Zahar Laor, Vivid. . . . [With] the thrill of intellectual obsession. . . . Weiss's novels are remarkable for their ambitious conceits, stylistic variation, and unusual characters. . . . He uncovers the fear, apathy, longing and rage for which the now clichéd psychoanalytic terms were invented. —The Nation Part medical detective story and part criminal confession. . . . the story addresses . . . justice, punishment, altruism, the fear of illness, the joy of recovery, the ecstasy of being alive, and the absolute worth of a single human life. . . . From a literary standpoint, readers can expect a sizeable reward. —Journal of the American Medical Association What makes Georg Letham so fascinating is not that he is a murderer, but that he knows this and is still plagued with a compulsion to contribute to humanity . . . He kills for money, but when stripped of the need for money and forced to live, he becomes more of a human being. —Salonica