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Black–White–Red: Grotesques


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Published by:
Wakefield Press
Translated by:
W. C. Bamberger
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Mynona's self-styled "grotesques" inhabit an uncertain ground between fairy tale, fetishism and philosophy, satirizing everything from nationalism to philanthropy

First published in German in 1916, Black-White-Red collects six bizarre tales by the "laughing philosopher" Salomo Friedlaender, who wrote his literary work under the pseudonym Mynona (the reversed German word for "anonymous"). In this collection, we encounter a tongue-in-cheek showdown between Goethe and Newton, whose theories of color clash in the form of a nationalistic flag; another story presents the inventor of the tactilestylus setting out to capture the residual sound waves of Goethe speaking in his study through a mechanical recreation of his vocal apparatus, with its amplification set to infinite. In "The Magic Egg," one of Mynona's most emblematic and curious tales, a man encounters an enormous bisecting mechanical egg in the middle of the desert that houses a mummy and a possible pathway to utopia on Earth.
Mynona, aka Salomo Friedlaender (1871-1946), was a perfectly functioning split personality: a serious philosopher by day (author of Friedrich Nietzsche: An Intellectual Biography and Kant for Kids) and a literary absurdist by night, who composed black humored tales he called "grotesques." He inhabited the margins of German Expressionism and Dada, and his friends and fans included Martin Buber, Walter Benjamin and Karl Kraus.