paul-scheerbart

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Some of Alfred Kubin’s drawings for the 1st edition of Lesabendio: An Asteroid Novel

Lesabendio: An Asteroid Novel was written by Paul Scheerbart and published originally in 1913.  The new edition translated by Christina Svendsen and published by Wakefield Press is very much worth checking out.  "An intergalactic utopian novel that describes life on the planetoid Pallas, where rubbery suction-footed life forms with telescopic eyes smoke bubble-weed in mushroom meadows under violet skies and green stars…Scheerbart’s cosmic ecological fable was admired by such architects as Bruno Taut and Walter Gropius and by such thinkers as Walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem…“

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Paul Scheerbart, Les Fleurs de Verre, Éditions B2.
120 pages, 100 × 150 mm.
Octobre 2015 • ISBN : 978-2-36509-050-6

Le 18 novembre 1905, plusieurs années avant
de visiter l’Exposition de Verre de Pékin, le Baron
de Münchhausen et sa compagne, Clarissa von
Rabenstein, se rendent, au Japon, à la résidence
du Ministre Mikamura.
S’ensuit alors la description du domaine australien
de William Weller. À l’issue d'un parcours initiatique
ponctué de cristallines compositions florales,
l’hôte mène son visiteur à travers une succession
d’espaces décoratifs et joaillers.
Mort il y a exactement un siècle, auteur d’Architecture
de verre
(1914), Paul Scheerbart (1863-1915)
est un écrivain allemand méconnu – pourtant
à la confluence de nombreux courants littéraires
et artistiques. Véritable curiosité architecturale,
sa nouvelle Les Fleurs de verre (1909) restait inédite
en français.

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The Victorian Fantasy Author and Illustrator Ahead of his Time

Paul Karl Wilhelm Scheerbart (1863 – 1915) born in Danzig, Berlin was a German author of fantasy literature and an amazing illustrator. 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. Whereas most people thought Scheerbart eccentric, it’s more likely that he was just ahead of his time and, therefore, misunderstood. He composed aphoristic poems about glass for the Taut’s Glass Pavilion at the Werkbund Exhibition in 1914. He decided to starve himself (to death, some say) instead of living through WWI. “I became a humorist out of rage, not kindness.”

If we wish to raise our culture to a higher level, we are forced for better or for worse, to transform our architecture. We shall only succeed in doing this when we remove the element of enclosure from the rooms in which we live. We can only do this, however, with glass architecture, which allows the light of the sun, moon and stars to enter not merely through a few windows set in the wall, but through as many walls as possible - walls of coloured glass. The new milieu created in this way must bring us a new culture…Then we should have a paradise on earth…
—  Paul Scheerbart, Glasarchitektur (Glass Architecture) 1914

A storm is whirling through the land.
The trees break, the roof tiles fly away with the flower-pots, people’s hats and the fluttering crows, far off - into the open country.
And it is hailing and raining.
The rain tastes as cool and pleasant as the hailstones.
There is something strange about this hail and rain.
The professors drive up to the town hall in their finest coaches and hold long discussions; all the professors have hailstones in their hands, some also have bottles filled with the new rainwater.
The professor’s discussions are excellent, and all the while it is raining and hailing, stronger and stronger outside.
And the storm wails - wails.
The clever professors explain that it is not ordinary hail - neither is it ordinary rain.
And they take a taste of the hailstones and drink the rainwater.
And they say, there is a new substance contained in them - a comet must have exploded in the sky - it definitely must have been a comet.
The new substance is Comet Salt.
But it has such an odd effect.
Whoever tastes the new salt feels a weakness which permeates every limb, and their thoughts become so simple.
The comet salt is seductive as alcohol.
But the comet salt does not burn the back of the mouth, nor, in the body below, does it stimulate - it makes one satisfied - quiet.
Soon the people with salt in their stomachs can no longer collect their thoughts. For them it is as if everything has gone. And then they remain there standing and go no further, their limbs become stiff and hard as wood, the upheld arm will not go down again; the hand which had raised a hat in greeting remains holding the hat in the air.
Gradually the storm dies away and the weather improves once more.
But for the first time, in the bright sunshine, one can see the extent of the matter.
Ten wet soldiers are standing bolt upright on one leg on the parade ground, the raised legs will not go back down. A baker’s wife gives one of the soldiers a shove in the side and all ten of them fall like wooden soldiers from a toy-box.
The air is quiet once more.
And the people lick the comet salt which covers the ground in heaps. The animals lick the comet salt as well.
And one by one all the people and animals, in the streets and in their homes, remain standing, sitting or lying in strange positions.
The dogs’ mouths stay open.
The birds turn head over heels in the air and fall with stiffened wings on to the piles of salt, and move no more.
A funeral procession stands in front of the church and can go no further.
The trees become just as stiff. The weeping willows and the weeping birches freeze in the positions they have been blown into by the wind - branches blow out wide - as if a great storm were raging.
And the air is so still.
And the people and animals are also so still, as if they no longer know what to say.
A policeman sits unmoving on a bench beside a tramp - looking unceasingly at one another.

From the short story Cascading Comets by Paul Scheerbart, 1902.

Hafentraum, ein Gedicht von Paul Scheerbart

Mein Lieblingsgedicht habe ich in dieser Version kennen- und auswendig gelernt. Es stand in der Tageszeitung als ‘Gedicht des Tages’. Mir gefiel in der 2.Strophe das 'dich’, das wirkt ein wenig mehr surreal und konkretisiert die Probleme, die die tausend Schafe darstellen. Aber auch die 1. und 3. Zeile der 1. Strophe passen besser, als in der Originalversion, auch der Anzahl der Silben wegen. Ok, ist halt meine Meinung. Ich hab’ mich halt verliebt in diese falsche Version.

Hier das Original:

Hafentraum von Paul Scheerbart


Ich hab in dieser ganzen Nacht
Still wie ein Stall geschlafen.
Ich hab in dieser ganzen Nacht
Geträumt von tausend Schafen.

Sie waren alle dick und rund,
Ich aber war nicht ganz gesund,
Ich kam allmählich auf den Hund;
Es war in einem Hafen.

In diesem Hafen trank ich viel
Mit großen Welt-Matrosen,
Die spielten Handharmonika
Und mit den tausend Schafen.