Die Sonne war ein grünes Ei (H.C. Artmann)

Die Sonne war ein grünes Ei. Von der Erschaffung der Welt und ihren Dingen is a collection of fairy tales/myths by H.C. Artmann. The title literally means: The sun was a green egg. Of the creation of the world and its things.
Finished on 5.9.2016

The creation of the world as you’ve never seen it before: Maybe the sun really is an egg. Maybe Coffee Mill and Paper Kite are responsible for the creation of living things. Or maybe it was a magician and false prophet. Or…

Artmann created some very fantastic (in the literal sense) and weird stories, but in some ways they are more of the same old, same old – especially with regards to sexism. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading the collection for the most part.


Structually, Die Sonne war ein grünes Ei is interesting: it kept me wondering the whole time whether it was to be read as a more or less single story of the creation of the world or whether it was a collection of different myths. There are some characters and things that keep returning, but then there are also things that are obviously at odds with each other, if not outright contradictory. On the one hand, this invites a close reading to figure out all the particulars, on the other hand it is true for most religious or mythological bodies that there are several authors and takes on stories, and that they’re often less coherent in the (more or less important) details than you’d expect. There are also surprisingly many things that remain unexplained for a mythology that wants to explain how everything came to be.

It’s a profoundly strange take on what was in the beginning – strange in the sense of entirely different from what we are used to. One of the most striking examples are Coffee Mill and Paper Kite: they become producers instead of products in Artmann’s texts.

Unfortunately the strangeness in some places just makes the familiarity in other places stand out that much more. When the text once more divides everything in male and female, and often in rather traditional variations of them, it was a bit like a slap in the face. Especially since there is no better opportunity than when rewriting the creation of the entire world to make room for other than the usual two genders and sexes. But I guess that was not to be expected from an almost 35 year old book by a man.

Despite this, the weirdness of the ideas and Artmann’s lyrical prose do make it worth it to read the book and see the world and how it could have been through new eyes.

Summarizing: I don’t think there’s a translation of this available, but if you read German, check it out.

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