Leo Perutz(Leopold Perutz)

Leo Perutz, writer
The author Leo Perutz, presumably in the 1950s, photographer unknown, undated
Deutsches Exilarchiv 1933-1945 der Deutschen Nationalbibliothek, estate of Leo Perutz, EB 86/094

Leo Perutz(Leopold Perutz)

Bestselling author in Vienna, almost forgotten in Tel Aviv

Ich habe keinen Gusto auf Scholet und keine Lust Ivrisch [!] zu lernen. Da gehe ich lieber in Europa zugrunde.

[I don’t like Scholet and I can’t be bothered learning Ivrisch [!]. I would rather perish in Europe. (ed. trans.)]

Diary entry by Leo Perutz on 13 September 1937

Bornon 2 November 1882 in Prague, Czechoslovakia
Diedon 25 August 1957 in Bad Ischl, Austria
ExilePalestine, Israel

Leo Perutz was one of the most popular German-language novelists in the period between the World Wars and already published his first literary works while still a trainee actuary. His circle of friends in Vienna included Franz Werfel, Alfred Polgar, Richard A. Bermann and Rudolf Olden. Perutz’ extensive oeuvre covers novels, novellas, short stories, plays, travel reports and dramas.

Although he was sceptical about emigrating to Palestine at first, as a Jew he was forced to go there following the annexation of Austria and emigrated there via Italy in July 1938. However, he was never to gain literary recognition in his country of refuge for the rest of his life. He found it hard at times to motivate himself to write at all and his financial situation improved only after he accepted a job as an actuary in an insurance company after the end of the War.

Leo Perutz remained a German-language writer even in Israel and secretly hoped that he would gain recognition again among a German-speaking readership. In a letter to his brother Paul on 14 May 1945, he asked his sibling to tell him honestly whether there was a chance that his books might be published in the new Germany in 1946. He also expressed worries that Germany would now consist of nothing but allotment owners and expressed doubt about whether publishers, journals or film companies, even if they did still exist, would still know his name.

From 1950, Perutz spent the summer and autumn months in Austria and rekindled his old connections, sometimes even with acquaintances who had supported the Nazis. He became an Austrian citizen again in 1952, but never returned for good.

Selected works:
Die dritte Kugel (novel, 1915)
From Nine to Nine (orig.: Zwischen neun und neun, novel, 1918)
The Marquis of Bolibar (novel, orig.: Der Marques de Bolibar, novel, 1920)
The Master of the Day of Judgmenet (novel, orig.: Der Meister des Jüngsten Tages, novel, 1923)
Turlupin (novel, orig.: Turlupin, novel, 1924)
Little Apple (orig.: Wohin rollst Du Äpfelchen, novel, 1928)
By Night under the Stone Bridge (orig.: Nachts unter der steinernen Brücke, 1953; begun in 1924 with the working title Meisls Gut, novel )

Further reading:
Leo Perutz 1982-1957. Eine Ausstellung der Deutschen Bibliothek, Frankfurt am Main, Wien/Darmstadt: Paul Zsolnay 1989
Hans Harald Müller: Leo Perutz. Biographie. Wien: Paul Zsolnay 2007