The House of a Thousand Floors

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274 pages

The House of a Thousand Floors is one of the earliest science-fiction novels in European literature, published first in 1929. Besides being a pioneer in its genre, the book is highly regarded for its general merits as psychological literature.

The novel tells the story of a dream in fever of a soldier wounded in World War I. He finds himself in the stairway of a gigantic (and kafkaesque) tower-like building, which is a metaphor for modern society. He learns that his task is to rescue Princess Tamara from Muller, the lord of the edifice. After a number of surrealistic encounters in the building, during which he is hailed as a liberator by many and is hunted by the cruel security guards, the main character finds Tamara and faces the cruel lord of Mullerdom. 
The novel makes fine use of a range of experimental styles and techniques. At times, linear storytelling gives way to a collage of incongruous elements: excerpts from fictitious books, encyclopedia articles, radio broadcast transcripts are used as a shortcut to describe places or events; other narrative ingredients include fanciful advertisements, ludicrous administrative documents or political slogans which highlight the idiosyncrasies of this decadent world.


"Jan Weiss’s classic modernist novel, first published in 1929, has now been released in a splendid new translation by Alexandra Büchler. This excellent and readable translation of Weiss’s overlooked masterpiece will surely be welcomed by scholars of central European modernism and, more generally, Anglophone readers interested in deepening their knowledge of a rich culture that was swept away by world war and totalitarianism."