Paul Scheerbart.
Paul Scheerbart.

Paul Karl Wilhelm Scheerbart (8 January 1863 in Danzig – 15 October 1915 in Berlin) was a German author of speculative fiction 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

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 fantasy 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

Illustration from Jenseits-Galerie, 1907
Illustration from Jenseits-Galerie, 1907

"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.

Notes

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

References