Set in the idyllic landscape of rural Bohemia in the 1930s, this is the tragic love story of Jarmila, the village beauty, and a toy maker who falls under her siren spell. The wife of the far older local feather-merchant, Jarmila enjoys all the pleasures her husband’s wealth can buy, yet still longs for true love which she hopes to find in her affair with the penniless toy-maker. When she conceives a child by him, he urges her to leave her husband for a life of love and freedom in New York. Guilt-ridden and suddenly facing a destitute life in a strange country, Jarmila refuses lo leave. Her devastated lover asks for one more meeting and tragedy ensues. The typescript of this novella was discovered recently at Prague University. Stefan Zweig, a friend of Ernst Weiss, believed it to be Weiss’ best work.
‘Weiss…displays here much of [Stefan Zweig’s] artful unity of purpose and economy of language.’&mdash Chris Power, The Times
Ernst Weisswas born in Brunn (now Brno) in 1884 in Bohemia. He worked as a doctor and served in World War I. In 1938, he emigrated to France, and committed suicide in 1940, the day the German troops entered Paris. Weiss’ novels show expressionistic and surrealist tendencies, often expressing violent perverted sexual impulses and marked by a deep pessimism, owing something to his friend Franz Kafka.