Monthly Archives: December 2012

Illustrations for An Asteroid Novel

Alfred Kubin’s illustrations for Paul Scheerbart’s Lesabéndio: An Asteroid Novel (1913)

“Slowly, Lesabéndio floated into the depths, with his suction-foot still tucked behind his head.”Posted to coincide with Matthew Jakubowski’s profile of Paul Scheerbart on my other blog Writers No One Reads.
The scans in this post came from archive.org, though note that the new English translation of Lesabéndio includes much better reproductions.
For more of Alfred Kubin’s work from this time, check out my posts on Der Orchideengarten. (These yellow-with-age illustrations in fact make me nostalgic for the weeks in 2009 I spent scanning the Orchid Garden.)
Wakefield Press copy for their edition:First published in German in 1913 and widely considered to be Paul Scheerbart’s masterpiece, Lesabéndio is 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. Amid the conveyor-belt highways and lighthouses weaving together the mountains and valleys, a visionary named Lesabéndio hatches a plan to build a 44-mile-high tower and employ architecture to connect the two halves of their double star. A cosmic ecological fable, Scheerbart’s novel was admired by such architects as Bruno Taut and Walter Gropius, and such thinkers as Walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem (whose wedding present to Benjamin was a copy of Lesabéndio). Benjamin had intended to devote the concluding section of his lost manuscript The True Politician to a discussion of the positive political possibilities embedded in Scheerbart’s “Asteroid Novel.” As translator Christina Svendsen writes in her introduction, “Lesabéndio helps us imagine an ecological politics more daring than the conservative politics of preservation, even as it reminds us that we are part of a larger galactic set of interrelationships.” (more…)