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Sklepy cynamonowe eBook –

The Street Of Crocodiles In The Polish City Of Drogobych Is A Street Of Memories And Dreams Where Recollections Of Bruno Schulz S Uncommon Boyhood And Of The Eerie Side Of His Merchant Family S Life Are Evoked In A Startling Blend Of The Real And The Fantastic Most Memorable And Most Chilling Is The Portrait Of The Author S Father, A Maddened Shopkeeper Who Imports Rare Birds Eggs To Hatch In His Attic, Who Believes Tailors Dummies Should Be Treated Like People, And Whose Obsessive Fear Of Cockroaches Causes Him To Resemble One Bruno Schulz, A Polish Jew Killed By The Nazis In , Is Considered By Many To Have Been The Leading Polish Writer Between The Two World WarsBruno Schulz S Untimely Death At The Hands Of A Nazi Stands As One Of The Great Losses To Modern Literature During His Lifetime, His Work Found Little Critical Regard, But Word Of His Remarkable Talents Gradually Won Him An International Readership This Volume Brings Together His Complete Fiction, Including Three Short Stories And His Final Surviving Work, Sanatorium Under The Sign Of The Hourglass Illustrated With Schulz S Original Drawings, This Edition Beautifully Showcases The Distinctive Surrealist Vision Of One Of The Twentieth Century S Most Gifted And Influential Writers

10 thoughts on “Sklepy cynamonowe

  1. says:

    They maintain that every woman in that district is a tart In fact, it is enough to stare at any of them, and at once you meet an insistent clinging look which freezes you with the certainty of fulfillment Even the schoolgirls wear their hair ribbons in a characteristic way and walk on their slim legs with a peculiar step, an impure expression in their eyes that foreshadows their future corruption Schulz sketchThere is a sexual madness bubbling in the corners of every scene in this collection Desire is wrapped around the words of the text squeezing them tight, producing extended breasts, hips, and flared stocking clad legs The young lad, who is our narrator, is of age to be beset by those hormones that make every female seem like the personification of Aphrodite Even the glimpse of an elbow or a soft white neck or a foot can give a young man flutters in his stomach She then moved her chair forward and, without getting up from it, lifted her dress to reveal her foot tightly covered in black silk, and then stretched out stiffly like a serpent s head His father was a merchant and quite insane Shulz shares with us the slow degradation of his father s mind as fears overcome reason He lay on the floor naked, stained with black totem spots, the lines of his ribs heavily outlined, the fantastic structure of his anatomy visible through the skin he lay on his face, in the grip of the obsession of loathing which dragged him into the abyss of its complex paths He moved with the many limbed, complicated movements of a strange ritual in which I recognized with horror an imitation of the ceremonial crawl of a cockroach If this were a Greek play, cockroaches would be the chorus Schulz self portrait.Schulz s had a deep command of language He used archaic words and put sentences together in ways I ve never experienced before All the stories are connected but disjointed, and Schulz would often spin this reader off into the snow, leaving me spitting slivers of ice from my mouth I always ran after the sled and climbed back on to watch with slitted eyes for low hanging tree limbs to duck and to be prepared to pull my snagged coat loose from the dead, brittle bushes overhanging the road We walked alongside the hairy rim of darkness, brushing against the furry bushes, their lower branches snapping under our feet in the bright night, in a false milky brightness The diffuse whiteness of light filtered by the snow, by the pale air, by the milky space, was like the gray paper of an engraving on which the thick bushes corresponded to the deep black lines of the decoration I could share so many instances of superb, unusual writing that make the head soar with the headiness of the visions he created, but I do have to let you experience most of them in the course of reading the stories for yourself Bruno Schulz was a Polish Jew from Drohobycz and, unfortunately, was caught up in the events of WW2 He was moved into a ghetto He was discovered by an admirer of his writing, a Nazi Gestapo officer named Felix Landau He was commissioned by Landau, in exchange for protection, to paint a mural on a wall of his residency in Drohobycz Schulz had it better than most, but fate is a fickle wench, and on November 19th, 1942, he was gunned down while walking home with a loaf of bread by another Gestapo officer, Karl Gunther, who was enraged that Landau had shot and killed one of his personal Jews What a gift to humanity it would have been if the Nazi officers had just had the decency to shoot each other The mural was covered over and wasn t rediscovered until 2001 A piece of the mural.This collection is just a glimpse of the body of work that we would have enjoyed from this talented writer if his life had not been tragically cut short He was working on a novel at the time of his murder, but it has never surfaced There is always hope that someday it will been found People compare Schulz to Kafka and other writers who push the boundaries of reality, but to me he isn t like those other writers He was a new star with his own unique spectrum who became a supernova before he had a chance to shine across the universe If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at

  2. says:

    A strange, uneven book of fiction, but one that is oddly compelling It is somewhat like magic realism, but primeval and mythic than the dark fairy tales of Marquez It is a little like Kafka too, but much energetic, teeming with life If Egon Schiele wrote fiction, it might be something like this.

  3. says:

    Before Bruno Schulz was shot in the street in one of the many actions of Nazi Terror in 1942, he was a unique human being with a beautiful sense of humour and a lightness that makes one feel sad Before Bruno Schulz fell victim to the absurdity of fascist hatred, he was a writer of seemingly endless imagination, who could find magic in the smallest of circumstances and even let a Tailor s Dummy have its rights.Before Bruno Schulz lost his life and most of his writing to the worst criminal reign in European history, he filled pages with sparkling life, and sent them in envelopes to be received by his ONE FIRST READER.Before Bruno Schulz became one of the few known victims of the Nazis who stand as symbols for all those countless common people with equal rights to remembrance and love who were wiped out without a trace left, he was a master of village life description.The terror of tickling is vivid in the book that preceded the terror of mass murder.Imagine a world in which tickling is still a threat Imagine a world in which people can still live their boring lives in small towns without worrying that the big hatred may strike with the power of empathy free psychopathy turned epidemic.Imagine the world of The Street Of Crocodiles still intact in our hearts Imagine For imagination and empathy are siblings that need to go hand in hand in our absurd world.To Bruno Schulz, lest we forget The Demiurge, said my father, has had no monopoly of creation, for creation is the privilege of all spirits Destruction is for those whose only privilege is that they have a weapon in their hand and jealousy in their hearts, but no imaginative power of their own to create a world for themselves Thus the urge to destroy others.

  4. says:

    There Is No Dead MatterNo one knows how to distinguish living from non living matter At the boundary between them the A level 7 Characteristics of Life break down Viruses, some organic chemical compounds, prions, perhaps some bacteria, among other things don t fit neatly into the biological vs merely material categorisation We are accustomed to thinking in Darwinian terms Mind, we presume, emerges in an evolutionary process from matter But the 19th century American philosopher C S Peirce audaciously suggested that we have it the wrong way round For Peirce, matter is a degraded, and therefore a potentially upgradable, form of mind or spirit Spirit and matter transform mutually into each other they are alternative forms of that which is The 17th century Dutch philosopher, Baruch Spinoza, would have felt comfortable with Peirce in his intimations of a world imbued with the divine.Bruno Schulz likely never heard of Peirce, but he would have known about Spinoza in his Galician Jewish community and he certainly subscribed to Peirce s philosophy There is no dead matter lifelessness is only a disguise behind which hide unknown forms of life, one of Schultz s characters announces It is not just life which is deserving of respect in The Street of Crocodiles but literally everything that exists, all matter sentient or inert Both these forms are temporary each is necessary for the other, and for the emergence of new forms which are at any moment inconceivable Such unexpected forms are nonetheless inherent in the infinite possibilities in matter This attitude has profound consequences Nothing, for example, is undeserving of one s attention Importance does not lie in magnitude or mass but in delicate, not necessarily conventionally beautiful, form The creeping dementia of one s parent, for example, is such a form, as it literally transforms its victim from an urban shopkeeper into, temporarily at least, an Old Testament prophet He was like a magic mill, into the hoppers of which the bran of empty hours was poured, to re emerge flowering in all the colours and scents of Oriental spices This is remarkably similar to the ethos espoused by Peirce What is man What a strange union of matter and mind A machine for converting material into spiritual force So too, for Schulz, a retarded village orphan, a puppy, a familiar building, a ghoulish tramp, or a deadly boring winter s day can be appreciated for the potential they hold He therefore contends that we should weep at our own fate, when we see that misery of violated matter, against which a terrible wrong has been committed Of course this unconventionality can and does lead to The Great Heresy of man as Creator It is proclaimed by Schulz s father in his state of advanced insight dementia If, forgetting the respect due to the Creator, I were to attempt a criticism of creation, I would say Less matter, form And it is through an imagination worthy of Mervyn Peake that Schulz lays in the forms missed by the divine Creator Whereas God, as the gnostic Demiurge was in love with consummate, superb, and complicated materials we shall give priority to trash We are simply entranced and enchanted by the cheapness, shabbiness, and inferiority of material The demented father, therefore, re creates creation out of the Demiurge s dross He makes new forms of life beyond that which even God had contemplated, these primitive forms were unremarkable compared with the richness of shapes and the splendour of the pseudofauna and pseudoflora, which sometimes appeared in certain strictly defined environments, such as old apartments saturated with the emanations of numerous existences and events used up atmospheres, rich in the specific ingredients of human dreams rubbish heaps abounding in the humus of memories, of nostalgia, and of sterile boredom On such soil, this pseudovegetation sprouted abundantly yet ephemerally, brought forth short lived generations which flourished suddenly and splendidly, only to wilt and perish The pathos is increased infinitely when one knows his fate as a Jew in Galicia shot as less than vermin by an eminently disrespectful SS officer.In my experience Schulz s prose and imagination are unique Among other things, he doesn t narrate a story, yet still manages to convey a way of being so intimately and concisely that one feels a profoundly important tale has been told But unlike a Proust who dwells almost interminably on each and every detail so that one can feel deadened by description, Schulz moves his attention continuously to yet another interesting thing so that his exquisitely laconic descriptions have wonderful force Schulz s language is somehow comforting while simultaneously unusual and exotic The effect is not unlike that of Borges in the osmotic passage from the real of the quotidian to the hyper real of imagination In the manner of another contemporary, the English Charles Williams, his forms appear sometimes as if a wind from the mouth of God that threatens to consume the world sometimes as the indistinct but overpowering sound of a mob or crowd of shoppers sometimes as apocalyptic signs in the air and water once as the visage of crumbly old Aunt Wanda conjured up on the back of a dining room chair I have a conceit that if C S Peirce or Spinoza could have written poetic prose it would look like this I suspect that both Schulz and Peirce received at least some of their inspiration for this idea from the 16th century Italian, Giordano Bruno See Polish Science fi writer Stanislaw Lem also has a rather interesting variation on this idea of the relation of mind to matter emphasising the latter as superior

  5. says:

    Bruno Schulz, loner from Drogobych as he was named, in this collection of short stories, impressions actually, evokes that distant land called childhood.At the centre of that created world is, quite patriarchal, figure of the father unstuck from reality , absorbed in thoughts and deep in his eccentricities Birds, mannequins and cockroaches gradually are occupying his mind One by one , he shook off the bonds off association with human society.In the background are the other people around the author mother, dreamy and neglecting the house a domestic help Adela, like a pagan goddess, rampant and emanating femininity aunts and uncles and cousins And the house itself, like a labyrinth with unknown number of rooms, where household, especially father is disappearing for whole weeks to emerge unexpectedly another day, cobwebbed and dusted At the forefront, however, is an unique and extremely dense language The atmosphere is dreamy like, the novel reads in just sensual way, you can feel it with your sight, taste and scent Adela returned on luminous mornings, like Pomona from the fire of the enkindled day , tipping from her basket the colorful beauty of the sun glistening wild cherries , full of water under their transparent skins, mysterious black cherries whose aroma surpassed that which would be realized in their taste, and apricots ,in whose golden pulp lay the core of the long afternoons.Schulz captures our senses from the very first passage Seemingly ordinary house under his pen populates with mythical creatures, animated things and humanized animals wallpapers and candelabrums seem to live own life mythologized reality, a rich, almost baroque vocabulary and unbridled imagination of the author, metaphors and ornamentation of the language are used here to describe the world which is going to pass But before that happens, before the winds of history wipe away a small Galician town, its houses and shops ,merchants and teachers , before they destroy the author, let him seduce us and invite to his world Let s immerse ourselves in lazy summer day of August when heat appears to dizzying us and, wandering around in the backstreets, set off to look for cinamonn shops.

  6. says:

    Bruno Schulz had an imagination like no one else His metaphors, similes, and personifications whirl the reader through a cosmos as vivid and surreal as Van Gogh s Starry Night His characters prophesy like the enigmatic beings that inhabit the pages of William Blake At once fiction and nonfiction, prose and poetry, memory and dream, The Street of Crocodiles defies categorization Schulz is sometimes compared to Kafka, but he should not be He is not Kafkaesque The world of Kafka is a nightmare world a nightmare from which one cannot awaken The world of Schulz is the real world touched by the fantastic, the real world as perceived in a dream Nor is this magical realism, for elements of fantasy do not truly invade the real world It is only the narrator s perceptions which import the fantastic or the grotesque into the real The distortions of reality of time and space are distortions imposed by the mind of the observer And the observer is the mythopoeic visionary Bruno Schulz, a man whose dream world is superimposed upon the real one, a man who is at home with the visions of prophets and madmen, a man who never quite lost the childhood ability to see behind the curtain of the mundane, to glimpse the cosmic wonders through which the mass of men and women sleepwalk Schulz is like one who awakens in a dream.The following passages highlight three dream elements in The Street of Crocodiles First, there is spatial distortion I stepped into a winter night bright from the illuminations of the sky It was one of those clear nights when the starry firmament is so wide and spreads so far that it seems to be divided and broken up into a mass of separate skies, sufficient for a whole month of winter nights and providing silver and painted globes to cover all the nightly phenomena, adventures, occurrences and carnivals It is exceedingly thoughtless to send a young boy out on an urgent and important errand into a night like that because in its semiobscurity the streets multiply, becoming confused and interchanged There open up, deep inside a city, reflected streets, streets which are doubles, make believe streets One s imagination, bewitched and misled, creates illusory maps of the apparently familiar districts, maps in which the streets have their proper places and usual names but are provided with new and fictitious configurations by the inexhaustible inventiveness of the night 87 88.Second, there is temporal distortion Everyone knows that in a run of normal uneventful years that great eccentric, Time, begets sometimes other years, different, prodigal years which like a sixth, smallest toe grow a thirteenth freak month We use the word freak deliberately, because the thirteenth month only rarely reaches maturity, and like a child conceived late in its mother s life, it lags behind in growth it is a hunchback month, a half witted shoot, tentative than real What is at fault is the senile intemperance of the summer, its lustful and belated spurt of vitality It sometimes happens that August has passed, and yet the old thick trunk of summer continues by force of habit to produce and from its moldered wood grows those crab days, weed days, sterile and stupid, added as an afterthought stunted, empty, useless days white days, permanently astonished and quite unnecessary They sprout, irregular and uneven, formless and joined like the fingers of a monster s hand, stumps folded into a fist There are people who liken these days to an apocrypha, put secretly between the chapters of the great book of the year to palimpsests, covertly included between its pages to those white, unprinted sheets on which eyes, replete with reading and the remembered shapes of words, can imagine colors and pictures, which gradually become paler and paler from the blankness of the pages, or can rest on their neutrality before continuing the quest for new adventures in new chapters 125 126.And last, there is the uncanny the revelation of an occult world that coexists with the real world, a world hidden from all but the few whose peculiar nature allows them to discover it at that late hour the strange and most attractive shops were sometimes open, the shops which on ordinary days one tended to overlook I used to call them cinnamon shops because of the dark paneling of their walls These truly noble shops, open late at night, have always been the objects of my ardent interest Dimly lit, their dark and solemn interiors were redolent of the smell of paint, varnish and incense of the aroma of distant countries and rare commodities You could find in them Bengal lights, magic boxes, the stamps of long forgotten countries, Chinese decals, indigo, calaphony from Malabar, the eggs of exotic insects, parrots, toucans, live salamanders and basilisks, mandrake roots, mechanical toys from Nuremberg, homunculi in jars, microscopes, binoculars and most especially strange and rare books, old folio volumes full of astonishing engravings and amazing stories I remember those old dignified merchants who served their customers with downcast eyes, in discreet silence, and who were full of wisdom and tolerance for their customers most secret whims But most of all, I remember a bookshop in which I once glanced at some rare and forbidden pamphlets, the publications of secret societies lifting the veil on tantalizing and unknown mysteries 89.Familiar streets transformed into a marvelous labyrinth, time extending beyond its natural limits, an esoteric other world concealed in the midst of the ordinary and everyday this is the dreamy Drohobych of Schulz s imagination, a mythic city described in rich prose that alternately drips with the golden juices of ripe fruit or scuttles mechanically on spidery legs or entices the mind with cryptic messages of mystical import The Street of Crocodiles is a weird and wondrous book When Schulz was murdered at the age of fifty, shot by a Nazi soldier, the world lost a truly unique artist.

  7. says:

    PrefaceThis volume contains two collections of short stories and three additional stories that were originally published with Schulz s letters, drawings and miscellaneous prose.I ll review each of the collections separately under their GR titles.After only two or three stories, I started having really vivid responses, which I turned into a story I normally place any creative responses to a book at the end of my analytical review However, this time, I ll reverse the order, so that the review doesn t pre empt what I was trying to achieve with the story.The Mannequin in the House Inspired by the Life and Works of Bruno Schulz My grandfather and I were the first to awake that morning When I came down from my room, he was already in the study, reading the arts pages of the weekend newspaper My family were tailors, but my grandfather loved to read He usually read the news and politics on Saturday, and the arts pages on Sunday, when he had time.I hadn t meant to wake up that early I quickly became restless It wasn t light yet, and my grandfather had only turned on a reading light next to his chair He was always conscious of conserving energy and money His thrift had served him and our family well, I suppose.Grandfather saw that I was fidgety, and went into the kitchen He gave me some coins from the old money tin, and suggested I go to the bakery and buy some pastries for breakfast When I closed the front door behind me, it was already starting to get light I remember the streetlights turning off as I rounded the corner Then I noticed a lot of vehicles and men in uniform I tried not to look at them I don t know how closely they looked at me, but they didn t try to stop me.By the time I returned to the corner with our pastries, they had blocked the street There were fire engines at the corner, but they weren t letting them in The firemen were pointing down the street, agitated, but the men in uniform were holding them back When I got close enough to look down our street, I could see that four houses on our side of the street were on fire They were all in the same block, and one of them belonged to our family I strained to hear anything above the roar of the fire I thought I heard screams, but nobody emerged from any of the buildings A few times, I thought I heard gunshots.I didn t know what to do Nobody who passed me in the street looked me in the eye It was as if I wasn t there, as if I too must have died in the fire.I decided to walk to my uncle s home It was a kilometre away.When I arrived there, he was already in his car with my aunt and my two cousins What s happening I asked They re coming for us We have to leave immediately, or they will kill us, too They had a few possessions in the car with them, but not many.We had to go near our home to get out of the city I asked if I could have a look at it one last time My aunt and uncle discussed the risks on the way there As we got near the corner, I realised that the men in uniform were nowhere to be seen The street was empty, apart from the fire engines I was allowed to walk down to the remains of our home with my oldest cousin, Rudy.The houses had been three storeys high, and each of them had fallen inwards Even before I thought about everything my family had lost, including their lives, I can still remember that my first reaction was how little is left of a home when it is destroyed by fire The pile of rubble didn t even come up to my head.Rudy started to tug at my hand, and I realised that we had to go, before it was too late I took one last look, and it was then that I saw one of grandfather s mannequins Somehow it didn t seem to have been damaged at all I looked at it, and it looked at me, and we said our goodbyes, for the time being.I think they had intended to clear the whole neighbourhood, and rebuild new residences there, but when I returned eighteen months later after the war had ended, nothing had changed Even the mannequin was poking out of the top of the rubble, looking at me I went up to it, lifted it upright, and brushed off the ash and dust It now stood proud above the rubble.I assume this was the moment it resumed its work for my family.The men in uniform had never made their way to my aunt and uncle s home, and I returned there with them Each day, they let me visit our home I think they assumed that I would one day put it behind me They were as surprised as I was when I told them what had happened the following days Each day I returned, a storey of our home seem to be re constructed, by itself, where previously there had only been rubble.By the third day, it seemed to be complete, so for the first time, I entered our home, and discovered that it was exactly as I had left it It was as if this pile of rubble, this empty space, had memorised our home, and given the opportunity, it had rebuilt it from memory.But that is only the first part of my story.I moved back into my room Rudy was allowed to join me as company But I always had a feeling that the house was watching us Now that it existed, it was trying to reconstruct its life, too.One Saturday morning, I came downstairs, went to the bakery, and when I returned, I noticed somebody sitting in the study with a newspaper It was my grandfather He asked whether I had got him his usual rugelach I m sure that I had only ordered enough pastries for Rudy and me, but when I looked into the paper bag, I realised I had enough food for the entire family I assembled it all on a plate on the dining table.Then, as I waited, one by one, my whole family descended from above and said hello, as if nothing had happened.I was only fourteen, but I noticed that everybody looked to me for guidance I didn t know why or what for Soon I seem to have re established all of our family routines, because it was expected of me One that mattered to all of us was evening supper No matter who had been home for dinner, we all gathered for an hour or so before going to bed It was when we listened to everybody s stories about what they had done that day or in the past.The first evening, my grandfather asked, Can you remember one of my stories Well, of course I could, I had sat in his lap for years, memorising his stories as if, one day, when I had grandchildren, they might seem like my stories One by one, over the next few weeks, I told everybody s stories Initially, they just nodded in agreement Occasionally, somebody else said, That s a good one Then one day, at supper, nobody looked at me with their usual expectation Instead, grandfather started by telling a story, then my father said, Funny, that reminds me, and he told one of his stories.After a while, as I had become accustomed to, I said, OK, it s time we all went off to bed Everybody looked at me with bemusement I was, after all, the youngest in the room Then they laughed I looked over to the corner of the dining room, and noticed that even the mannequin was laughing.To this day, we don t go to bed, until each of us has told one of our stories.Darkness and LightI first became aware of Bruno Schulz, when I read one of my favourite novels, Nicole Krauss The History of Love , which I highly recommend By the time I got around to reading Schulz s book, I was aware that its original Polish title had been Cinnamon Shops. I didn t know much else about the subject matter of the book.For me, both alternative titles summon up exotic images of Jewish life between the wars I expected the stories to flesh out these images I had no idea how thoroughly and profoundly they would do so, but not in the manner I had anticipated.There is a lot of darkness and light in the collection.The darkness describes the interior of the narrator s second floor apartment The light describes the sun lit world outside, often described as luminous, that offers up its fruit, vegetables, meat and seafood for consumption People and music move between these worlds The apartment can become light, just by pulling the curtains.Although the darkness and light is grounded in reality, there is a sense in which it is metaphorical, even metaphysical, and in this way it seems to be prescient of the horror of the Holocaust.Cinnamon ShopsI had assumed that the cinnamon shops would describe the outlets of truly noble merchants from which the characters would purchase their groceries and books They do, but the reason for this title is not so much the exotic spices that are on sale, or their smell, but the colour of the timber panelling on the walls Many of my favourite European style restaurants and cafes share this cinnamon appearance It will now have far greater significance for me.These buildings are not brand new They are old, they carry history on their shoulders and in their bones This is Aunt Agatha s home, for example In the gloom of the hall, with its old lithographs, rotten with mildew and blind with age, we rediscovered a well known smell In that old familiar smell was contained a marvellously simple synthesis of the life of those people, the distillation of their race, the quality of their blood, and the secret of their fate, imperceptibly mixed day by day with the passage of their own, private time The buildings don t just reflect and preserve Jewish culture and tradition, they keep it alive, apparently both metaphorically and literally.Still, like all matter, they form part of a process of gradual decline and decay.The paragraph continues The old, wise door, the silent witness of the entries and exits of mother, daughters, sons, whose dark sighs accompanied the comings and goings of those people, now opened noiselessly like the door of a wardrobe, and we stepped into their life I was starting to get the impression that the narrator s world observes and memorises us, that it has human traits.So Very RemoteLike the building, the narrator s eccentric father, Jacob, is slowly fading, wilting before our eyes His personality is disintegrating into a number of opposing and quarrelling selves which dissolved into curses, execrations, maledictions, and insults after which came a period of appeasement, of an interior calm, a blessed serenity of spirit Jacob resides on the borderline between immobility and animation He surrounds himself with old junk and oddities He lives deep inside his own imagination, almost completely rid of bodily needs We did not count him as one of us any, so very remote had he become from everything that was human and real Knot by knot, he loosened himself from us point by point, he gave up the ties joining him to the human community All that remained of him was the small shroud of his body and the handful of nonsensical oddities Jacob is almost metamorphosing into the other world of buildings.The Metaphysical ConjurerThe building is almost human, while Jacob has almost become part of the furniture The concept of this metamorphosis might sound Kafkaesque, but its design and application is unique to Schulz.Still, within the enchantment of his imagination, Jacob has a kingdom and a throne, that together constitute a sovereign magic, although this too is bound to be taken away from him.Jacob is a metaphysical conjurer , opposed to the ordinary, the uniform, the unimaginative, the dull, the conformist, the compliant, the complicit Only now do I understand the lonely hero who alone had waged war against the fathomless, elemental boredom that strangled the city Without any support, without recognition on our part, that strangest of men was defending the lost cause of poetry He was like a magic mill The life of the imagination battles against both the uniform and uniforms The Humus of MemoriesJacob marvels at how beautiful and simple life is The newly awakened joy of life transformed every sensation into a great joke, into gaietyan attempt to express the incredible wonder of that capital enterprise, life, so full of unexpected encounters, pleasures, and thrills In Tailors Dummies , paradoxically, humans have become like automatons, while the mannequins have acquired a pseudo life, their source of sustenance old apartments saturated with the emanations of numerous existences and events used up atmospheres, rich in the humus of memories, of nostalgia, and of sterile boredom At a time in history when we would hope that mankind would be most vital, it is actually in retreat.Apocrypha and PalimpsestsIn the absence of any other guide, Jacob is mapping the psyche of the Street of Crocodiles, this other world of which almost nothing is known It proves to be as complicated and mortal as any human being Apartments like this are unstable, degenerate, and receptive to abnormal temptations it is then that on this sick, tired, and wasted soil colourful and exuberant mildew can flourish in a fantastic growth, like a beautiful rash Still, for all this transgression, the outside world impinges on the Street of Crocodiles The women of the Street of Crocodiles are depraved to only a modest extent, stifled by thick layers of moral prejudice and ordinary banality In that city of cheap human material, no instincts can flourish, no dark and unusual passions can be aroused In Freudian terms, the outside world is still a place where the Id is oppressed by the Super Ego.The Street of Crocodiles is some sort of reprieve, even if it must be a product of the imagination The Street of Crocodiles was a concession of our city to modernity and metropolitan corruption Obviously, we were unable to afford anything better than a paper imitation, a montage of illustrations cut out from last year s moldering newspapers The Indispensable MinimumJacob has but one complaint about creation He calls for Less matter, form He speculates that there might be too much matter and complexity This excess is wasted It has ceased to be beautiful It has become ugly.He decides to experiment on his brother He commits to a gradual shedding of all his characteristics in order to lay bare his deepest self He reduced Uncle to the indispensable minimum, by removing from him one by one all of the inessentials Uncle functioned excellently There was no instance of his refusal to obey Having discarded his complicated personality, in which at one time he had lost himself, he found at last the purity of a uniform and straightforward guiding principle to which he was subjected from now on At the cost of his complexity, which he could manage only with difficulty, he had now achieved a simple problem free immortality The Ultrabarrel of MythWas Uncle happy Not really A question like this makes sense only when applied to creatures who are rich in alternative possibilitiesUncle Edward had no alternatives the dichotomy happy unhappy did not exist for him because he had become completely integrated Ultimately, Jacob realises that he has been working against an eternal, cosmic order He understood that he had gone too far, and put a rein on the flight of his fanciesThe enormous pathos of all these scenes proved that we had removed the bottom of the eternal barrel of memories, of an ultrabarrel of myth, and had broken into a prehuman night of untamed elements, of incoherent anamnesis, and could not hold the swelling flood Perhaps both chaos and complexity are vital aspects of life.Jacob s CosmologyJacob s theories take us through a cosmological journey, from the atom to the universe.Mankind fits somewhere in between The wonder of this collection of stories is that it paints a picture of people in real life, while simultaneously speculating on their position in the cosmos.At the same time, it seems to anticipate the conflict between the Jewish people and Nazism that would lead to the Holocaust.There is a sense in which Jewish culture already seemed to be under threat by the conformism and intolerance of Western culture Jacob uses his imagination to combat this threat This was a difficult enough task However, nobody could have anticipated how difficult the task of combatting Nazism would be.Bruno Schulz didn t survive the combat He died for the most banal of reasons They re detailed in the Introduction.We re incredibly fortunate that these stories survived and that they contribute to our understanding of the Holocaust and mankind.In a way, the survival of these stories helps us to deal with the Holocaust.However, the Introduction informs us that, just as Bruno Schulz died in the Holocaust, so too did his novel called The Messiah.The tragedy is that a book can only work its magic, if it survives the calamity of its era.Whatever the tragedy of losing both the author and his novel, it makes us doubly fortunate that we still have The Street of Crocodiles.

  8. says:

    My father survived World War II hiding in a bunker under the town of Drohobych, so I feel eerily connected to this man and his work It would be fair to call Bruno Schulz Poland s greatest twentieth century writer This collection of stories changes the very definition of what a short story should be There is a beginning, a middle, and an end, yes, but the writing is best described as delirious, hypnotic, dreamlike You don t read Schulz for the plot you read for the prose, the intensely sensual visuals, the way the words unfurl like the leaves of a magical vine Inanimate objects struggle to come to life Secret rooms grow strange, trapped gardens A boy blows away with a gust of wind His father conjures a flock of exotic birds from the pages of a picture book The details of his life are the stuff of legend Bruno Schulz was a shy, frail, brilliant artist, Jewish and secular, who lived in the far eastern Polish town of Drohobych When his father died, he took on the job of art teacher at the local high school to support his mother, sister and nephew, though he found the work both exhausting and consuming Drohobych was a particularly brutal place to be in the cauldron of World War II Thousands of people were marched into the nearby forests and killed, or transported to Treblinka to be gassed For a year, Schulz found a protector and patron in the person of Felix Landau, an art loving Nazi whose war diary is well known Tragically, he was shot to death around noon on November 19, 1942, at the intersection of Czaki and Mickiewicz Streets, on the eve of his planned escape.These lushly worded stories give no warning of the conflagration that is to follow, but the reader s knowledge of Schulz s fate inescapably informs every line Read The Street of Crocodiles if you re interested in what was lost in the fires of the Holocaust Read it if you want to be consumed by fiction that burns like poetry But by all means, read this book.

  9. says:

    As we manipulate everyday words, we forget that they are fragments of ancient and eternal stories, that we are building our houses with broken pieces of sculptures and ruined statues of gods.In walking down The Street of Crocodiles, you take in a writer who can make the mundane into something brilliant Shops on street corners contain wonders, vagrants become wild monsters from fairy tale nightmares These stories slip from the limits imposed by ordinary spaces and times This short brilliant collection refers to itself, interlocks with itself, explores the labyrinths it creates The stories are of birds eggs, bicycles, impassioned rants by the character s father about the all powerful evil of the Gnostic Demiurge and the ethical treatment of tailors dummies These stories defy real comparison Their rich images and curious events make the ordinary world seem less ordinary They make it into something greater, mysterious, curious.As a side note, when I went to finish this collection, I immediately turned to the Introduction to read about what must have been a brilliant man It was only then that I learned that Mr Bruno Schulz was shot to death in broad daylight by the Nazis in 1942 for walking home with a loaf of bread through an Aryan neighborhood Aside from another short story collection and a few drawings and letters, that s all he ever wrote that survived This is a true tragedy.

  10. says:

    In the spirit of my rambling memoir book reviews I will begin with a childhood anecdote that somehow connects or correlates or resonates or slaps a high five with this book I was raised by a sugar free bran loving mother No soda You re better off drinking pool water Nora Here, Christ, take a straw go out and drink pool water if you re so intent on poisoning yourself No white bread again, a reference to cholorine or bleach some sort of chemical that would rot and or sicken my small insides Because of this oat bran regime I became a sugar fiend at age three carob didn t cut it, nor did occasional nutella oatbran toasts I used every last nickel and dime I begged borrowed or pilfered I recycled and cleaned couches all in the name of candy Glorious candy Over time I developed a ritualistic habit of eating particular types of candy For the most part the ceremony involved Skittles and MM s though Mike and Ikes and Starburst worked well enough While my younger brother drank his treats down, I sat patiently, criss cross on the floor, and slid each candy coated jewel from it s pouch onto the ground before me And then I began With great calm and focus I silently arranged the sugary pearls I organized, designed, and created small scale works of mathematical genius Gingery, I slid and placed and replaced the spheres Following my vision I arranged the mandalas, carefully eating just one orb at a time, re arranging to compensate as sugar rounds were sacrificed to satisfy my cravings This ritual lasted well over an hour much to the dismay of my still not sated, impatient brother Somehow, reading this book triggered that memory, and the only explanation I can come up with is that Schulz stories, each one, is as wonderful to me now as a bag of Skittles was twenty some years ago I desperately wanted each chapter to last I read whole paragraphs and pages over and over again, wanting the imagery evoked to remain firmly planted in my mind I wanted to weigh it down with some sort of ballast as lately little stays for all that long up there without a modicum of obsession and a striking amount of effort I was like a skipping record player with some sentences, there were momentary mantras and autistic mumblings Each story, though they are all linked, was like the most masterful sugar structure, the most precariously balanced, breath taking MM monument.Shulz father, Jacob, is hands down the most fascinating character I have encountered on the page in some time His relationships with birds, with cockroaches, with women, with fabric, are amazing Jacob is my ideal client I only want to work in a clinic filled with Jacob Schulzes and deformed birds There will of course be plenty of shelving for all to climb and perch upon Schulz writes like no one I have read before his imagination seems so pure, so untainted or constricted I don t know what else to say Andiamo To the bookstore my bella faccias