Paul Scheerbart

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Paul Scheerbart.

Paul Karl Wilhelm Scheerbart (8 January 1863 in Danzig – 15 October 1915 in Berlin) was a German author of fantastic literature and drawings. He was also published under the pseudonym Kuno Küfer and is best known for the book Glasarchitektur (1914).

Scheerbart was associated with expressionist architecture and one of its leading proponents, Bruno Taut. He composed aphoristic poems about glass for the Taut's Glass Pavilion at the Werkbund Exhibition (1914).

Life[edit]

Paul Scheerbart began studies of philosophy and history of art in 1885. In 1887 he worked as a poet in Berlin and tried to invent Perpetual motion machines. In 1892 he was one of the joint founders of the Verlag deutscher Phantasten (Publishers of German Fantasists).

At this time he was in financial difficulties. After writing in different publications he produced his first novel 'Die große Revolution' (The Great Revolution), which was published by the Insel-Verlag. The young Ernst Rowohlt published Scheerbart's bizarre poem collection Katerpoesie and became his friend.

Scheerbart's fantasty essays about glass architecture influenced architects at that time, including the young Bruno Taut. Among his Berlin friends and drinking circle was Erich Mühsam, who dedicated a chapter to Scheerbart in his 'Unpolitical Memories' and Richard Dehmel. Scheerbart was also an important influence on Walter Benjamin who quoted his ideas on glass in his Arcades Project.

Work[edit]

"Scheerbart published a long succession of fantasy novels, articles, and poems between 1889 and his death in 1915, in which he insisted that the universe is far too rich and complex to be comprehended by reason alone. Only naive wonder — the basis of the sublime — could promote the development of higher forms of understanding."[1]

Very few of Scheerbart's works have been translated into English. Though the following list also gives English translations of the titles, there is usually no English-language edition of the work available.

  • 1889 Das Paradies. Die Heimat der Kunst (Paradise. Home of the Arts)
  • 1893 Ja... was... möchten wir nicht Alles!, (Yes.....What......We wouldn't all like to have!), A Fable
  • 1897 Ich liebe Dich!, (I love you!), A Novel with 66 Intermezzos
  • 1897 Tarub, Bagdads berühmte Köchin, (Tarub, Baghdad's famous female cook), Arab culture novel
  • 1897 Der Tod der Barmekiden, (The death of the Barmakids), Arab Harem novel
  • 1898 Na prost!, (Well, Cheers!), Fantasy King novel
  • 1900 Die wilde Jagd, (The wild hunt), A development novel in eight stories
  • 1901 Rakkóx der Billionär, (Rakkóx the trillionaire), An ostentatious novel
  • 1901 Die Seeschlange (The Sea Serpent), A sea novel
  • 1902 Die große Revolution, (The Great Revolution), A moon novel
  • 1902 Immer mutig!, (Always courageously!), A Fantasy novel
  • 1902 Liwûna und Kaidôh, A Soul novel
  • 1902 Weltglanz, (World Shine), a sun fairy tale
  • 1903 Kometentanz, (Comet dance), Astral Pantomime in two acts
  • 1903 Der Aufgang zur Sonne, (The stairway to the sun), house fairy tales
  • 1904 Der Kaiser von Utopia, (The emperor of Utopia), a folktale
  • 1904 Machtspäße, (Jests about power), Arab novellas
  • 1904 Revolutionäre Theater-Bibliothek, (Revolutionary theatre library), collection of plays
  • 1906 Münchhausen und Clarissa, Berlin novel
  • 1909 Die Entwicklung des Luftmilitarismus und die Auflösung der europäischen Land-Heere, Festungen und Seeflotten, (The development of air militarism and the dissolution of the European Land-army, fortresses and sea-fleets)
  • 1909 Kater-Poesie, (translatable as Tomcat poetry or Hangover poetry), poems
  • 1910 Das Perpetuum mobile, Die Geschichte einer Erfindung, (The perpetual motion machine, the history of an invention)
  • 1912 Das große Licht, (The Great Light) A MünchhausenBreviary
  • 1912 Flora Mohr, A glass flower novella
  • 1913 Lesabéndio, an Asteroid novel
  • 1914 Das graue Tuch und zehn Prozent Weiß, (The grey cloth and ten percent of white), a ladies novel. Translated into English as: The Gray Cloth: Paul Scheerbart's Novel on Glass Architecture. Cambridge, Massachusetts ; London, England : MIT Press, 2001. ISBN 0-262-19460-0
  • 1914 Glasarchitektur (Glass architecture)
  • 1921 Von Zimmer zu Zimmer, (From room to room), letters to his wife

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Iain Boyd White, "The Expressionist Sublime", in Benson et al., p. 126.

References[edit]

  • Josiah McElheny: The Light Club: On Paul Scheerbart's The Light Club of Batavia. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-226-38941-7
  • Timothy Benson et al.: Expressionist Utopias. Berkeley, University of California Press, 2001. ISBN 0-520-23003-5
  • (German) Mechthild Rausch: Von Danzig ins Weltall. Paul Scheerbarts Anfangsjahre (1863–1895). München: Ed. Text und Kritik 1997. ISBN 3-88377-549-5
  • (German) Uli Kohnle: Paul Scheerbart. Eine Bibliographie. Bellheim: Edition Phantasia 1994. ISBN 3-924959-92-7
  • Rosemarie Bletter: "Paul Scheerbart's Architectural Fantasies," Journal of Architectural Historians 34 (May 1975).
  • (German) Paul Kaltefleiter, Berni Lörwald und Michael M. Schardt (Hrsg.): Über Paul Scheerbart. 100 Jahre Scheerbart-Rezeption. 3 Bände. Paderborn: Igel-Verlag 1998. ISBN 3-927104-23-X (Band 1); ISBN 3-927104-88-4 (Band 2); ISBN 3-89621-055-6 (Band 3).

External links[edit]