Wiener was born in Russia, of Polish-Jewish origin, and spent the early part of his childhood in Russia, before coming to the United States alone, with the purpose of creating a vegetarian commune in Belize. Then, after having travelled and worked around the country, he went to Kansas City, Missouri, and started working as a teacher.
He was a polyglot, and knew more than twenty languages.
Beginning in 1896, Wiener lectured on Slavic cultures at Harvard University and became the first American professor of Slavic literature. He translated 24 volumes of Leo Tolstoy's works into English. He taught George Rapall Noyes.
- French Words in Wolfram Von Eschenbach. 1893.
- Popular poetry of the Russian Jews. 1898.
- The history of Yiddish literature in the nineteenth century. 1899.
- The Ferrara Bible. 1900.
- Anthology of Russian Literature from the Earliest Period to the Present Time. 1902–1903.
- Gypsies as fortune-tellers and as blacksmiths. 1910.
- Philological fallacies: one in romance, another in Germanic. 1914.
- Commentary to the Germanic laws and mediaeval documents. 1915.
- An Interpretation of the Russian People. 1915.
- (translator) of Josef Svatopluk Machar's (1916). Magdalen.
- Contributions Toward a History of Arabico-Gothic Culture. 1917–1921.
- Africa and the discovery of America. 1922.
- The contemporary drama of Russia. 1924.
- The philological history of "tobacco" in America. 1925.
- Mayan and Mexican origins. 1926.