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Glass! Love!! Perpetual Motion!!!

A Paul Scheerbart Reader

German writer, critic, and theorist Paul Scheerbart (1863–1915) died nearly a century ago, but his influence is still being felt today. Considered by some a mad eccentric and by others a visionary political thinker in his own time, he is now experiencing a revival thanks to a new generation of scholars who are rightfully situating him in the modernist pantheon.

Glass! Love!! Perpetual Motion!!! is the first collection of Scheerbart’s multifarious writings to be published in English. In addition to a selection of his fantastical short stories, it includes the influential architectural manifesto Glass Architecture and his literary tour-de-force Perpetual Motion: The Story of an Invention. The latter, written in the guise of a scientific work (complete with technical diagrams), was taken as such when first published but in reality is a fiction—albeit one with an important message. Glass! Love!! Perpetual Motion!!! is richly illustrated with period material, much of it never before reproduced, including a selection of artwork by Paul Scheerbart himself. Accompanying this original material is a selection of essays by scholars, novelists, and filmmakers commissioned for this publication to illuminate Scheerbart’s importance, then and now, in the worlds of art, architecture, and culture.
Coedited by artist Josiah McElheny and Christine Burgin, with new artwork created for this publication by McElheny, Glass! Love!! Perpetual Motion!!! is a long-overdue monument to a modern master.

320 pages | 64 color plates, 48 line drawings | 7 x 10 | © 2014

Architecture: Architecture--Criticism

Art: Art--General Studies

History: European History

Literature and Literary Criticism: Germanic Languages

Media Studies


“This latest installment in the ongoing English-language discovery of Scheerbart (1863–1915) is well worth purchasing for its reissue of Glass Architecture above all but also for its enthusiastic celebration of this quirky, still-surprising author. . . . Recommended."


“I was delighted to discover . . . the first English language compendium of Scheerbart’s work. . . . Scheerbart is well worth discovering—or rediscovering—not just because he was uncannily prescient, but because his good-natured manifestos are so at odds with those of his more famous contemporaries. Ornament in Scheerbart’s universe is never a crime. Machines are objects of fascination, but we don’t have to live in them. And most of the world’s problems can be solved simply by building walls of multicolored glass.” 

Karrie Jacobs | Architect

“There’s really only one poet of architecture, and that’s Paul Scheerbart. . . . Glass! Love!! Perpetual Motion!!! is a curious hybrid of ideas, idealism, and passion, shining an overdue spotlight on a singular artistic voice.”

San Francisco Book Review

“Scheerbart’s glass is iridescent, coloured, shaped; glass mosaic, glass prisms, ‘glass hair’, designed not to reflect, or to see through, but to create complex kaleidoscopic effects. The uses Scheerbart wants it put to are even more improbable and utopian, and phrased in his delightfully modest, gently insistent style. . . . Josiah McElheny’s contemporary glass artworks, spread across the text, give much more of a sense of what Scheerbart expected from the glass world.”


“‘Colored glass destroys all hatred at last.’ I want to think about this sentence—and Scheerbart—forever. Scheerbart invents possibility.”

Lynne Tillman, author of What Would Lynne Tillman Do?

“Rarely are the obscure so richly resurrected as Scheerbart is in this dense, absorb­ing volume. While preserving his crystalline quirkiness it lays bare for the first time the nexus of dazzling visions, timely theories, and compulsive conjecturing that made him a singular figure in his own day and a beacon in ours . . .”

Lynne Cooke, 2012–2014 Andrew W. Mellon Professor, CASVA, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

“An exciting and novel project that will encourage renewed attention to the beguil­ing and fantastical work of Paul Scheerbart, an indispensable figure for under­standing the long heritage of our technologically permeated present.”

Sean Keller, Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture

Table of Contents

Scheerbart, The Unknowable
Josiah McElheny and Christine Burgin

The Crystal Vision of Paul Scheerbart: A Brief Biography
Christopher Turner


Glass Architecture, 1914
Paul Scheerbart | Translated by James Palmes
Illustrated by Josiah McElheny

Glass Houses: Bruno Taut’s Glass Palace at the Cologne Werkbund Exhibition, 1914.
Paul Scheerbart | Translated by Anne Posten

Glass House: Cologne Werkbund Exhibition, 1914
Bruno Taut | Translated by Anne Posten

Scheerbart, Taut, and the Glass House
Noam M. Elcott

Glass Architecture, 1921
Bruno Taut | Translated by Anne Posten

Fragments of Utopia: Paul Scheerbart and Bruno Taut
Rosemarie Haag Bletter

Glass House Letters, 1920
Paul Scheerbart | Translated by Anne Posten and Laura Lindgren
Selected and introduced by Bruno Taut
Untimely Meditations and Other Modernisms: On the Glass-Dream Visions of Bruno Taut and Paul Scheerbart
Hollyamber Kennedy

A Strange Bird: Paul Scheerbart, or The Eccentricities of a Nightingale
Gary Indiana

Selected Short Stories, 1897–1912
Paul Scheerbart | Translated by Susan Bernofsky and Anne Posten
Illustrated by Paul Scheerbart
A Trial in the Year 1901: A Novelette of the Future
The Colored Moons: A Cosmosophical Scherzo 
The Love of Souls: A Spiritualistic Scene from a Novel
Atlas, the Comfortable: A Myth of Humanity
The Magnetic Mirror
Transportable Cities
The Glass Theater
An Ornament Museum
The Silent Dance of Courtly Society
The Safe: A Marriage Novelette
At the Glass Exhibition in Peking: The Old Baron’s Diary Entries


Perpetual Motion: The Story of an Invention, 1910
Paul Scheerbart | Translated by Susan Bernofsky
Illustrated by Paul Scheerbart and Josiah McElheny

Perpetual Motion: A Summary, 1910
Paul Scheerbart

The Invention: A Cinematic Tale
Guy Maddin

Scheerbart’s Fiftieth Birthday Party: An Interview with Egidio Marzona
Hubertus von Amelunxen | Translated by Anne Posten

On the Birth, Death and Rebirth of Dionysus: A Memorial Wreath for Paul Scheerbart’s Grave, 1919
Anselm Ruest | Translated by Anne Posten

A Letter from Bruno Taut to His Brother Max, 1915
Translated by Anne Posten

“... variants of the seemingly imperfect...”:
Thoughts on Paul Scheerbart and Walter Benjamin
Hubertus von Amelunxen | Translated by Anne Posten

The Gallery of the Beyond, 1907
Text and images by Paul Scheerbart | Translated by Anne Posten


Novels and Novelettes, Rhetorical Essays, and Prophetic Howls: A Bibliographic Poem
Josiah McElheny


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