Mynona’s other 1921 collection of grotesques is no less provocative and just as indefinable in nature—even close to a century after its original publication. These twelve off-kilter parabolic tales include items such as “The Chamber Pot as Lifesaver,” “The Art of Self-Embalming,” “The Maiden as Toothpowder,” “Your Panties Are Beautiful!” and “The Amorous Corpse.” E.T.A. Hoffmann meets Immanuel Kant through the unlikeliest of looking glasses as Mynona spins out quasi-mystical meetings between cosmic entities and drawing-room romantics: a starry-eyed Buster Keaton skirting along the philosophical and literary borders of topics such as cuckoldry, necrophilia, schizophrenia, the end of history and the love lives of objects. With its companion volume of grotesques, The Unruly Bridal Bed, these twelve tales poke more holes in the material world and further demonstrate Mynona’s predilection for the philosophical pratfall.
Mentioned in his day in the same breath as Kafka, Mynona, a.k.a. Salomo Friedlaender (1871–1946), was a perfectly functioning split personality: a 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 Grotesken. His friends and fans included Martin Buber, Walter Benjamin and Karl Kraus. He died in Paris, ill and in poverty, after Thomas Mann refused to help him emigrate to the United States.