American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages

Bruno Schulz and World Literature Author(s): Russell E. Brown Source: The Slavic and East European Journal, Vol. 34, No. 2 (Summer, 1990), pp. 224-246 Published by: American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages Stable URL: Accessed: 07/06/2010 08:15
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Russell E. Brown, SUNY at Stony Brook

Bruno Schulz (1892-1942) is one of the great solitaries of literature, like the poets Rimbaud or Trakl, whose small body of texts seems almost a miracle, appearing suddenly in the literary provinces, apparently self-generated, unique, and inimitable. Spatially, critics attempt to transport these fabulous creatures back within the boundaries of the national literatures from which they have escaped. Temporally, the scholar must also locate the ancestors, the cousins, and the progeny of these evanescent spirits, for even the most original and exotic of artists consumes the artists of the past, and feeds future generations of artists with his own genius. Speaking primarily of Schulz's place in Polish literature, his famous contemporary, S. I. Witkiewicz, wrote in his review of Sklepy cynamonowe(1934, entitled in English The Street of Crocodiles) that Schulz's sentences, "like meteors, illuminate unknown landscapes, which we, usually sunk in the sea of daily trivialities, are unable to see." My subject here is the place of Bruno Schulz, a high-school teacher of art in the little Galician town of Drohobych, in the literary universe outside his native Polish language and culture. Schulz's Fathers Bruno Schulz himself most admired the fiction of three major international contemporaries: Franz Kafka, Marcel Proust, and Thomas Mann. The hypothesis that Schulz was a disciple of Kafka is virtually universal among critics, especially Germans, who often call Schulz "the Polish Kafka."These critics point out the common fixation of the two writers on the father-son relationship, trace the examples of metamorphosis in Schulz's fiction to Kafka, and cite their common cultural background as Jews living in provinces of the Hapsburg Empire and its successor states. The final proof of influence is the Polish translation of Der ProzeJf(The Trial) which appeared under Schulz's name in 1936. Jerzy Ficowski, however, has shown that the translation was actually done by a woman friend, and Schulz simply wrote an SEEJ, Vol. 34, No. 2 (1990) 224

Bruno Schulz and World Literature


introduction (1967, 168). Witold Gombrowicz observed about the Kafka connection: "If they say he is just one more cousin, he is lost" (9). The shared motif of metamorphosis does provide a basis for contrasting the fiction of Schulz and Kafka, but it is of secondary importance whether Schulz found this ancient motif in the modern setting of Kafka's Die Verwandlung (The Metamorphosis), since each author employs it in such a different way. Kafka applies metamorphosis subjectively in that seminal tale to his surrogate, the son figure, while Schulz never uses it for the autobiographical boy Joseph, but exclusively for his father and other family adults, uncles and aunts. Kafka applies metamorphosis as an irreversible punishment to a guilty character, whereas Schulzian metamorphosis is not predicated on guilt; it has a creative or playful aspect, and it can be reversed, at least in the father's case. The just and fitting punishment of Gregor Samsa seems to be based on Greek mythological models like Narcissus or Arachne, while the metamorphoses of Schulz's characters resemble more the medieval fairy tale-the victim is innocent and the changed state is transitory. When Joseph's father undergoes a series of transformations which signify his madness, disease, alienation, and death, each seems to be a whimsical, fleeting response by the father himself in response to some disturbing element in the setting, and the changes are often frankly conceded to be figurative rather than literal. For Schulz metamorphosis is only one illustration of a general theory of matter as animate, self-directed and infinitely changeable, as expounded in the "Traktato manekinach" ("Treatiseon Tailor's Dummies," 1934). Kafka writes of the guilt of sons and their punishment by father figures, whereas Schulz sees his father as a creative genius and a model for his own later creative endeavors. In the stories Joseph is usually passive, tolerant, a watcher and a learner. He does not envy his father's bizarre erotic practices. The Kafka surrogate tries to negate the sexuality of father figures by seducing their partners away to himself, as in Das SchlofJ(The Castle).' As a writer (his nighttime occupation) Kafka often reflects his daytime, official occupation as a lawyer, in the crime and punishment motifs of his fiction and in the manner of his presentation itself: his endless analyses are like legal briefs or arguments before a judge. Likewise Schulz, the frustrated pictorial artist, reduced to giving drawing lessons to schoolboys, is a painter in his fiction, flooding his stories with vivid color and expressionistic images: the sky, the streets, and the family dwelling with its malevolent wallpaper, its long-forgotten rooms, the squares of sunlight on the floor. There is a conscious symbolism of color in Schulz's fiction. The bright colors, especially red (see the beginning of "Wiosna" ["Spring" 1937]), have positive values, while "the most damning epithet in Schulz's lexicon is 'gray' or 'colorless,'" as Taylor has observed (459). The Kafka persona seems oblivious to the dynamic natural world so vividly experienced by Schulz's Joseph; the starry maps of the night sky in July, the great autumnal storms, the explosive jungles of vacant lots are unseen by Kafka's urban protagonists. When they escape the dreary city they are found in the desert of "In der Strafkolonie" ("In the Penal Colony") or its snowy counterpart in "Ein Landarzt" ("A Country Doctor"). Certain motifs in the latter story, such as the uncontrollable horse, the nighttime journey through a snowy landscape, and the mortal


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wound may be reflected in the story Sklepy cynamonowe, but these two Jewish sons of the Hapsburg provinces are, at best, very distant relatives.
* * *

During the Russian occupation of Eastern Poland in World War Two, Schulz submitted a story to Nowe Widnokrfgi, a new journal in Lvov (the organ of Sovietcontrolled Polish communists in the Soviet Union), only to be informed "We don't need any Prousts." Schulz himself wrote in 1939 that he wished for quiet "to set about, like Proust, to the formulation of my ultimate, definite world" (Taylor, 456). He has been called the Polish Proust as well as the Polish Kafka, patronizing titles which ignore his unique, unmistakable artistic individuality. Isaac B. Singer, at least, believes he "sometimes succeeded in reaching depths that neither of them reached" (WashingtonPost Book Week [22 December 1963], 4). Proust and Schulz were both supreme neurotics, who suffered poor health, never married, and died about age fifty. Their almost identical calendar birth and death dates twenty years apart is a curious fact. (Of course, the murder of Schulz by the SS in the Drohobych ghetto in November 1942 cannot be attributed to his poor health or neurotic personality.) Proust's Jewish mother inspired an obsessive dependency in her son; Schulz displays a father fixation. Each author had a deviant sexual orientation, although the sexual inversion of the French author found ample expression both in his literary works and his life, while Schulz's masochism seems to have been expressed mainly in his art, his paintings and drawings, and to a lesser degree in his fiction. Since the publication of A la recherche du temps perdu, completed in 1927, was speedily followed by the Polish translation by Tadeusz Boy-2elenski, Proust's enormous epic was readily available to Schulz as he turned to writing fiction. A comparison of the authors may commence with the relative quantity of their literary production: the three thousand pages of Remembranceof ThingsPast dwarf the two hundred pages of Schulz's two slim volumes of fiction. Proust portrays a broad panorama of French society, including the aristocracy, the rich bourgeoisie, and servant class, in varied settings from Paris to provincial Combray to the beach resort of Balbec. Schulz's fiction seldom leaves his hometown Drohobych or the petit bourgeois milieu of shopkeepers and their dependents. Both authors shared a fascination with the past and with childhood, and they believed that there they had experienced authenticity which their art must now try to recover. Proust, however, from the isolation of his famous cork-lined room (compare Schulz's story "Samotnosc" ["Loneliness"]) also depicted present-time quest and enterprise in the life of his surrogate first-person narrator Marcel and in other autobiographical figures like Charles Swann; this corresponds to his own career as a young intellectual and social climber before his mother's death. Schulz, on the other hand, never ventures beyond the little provincial town of his childhood. Proust seeks to recover the "enchanted garden" (Girard, 4) of his childhood in Combray among the aristocracy, the Guermantes, in the salons, and in sexual adventures; Schulz never undergoes a spatial estrangement from his "garden,"but remains wistfully in its neighborhood, in his fiction and his life. Even the fictional journey to visit his dead father in "Sanatorium" neither exorcised that figure in his life, nor broadened the spatial perspective of his fiction, for the sanatorium world is

Bruno Schulz and World Literature


revealed to be only a mirror image of his home, situated behind death. The passive, contemplative stance of the Schulzian child, along with the atrophy of the narrative in many texts, enhances the effect of deceleration engendered by his poetic prose on the reader; John Updike speaks of Schulz's "prose which never, unlike that of Proust or Kafka, propels us onward, but instead seems constantly to ask that we stop and reread"(xiv). Like Schulz, Proust was a great innovator of language and imagery; Fowlie calls him "a creator of metaphor who continues the tradition of Baudelaire and Mallarme" (33). It is in this area that one can establish kinship, rather than in the fictional plot and characters of Proust. A single example of an extended image from Swann's Waymust suffice to show the affinity of their style and method: And I should have liked to be able to sit down and spendthe whole day there readingand listeningto the bells, for it was so blissfuland so quiet that, whenan hourstruck,you would have said not that it broke in upon the calm of the day, but that it relievedthe day of its and of exactitude a personwho has superfluity, that the steeple,with the indolent,painstaking nothing else to do, had simply-in order to squeezeout and let fall the few golden drops accumulated the hot sunlight-pressed,at a givenmoment, in whichhad slowlyand naturally surfaceof the silence.(181-82) the distended Such imagery, with its synesthesia and personification, which Proust applies even to rooms, windows, and furniture (Within a Budding Grove, 622) is so like Schulz's practice that one may suspect the direct influence of, rather than simple kinship with, the French author. In addition, certain themes and motifs in Proust may have inspired or reinforced those of Schulz. The long discussions of sleep, which follow the opening analysis of sleep in Proust's epic, are matched by the metaphoric descriptions of sleep, almost a leitmotiv, in Schulz's fiction. The anecdote of an old man, Nissim Bernard, in love with an insolent young waiter (Cities of the Plain, 871 ff.) may be compared with the post-mortem infatuation of Joseph's father with the waiter Adam in "Sanatorium pod klepsydra" (126-27).
* * *

Schulz's affinity to Thomas Mann is also strong. In 1938 he even sent Mann a beautifully illustrated thirty-page German language story, "Die Heimkehr" ("The Homecoming"), which was left behind when Mann fled from Switzerland to the United States. Mann and Schulz also corresponded about this story.2 Two specific aspects of Thomas Mann's work relate directly to the fiction of Bruno Schulz. The first is the nostalgia for a lost childhood world in a prominent and secure middleclass family. Mann's first novel, Buddenbrooks(1901) is the chronicle of a merchant family in decline, with the sensitive, artistic child Hanno as witness and proof of its decay. The patrician ways of gentlemen entrepreneurs are no match for the ruthless American practices of a new commercial generation. This is a theme throughout Schulz's fiction, for example in the story "Ulica Krokodyli" ("The Street of Crocodiles," 1934). The second feature of Mann's work which fascinated Schulz was the German author's use of mythology. Schulz's seminal essay on myth, "Mityzacja rzeczywistosci" ("Mythologizing Reality,"Studio, 1936, 3-4) takes a more solemn and elevated view of myth than that often revealed in his fiction. Mann specifically recovered or


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reconstructed ancient mythology in his emerging Joseph tetralogy, which Schulz praised, but also less explicitly in works like Der Zauberberg(The Magic Mountain, 1924), perhaps a source of Schulz's story "Sanatorium Pod Klepsydr4"("Sanatorium under the Sign of the Hourglass," 1937). An acquaintance of Bruno Schulz, Emil Gorski, wrote that he knew Schulz to be especially fond of Der Zauberberg (Ficowski, 1984, 71). But as in the case of Proust and autobiography, Schulz's use of myth differs from that of his mentor. Mann is erudite and antiquarian in his approach to biblical and classical materials, while Schulz is original, spontaneous, and naive in his fantastic mythical compositions and his frequent single casual analogies to established myth. V. S. Pritchett discovered in Schulz "his sense of life as a collusion or conspiracy of improvised myths." Mann is like a professor; Schulz displays the irreverence of a schoolboy in his treatment of myth. Thus, he playfully alludes to motifs from the Joseph-Jacob materials of Genesis in the stories "Wiosna" ("Spring")and "Martwy sezon" ("Dead Season"), both 1937, rather than building an elaborate system of classical reference as in Mann's "Der Tod in Venedig" ("Death in Venice," 1912). In respect to myth as well as to stories of childhood, Mann seems much more a writer of the nineteenth century, despite his often-cited irony, than the irrepressible Schulz, whose radical linguistic exploits and surrealistic revisions of a mundane world make him as surely a child of his century as Andre Breton or Louis Aragon.
* * *

Thus the case for the influence on Schulz of the three major authors, Kafka, Proust, and Thomas Mann, who have most often been cited by the critics. Now I want to consider a new figure, Louis Aragon, the Dadaist and Surrealist, who later in life wrote novels in support of Communism. Bruno Schulz reviewed one of the latter, Les Cloches de Bale (Bells of Basel, 1934), in WiadomosciLiterackie in 1936 after the Polish translation appeared (Dzwony Bazylei). While his review was very favorable, Schulz's period of literary productivity was already drawing to a close with the publication of his second volume, Sanatoriumpod Klepsydrqin 1937. Therefore, any direct influence on Schulz's fiction must be sought in an earlier phrase of Aragon's work. The work I want to consider is Le Paysan de Paris, one of the classics of French Surrealism, which appeared in 1926. Since this prose work was not translated into Polish until 1971 (by Artur Miedzyrzecki under the title Wiesniakparyski) and was also not translated into German during Schulz's lifetime, any influence of this work must be predicated on the assumption that Bruno Schulz was in a position to read it in French. His review of the later work by Aragon admittedly does not mention Le Paysan de Paris. It will also be recalled that Proust's novels had been translated into Polish in good time to serve as an inspiration to Schulz. In light of these observations it would seem foolish to seek to establish the influence of Le Paysan de Paris on the fiction of Schulz. And yet the uncanny similarities in metaphor, story, and motif tempt one to speculate that Schulz was familiar with the novel, which is considered along with Andre Breton's Nadja (1928) the outstanding prose work of French Surrealism (F. Brown). From the Polish critical side, M. Glowiniski relates the work of Schulz specifically with that of Aragon and his text Le Paysan de Paris, which she sees as having a common post-realist (nad-

Bruno Schulz and World Literature


realizmie) heritage, that of the Formists ("Nowa fantastyka," Tworczosc 1957, 10-11, 170); she does not maintain however that Bruno Schulz actually read this work (quoted by Speina, 9). Sen has written that "Only one comparison offers any insight into Schulz's writing: it has certain features in common with the prose of the French and Spanish Surrealists. Yet one must guard against attributing these similarities to influence. . ." (264). But H. H. Mann relates Schulz's techniques of image association and metaphor construction specifically to the methods of the French Surrealists, quoting from the Manifestes du surrealisme of 1924 and 1930 (104-06). Andrzej Wirth found parallels to the post-surrealist writers, Max Jacob and Henri Michaux (338). Le Paysan de Paris is divided into two main sections: in the first the narrator assembles descriptions, reminiscences, and some anecdotal material about the Passage de l'Opera, a soon to be destroyed covered arcade in Paris; there follows the account of a nocturnal excursion made by the narrator and some friends to a large park at the edge of Paris, the Buttes-Chaumont. The initial essayistic section renounces any resemblance to a narrative story line. This recalls many stories of Schulz, like the "Ulica Krokodyli," which present an urban street scene or other setting as the distillation of many visits rather than the narrative of an historical occasion. As Bondy remarked, "The experiments of Schulz destroy the unity of the story-line, and in this sense are a predecessor of the modern anti-novel" (338). The shops and business establishments which line Aragon's Passage are full of objects of obscure antiquity or of an incomprehensible modern technology, objects which entrance and baffle the narrator. And yet the childlike amazement and naivet6 of both Aragon's narrator and Schulz's Joseph in his own window-shopping are accompanied by erudite and sophisticated analysis of society and civilization. This juxtaposition of childish simplicity with the philosophical is characteristic of both Aragon's novel and the fiction of Bruno Schulz. Bernd Witte remarks that Aragon's narrator is "passive as a medium" (95); so also is Schulz's Joseph, although Joseph's youth justifies his passivity as well as his professed simplicity. There is also a common elegiac tone, a nostalgia for a vanishing world of little shops run by erudite eccentrics, now threatened by a shoddy "American" mass culture (a favorite word of Schulz is tandeta 'trash', cf. Bondy, 346-47). Aragon's Boulevard Haussmann like Schulz's Crocodile Street signifies the destruction of traditional mercantile culture, although the latter street, set in an empty area of the city map (100), does not actually require the demolition of existing neighborhoods. In Aragon's Passage, an ordinary shop or business often serves as a faqade for illicit sexual activities (44-45, 71-72, 81-84). The tone of mock indignation and fascination in the treatment of these dens of iniquity is identical in Aragon and in the "Ulica krokodyli" story, which features a tailor shop leading to hidden treasures of pornography and to prostitutes of both sexes. A sample from the description of what is apparently a homosexual Bathhouse in the Passage concludes in the voice of a persona indistinguishable from Schulz:
Moreover, I see the real purpose of this basement: it is a calorimetric laboratory. The valet and the maid, a distinguished team of physicians working incognito, dip their acquiescent subjects in calorimeters and carefully reckon the dissipation of energy. They hope some day to demonstrate the flaw in Carnot's law. Meanwhile the valet yawns and the maid reads detective novels. (45)


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Of course, it should be noted that the Aragon figure is not averse to enjoying the proffered sexual services, while Joseph, the eternal spectator, withdraws from the Crocodile Street tailor shop, as well as all other opportunities for sexual adventure throughout the stories. His father and other father figures are sexually active, while the figure of Joseph, even when it is clear he has become a grown man, retains the timidity and diffidence of a middle-class child. The most daring act recorded in the annals of Joseph is his ordering a pornographic book from a mail-order book store in the story "Sanatorium pod Klepsydr4" (123). There are many other motifs in Aragon's Le Paysan de Paris which are shared by Schulz: metamorphosis (94), postage stamp analysis (57-58, cf. "Wiosna"), lists of advertisements for products of dubious value (74, 77, cf the descriptions of the Sacred Book in "Ksiega" ["The Book," 1937]), and fantastic, animated descriptions of the sky (138). Witte has pointed out the ubiquity of the motif of philately in works of European Surrealism, mentioning Aragon's novel, Walter Banjamin's Einbahnstrafie(One-Way Street, 1928), and Osip Mandel'stam's last book, The Egyptian Postage Stamp (also 1928). The latter has been called "one of the few examples of surrealist fiction to be found in all of Russian literature" (C. Brown, 32). While a direct borrowing by Schulz from any of these models is conceivable, it is better to think of his use of the postage-stamp motif as evidence of his general participation in the Surrealist movement, whether conscious or instinctive. Thus, Jerzy Speina relates the description of Rudolph's stamp collection in "Wiosna" to a lyrical apostrophe to stamp collecting in Le Paysan de Paris; in these strikingly parallel passages and elsewhere the authors share a common metaphorical structure; behind surface existence they uncover a hidden reality which can emerge suddenly, growing feverishly into fantastic shapes (Speina, 56). These cascades of imagery, deriving from a prosaic or casual reference in the surface world, are characteristic of this most Surrealistic work of Aragon and the fiction of Schulz, which shows throughout its roots in European Surrealism. Finally, the informal, chatty tone of a causerie prevails in both authors' work: Aragon invites the reader "Let us stroll. . ." (118) or poses rhetorical questions to the reader: "Who can tell me the secret of those steel hoops?" (118). Particularly the latter, with its personification of the inanimate, is familiar from the ruminations of the narrator Joseph or the quoted discourse of his father, Mr. Jakob, in the "Traktat o manekinach" ("Treatise on Tailors' Dummies," 1934) story sequence: "How much ancient suffering is there in the varnished grain, in the veins and knots of our old familiar wardrobes?" (69). In both cases the confrontation of the reader recalls the artifice of the novel's beginnings in England, for example Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy (1759). The tone and manner seem strangely at odds with the radical metaphors and surrealist extravagance of Aragon and Schulz. yet one finds the same conversation with the reader in Mandel'stam's prose and, more recently, in Bohumil Hrabal and Danilo Kis.
* * *

It is sometimes maintained (Bondy, 336; Goslicki-Baur, 136) that Schulz was more influenced by German than by Polish literature. He often mentioned his love for Goethe and Rilke. Certainly the Hapsburg Empire under which he lived until age twenty-nine provided models from the neighboring province, from Prague (Rilke, Meyrink, as well as Kafka), and from the capital, Vienna, with the WienerModerne.

Bruno Schulz and World Literature


As Speina has shown (101-2), there are strong connections not only with European Surrealism, but with German Expressionism, particularly with the lyric of Jakob von Hoddis and Georg Heym; Speina compares motifs in Heym's "Die Damonen der Stadte" with the apocalyptic late story of Schulz, "Kometa" ("The Comet," in Wiadomosci Literackie, 1938). Besides the thematic of the end of the world, one could mention other motifs of Heym's early Expressionist poetry that appear in Schulz's prose as well: the grotesque personification of natural forces like storms or seasons, the supernatural presented in monstrous figures from resurrected ancient mythology, the dynamic metaphors, the colors, even the favored night-time setting of the young (1887-1912) Berlin poet. Jakob von Hoddis (pseudonym for Hans Davidsohn), known above all for his eight-line poem "Weltende"published in January 19.11, often called the beginning of German Expressionism, displays a further element of Schulz's artistic world, perverse sexuality; after many years in mental hospitals he, too, fell a victim of Hitler's extermination programs. Schulz sent the Hitler exile Joseph Roth, who was then living in Paris, a dedicated copy of Sklepy cynamonowein 1934, praising works of Roth he had read, Radetzkymarsch (1932), Zipper und sein Vater (1928), and Rechts und Links (1929.3 Bondy sees a relation between Schulz's subject matter of the fall of a patrician business system with Roth's "Der Leviathan" (postum 1940), the story of a coral merchant, ruined by cheap imitations. Other critics also see an affinity to Joseph Roth, who was, like Schulz, a Galician Jew: they share a nostalgia for the old Austrian empire and its emperor Franz Joseph, and Schulz reflects the warmth and color of Roth's human portraits, including provincial Jewish society, the sole milieu of Schulz's fiction. But Roth uses a far more traditional narrative technique and his tone is elegiac, melancholy, even sentimental, whereas Schulz portrays grotesque eccentrics from a nominally childlike viewpoint, behind which flashes of irony of adult worldliness and sophistication often can be perceived. This tension between the narrator Joseph's childish wonder and incomprehension and the author's bemused and sly subversiveness is one of the main features of Schulzian texts, reminiscent for example of the manner of another great chronicler of childhood, Mark Twain, in The Adventuresof Huckleberry Finn (1885). But to remain with the German language literary context most accessible to Schulz, a better analogy than Joseph Roth to Schulz's "magic realism" appear in the writing of the Swiss Robert Walser, especially his Jokob von Gunten (1909), in which the young aristocratic hero enrolls in an academy for the training of perfect servants. This bizarre schoolboy world reveals melodramatic intrigues and fantasies of spectacular success for the introspective outsider Jakob, much as for Joseph in "Wiosna." Walser was also a master of the literary miniature, much admired by Kafka. Walser's other two novels, Geschwister Tanner(The Tanner Siblings, 1907) and Der Gehiilfe (The Assistant, 1908), also written and published in Berlin, are full of the same poignant lyrical descriptions of nature and the human habitat we find in Schulz and which are so manifestly absent in Kafka. Another congruity with Schulz is the air of sexual diffidence displayed by the protagonists, who even as grown men show the reticence and ingenuousness of boys. Finally, what Walser once remarked about the unity of his short prose pieces could as well be applied to the classification of Schulz's texts. Walser wrote:


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my prose pieces are nothing but parts of a long, plotless, realistic story. For me, the sketches I produce are lesser or more comprehensive novel chapters. The novel I am still working on and

it cut addingto is everthe sameand one mightbe ableto designate a variously up or disjointed
first-person book. (Das Gesamtwerk, 10, 323)

Although Bruno Schulz's fiction is largely collected in two individual volumes, his stories also lack a consecutive linear plot development and, in some cases, any plot at all. Yet Schulz's volumes of short fiction are sometimes even characterized as novels (for example by Sen, 267-68). Vienna was also the home of Sigmund Freud, whose father came from Galicia; (The Interpretation beginning about 1900 with the publication of Die Traumdeutung of Dreams) Freud's influence on central European culture and writers was immediate and profound, especially on writers like Kafka and later Schulz, who found the dependencies and conflicts of their middle-class patriarchal families depicted and analyzed in his work. That Freud drew his paradigms from classical literature and was himself a literate, elegant writer of prose only enhanced his appeal to artistintellectuals. Freud also trained young men to see their fathers and family relations in a new light, directly affecting their fictional worlds, as for Franz Kafka and Robert Walser, perhaps so also for Bruno Schulz. Schulz's patent reversal of the Oedipus conflict, his father worship, lies within the perimeter of Freudian theory, which projects phases of bonding with the parent of the same sex; Freud wrote that each neurotic has been an Oedipus or, as a reaction to his complex, become a Hamlet (Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, XXI). In Schulz's fiction, all of which was composed after his father's death, the faqade of the narrator's early father worship is maintained into adulthood, albeit tempered by subversive irony and grotesque exaggerations. Freud is a presence in Schulz's work, which is full of mythology, dreams, and compulsions. Yet one recognizes the accuracy of John Bayley's formulation: "all Freud's schematization of the family, the Oedipus complex and the instincts determined by it, are blown away in the invigorating gale of Schulz's creative fantasy" (NYRB, July 20, 197). A relation exists between Schulz's fiction and the French Symbolist-Impressionist novel Le grand Meaulnes (The Wanderer,1912) by Henri Alain-Fournier. Although based in a courtship situation rather than in Schulz's return to the family intimacy of childhood, it is the story of young people seeking a lost childhood paradise. The chance visit of the school-boy Augustin Meaulnes to a mysterious party at a country estate leads him and his friend, the narrator Franqois Seurel, to try to rediscover the apparently magical setting and the young "princess"with whom Meaulnes fell in love at first sight. Unlike Schulz's Joseph, Meaulnes is able to return, only to find the paradise ruined, the house sold and levelled, the illusion of an enchanted visit back in time prosaically explained as an elaborate masquerade. However, Speina feels that Schulz in his own art is stepping in the footprints of Alain-Fournier in showing the dramatic attempt to return to the myth of happy childhood (28). While much of the melodramatic spirit of "Wiosna" and the perfect love object Bianca prefigures Alain-Fournier's great novel, Schulz's hero never reaches the world of the past and of childhood again, even to find disillusionment there; his stories lack both the erotic development of Alain-Fournier's world, where marriages and even the birth of a child occur, as well as the dynamism and mobility of the youthful characters, features more akin to the world of Proust than that of Schulz.

Bruno Schulz and World Literature


And yet the fairy-tale elements, the rich, lyrical descriptions of nature (both authors love the wind, the night, the sky), the symbolism of geography and house settings, and the nostalgic return to childhood refracted in several characters suggest an affinity to, perhaps even an influence on, the Polish author, who himself could have written this statement of the twenty-year-old Alain-Fournier: is it To My credoin artandliterature childhood. succeedin expressing withoutany childishness (cf Rimbaud),with its depths which borderon mystery.Perhapsmy futurebook will be a continuousand unconscious comingandgoing betweendreamand reality-"dream" meaning life indefinite of childhood,hovering abovethe other,and endlessly the immense, reverberating withthe echoesof the other.(letterto JacquesRiviere, August22, 1906) Finally, Cynthia Ozick and others have noted another source of literary and cultural affinity for Schulz, the Jewish world of Eastern Europe, the stetl with its mad religious dreamers, marriage brokers, and shopkeepers. Sholem Aleichem, Babel, Singer, and Bobrowski are authors in this rich tradition, to which grotesque Schulzian characters like Shlomo the thief, Dodo, Eddie, and even Adela can be related. Other critics link the writer Schulz to avant-garde painters. We may note the childlike primitivist art of Henri Rousseau with its strong colors, but perhaps the greatest affinity is with Marc Chagall. Like Schulz, Chagall was at once a religious mystic and an irrepressible comedian. His nostalgic, fantastic vistas of the Eastern Jewish universe with floating cows or lovers, with grotesque village characters, match the literary milieu of Schulz so well that Chagall's painting can seem closer to the writer Schulz than Schulz's own art work, which compulsively repeats a single motif, male submission to dominant women. David Grossmann in a novel discussed below, related Schulz's art to that of Edvard Munch, by having his fictional Bruno visit an exhibition of the Norwegian painter's work in Danzig before he dies. Schulz's Children Any immediate influence of Schulz on writers of the international scene was prevented by the advent of World War Two and the author's murder on the streets of Drohobych in November, 1942. After the war Schulz's fiction was rejected by the new Polish state as decadent, esoteric, "bordering on psychopathology" (Ryszard Matuszewski, quoted by Sen, 380); it was not republished until 1957. Even such a scholar as Jan Kott said in 1946 that he saw no reason to translate Schulz into French (40). The new Polish editions (1957, 1964), which appeared at a time when Socialist Realism was no longer regarded as the sole acceptable mode for modern literature, led to translations into French and German in 1961, and English in 1963. Only then did the influence of Bruno Schulz on world literature become a practical possibility. Few have followed the example of James Joyce, who learned Norwegian in order to read Ibsen in the original, and learned Polish in order to read the works of Schulz. The deceased Schulz, still untranslated when he was swallowed up by the Holocaust, was remembered (publicly) only by a few exile and his admirers at home, like Jerzy Ficowski or Artur Sandauer. Since the initial wave of enthusiastic reviews and perceptive introductions to the new foreign editions, the resonance of Schulz's work outside Poland has been somewhat disappointing. Goslicki-Baur, the author of the first monograph in Ger-


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man on Schulz, speculates that this is due to a supposed epigonal quality of his art, maintaining that he practiced a form of modernism which had already reached Poland by 1905 (139). One may reply that Schulz's work is more properly called surrealistic, and the movement of Surrealism did not begin in France until after World War One; Schulz's contemporaries in Poland certainly did not view his work as old-fashioned but as a radical new departure. Goslicki-Baur also ascribes a lack of universality to his work, since it avoids a confrontation with contemporary society and its problems (138 ff.). Kafka also ignored current history and portrayed a world without place names and dates, but many would assert that Kafka (and Schulz) achieve universality exactly by this means. Like the plays of Beckett or Witkiewicz the fiction of Bruno Schulz operates largely outside of history; Franz Joseph, the Austrian emperor of Schulz's youth, and other historical personages exist mainly as subjects for postage stamps or waxworks museums, as in "Wiosna" or "Traktato Manekinach." Perhaps it might be better said that each generation has a set of interests and values which individual writers of the past may or may not address. In the West neither the radical generation of the Vietnam period nor the pragmatic, successoriented youth of today find the nostalgia for a lost Galician childhood world compelling. Schulz's androcentric portrayal of women, from female relatives seeking to castrate him and other males to the seductive servant girl, is also not in tune with feminist or liberated views of relations between the sexes, although one may view Schulz, like Kafka, as an involuntary victim of a pervasively sexist society. Disregarding generational responses, which would reject much of the great literature of the past, it is hard to imagine the literate reader who does not respond with delight to the imagery and originality of Schulz's language, the ecstatic celebrations of nature, the starry skies and weed-choked vacant lots of his fictional domain. Like the poetry of Georg Trakl or Else Lasker-Schiiler, Schulz's fiction is daring in its metaphor even in the context of the radical world of modern art; at the same time it is traditional and even archaic in its revival of ancient mythological patterns. This blend of radical linguistic explosions and new patterns of archaic mythology constitutes the unique Schulzian aura, the inimitable Schulzian "sound." Despite Ficowski's assertion that Schulz's work is "exceptional and unrepeatable" (Regiony, 42) a number of writers, especially in Eastern Europe, have confronted the fiction (or the life) of Bruno Schulz. Here I want to consider Danilo Kis (born 1935), Bohumil Hrabal (1914), the American Cynthia Ozick (1928), and the Israeli David Grossman (1954).
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Danilo Kis is a Yugoslav by birth, who wrote in Serbo-Croatian. He lived and taught in France until his recent death. Two of his books have been translated into English, many others into German and French. He once told John Updike "Schulz is my God." Basta, pepeo (Garden, Ashes, 1965) provides an astonishingly accurate echo of Schulz's style and subject matter. It is the first-person story of the author's childhood, a tribute to his eccentric father. The text follows, in a fragmentary, mystifying manner, the general outline of Kis's family history. The book's family moves from Yugoslavia to Hungary to escape the Nazis, but the Jewish Eduard Scham is eventually sent to a concentration camp while his Aryan wife and their children survive the war.

Bruno Schulz and World Literature


In the post-war period the father appears in various disguises, recalling the Schulzian motif of often repeated deaths and metamorphoses, for instance in "Karakony" ("Cockroaches," 1934), where Joseph's dead father is at once a cockroach, a stuffed condor, and a travelling salesman. The Kis father figure also created a great mystical masterpiece, actually a mere compendium of railroad, ship, and airline timetables; this seems clearly inspired by the bogus Sacred Book of Schulz, which he recovered from his father in "Ksiega." This was an apocryphal,sacral Bible in which the miracleof genesis was repeated,yet in which all divine injusticesand the impotenceof man were rectified.In this pentateuch, distancesbetweenworlds-divided so cruellyby divinewill and originalsin-had been cut back to humanscale once more. With the blind rage of a Prometheus a demiurge,my father and the refusedto acknowledge distancebetweenearthand heaven.(34-35) Eduard Scham loses his position as a respected railroad official and becomes a mad wanderer, while his family is dependent on the charity of the mother's relatives in the village. Joseph's father also ends in madness and bankruptcy. This is not to say, of course, that there are no differences between the fiction of Kis and Schulz. Garden,Ashes, for example, is set in recognizable modern history, however surrealistic, while Schulz's Drohobych is a timeless locale. The Scham family flees from the persecution of an anti-semitic Fascist mob, which is trying to break into their home, while the Jewishness of Joseph's family is not that of a persecuted minority; indeed, no one around them is even specifically non-Jewish. In Schulz the antisemitism, pogroms, and wars of the twentieth century are simply invisible. Kis's story of flight from the Nazis and confrontations with local peasants, who once even try to lynch the father, is more reminiscent of Jerzy Kosinski's The Painted Bird (1965) than of Schulz's memorialization of provincial boredom and eccentricity. Kosinski's and Kig's "sons"are sexually precocious, not passive watchers of paternal sexuality; the school scenes of Kis are much closer to those of Gombrowicz's Ferdydurke (1937). Kis's other translated text, Grobnicaza Borisa Davidovica (A Tombfor Boris Davidovich, 1976), is a collection of stories of Jewish martyrdom through the ages, totally unlike Schulz in style and concept. Even so, for long passages Kis's bold metaphors, his vivid descriptions of nature, his portraits of grotesque relatives can make one imagine s/he is reading a lost text of Bruno Schulz, perhaps the legendary Messias. What is most interesting about Garden, Ashes is that an obviously autobiographical novel can be so indebted to another author's work yet remain a powerful personal document. One reviewer, unaware of Kis's fascination with Schulz, was puzzled by the "slightly hyperbolic" or "somewhat uncontrolled style" (Croucher, 127). In fact, the novel is a masterpiece of control-the perfect recreation of another author's voice.
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The Czech author Bohumil Hrabal (1914) was a law student when the Germans occupied Prague. Like Bruno Schulz he made a late start in his literary career, achieving celebrity only in 1962. After the great success of Ostre sledovane vlaky (Closely WatchedTrains, 1965) and the highly regarded film version (1967), Hrabal's career was interrupted. The fall of the Dubcek government in 1968 led to renewed literary repression; Hrabal's books were destroyed and he was not allowed to publish


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until, in 1976, he publicly promised to support the government; since then censored versions of his new work have been published, along with continuing samizdat circulation of the full texts. According to Michael Heim, Hrabal is "a conscious surrealist, a follower of the strong Czech surrealist movement that survived the Second World War and has remained active to this day" (201). In 1982 he completed a trilogy of novels about his childhood, A Little City by the Water,the so-called Nymburker Cycle, of which I want to discuss the second volume Krasosmutneni(1979). This volume, the censored version of the 1973 original Postriziny, was translated into German under the title Schintrauer (which I read). The strong autobiographical basis of the novel and the many correspondences in the authors' personal histories tend to overshadow any possible influence from Bruno Schulz. Yet the congruities between Schintrauer and the fiction of the Polish author are so striking that a juxtaposition of their work seems justified. Schintrauer is narrated by a boy whose eccentric father is the manager of a brewery where his mother's flamboyant brother, Uncle Pepin, also works, when not enthusiastically pursuing the local ladies. This lusty uncle appears in other works as well. The book is structured like Schulz's two volumes, a loose collection of twentythree episodes. While some describe a particular incident in the life of the parents or of Uncle Pepin, others are devoted to a lyrical description of the boy's immersion in the locale: along the river, in the orchards, or in the great labyrinthine buildings of the brewery. Like Schulz's Joseph, the child is mainly a passive observer of the exploits of family adults, particularly his father and uncle. The other two volumes of the trilogy are narrated by the boy's mother, thus breaking with Schulz's standard narrative perspective. The father owns a Czech-made motorcycle and spends every Saturday disassembling it to find out why it runs poorly. Since he uses a hammer and chisel for this task, the disassembly process requires the entire night. He regularly seeks a helper in the city, and soon all male inhabitants have learned to flee at his approach late each week. Curiously, when he has bought a faultlessly operating vehicle he continues the weekly dissection, now in an attempt to find out why it works so well. These elaborate comic sequences recall Schulz's portrayal of the father as a mad which describes the father's scientist in Ptaki (The Birds). The chapter of Schiontrauer obsession, "Der entweihte Verteiler" ("The Defiled Distributor") includes other Schulz parallels: it begins with a series of modern inventions designed to make life easier, which either do not function at all or are extremely hazardous. So also in Kometa (The Comet) the fashionable products of modern technology, like the bicycle, are ridiculed. The chapter also portrays the father working at night on his business ledgers which become a work of art, as did Mr. Jacob's in several of Schulz's stories. Hrabal's father-figure
. .preferred to make his entries in the brewery books in the evening or at night, then he sat under the lowered lamp, the great order book opened, his sleeves rolled up, beginning every entry with a capital letter that he first shaped in the air-and suddenly skillfully set down on paper. The rest of the entry he wrote carefully and quietly, only the feather pen scratched, out of which one letter after the other, one numeral after the other flowed, as if by itself (59-60), my translation, from the German version). Opposed to the drastic, often hilarious exploits of adults, mainly father and uncle, are lyric idylls in which the boy communes alone with nature or explores his home

Bruno Schulz and World Literature


environs; Schulz's Joseph also alternates between the portrayal of the grotesque adult world and his own private universe. Like Joseph, Hrabal's child has little contact with other children. The chapter "Die StraBenbeleuchtung" ("the Street Illumination") describes the boy's fascination with gas lanterns and the ritual of their nightly lighting by Mr. Rambousek. The metaphorical descriptions, personification of the lamps, the visual aspect of play between light and dark evoke a beautiful, magical, hushed urban landscape, through which the boy moves with childish naive wonder, but also with ironic social commentary, the combination we meet so often in Schulz's prose. In "Ksiega" ("The Book") Schulz writes of backward peasants who, when they have written a letter, "entrusted it reluctantly to a letter box, which they then struck with their fists, as if to wake it up" (7). Hrabal's gas lanterns are personified in the same way: For whensuch a gas lanternwas awakenedby the pole I found that it rattledfirstlike an old clock, then clearedits throat,coughedand rubbedits eyes, as I do everymorningwhen I get up, becausethe lightstill bothersme (94, my translation). The surrealist impulse of such metaphors, which links the two authors, stems from a childlike imagination and from the notion that the world of inanimate objects is actually full of hidden spirits. When Gibian said of Hrabal, that "his works rely heavily on a flood of language, encrusted with metaphors and conceits. . .a mixture of rhetorical, mostly oral devices: lyrical apostrophes, far-fetched similes, almost baroque conceits" (162), of course applies almost as well to the fiction of Schulz. The distinction is that Hrabal displays more of an "urban oral folklore element" (Heim, 205) than Schulz. A model for many of Hrabal's sketches or vignettes is the hospodsky kec, the tall tale or joke told in a tavern. Hrabal is earthier and more brutal than the gentle Schulz; Gibian refers to Hrabal's "gargantuan feasts" and to his "carnivalization of love" (163). This Rabelaisian spirit is foreign to Bruno Schulz, whose fiction never enters a tavern or a dance hall. Another common element, shared also by other surrealists, is the use of elements of myth or religion in their texts. In relating incidents of everyday life analogies are drawn to the Bible or classical mythology. Both authors see the quotidian world as a manifestation of eternally fixed and recurrent human situations. This had been anticipated by Schulz in his choice of character names; he selected the name Joseph for his surrogate with an eye to his father's real and fictional name Jakob, creating an allusion to the Old Testament story of Joseph which he exploits periodically throughout his stories. The major mythic materials of metamorphosis, a visit to the underworld ("Sanatorium pod klepsydr4"), or the mythical origins of the hero ("Ksiega" or "Genialna epoka" ["The Age of Genius"]) are all central to Schulz's fiction. As Gibian points out, in Hrabal's fiction "a small town anecdote becomes a mini-myth" (165). In The Haircutting an officer caught in bed with another man's wife leaps from the window, inadvertently planting a willow twig stuck in his boot. This grows into a huge willow tree which shelters and dominates the house. So the implicit fecundity and the sensual beauty of the lover's tryst is embodied and memorialized in this bizarre mythical manner. On the other hand, the anecdote also captures the ambience of the barroom story, that hospodskj kec so remote from the spirit of Bruno.Schulz.


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The parallels in imagery and metaphor may be readily explained by a common allegiance to Surrealism, plus personal traits, like a love for nature, which happen to correspond. Even the similarities in plot and incident may be ascribed to their similar origins as sons of the bourgeoisie in small-town settings of Eastern Europe early in the twentieth century. In that world there must have been many a flamboyant father whose bizarre obsessions fascinated his sensitive, introverted son; in Hrabal's novel the father figure is doubled by the presence of the lusty uncle, a Falstaff who boasts of his apocryphal heroism as a soldier of Franz Joseph in his youth. Around the respectable inner family there is a retinue of servants and other lower-class persons, who fascinate the somewhat inhibited boy narrators. A fetish figure like Schulz's Adela is not present in Hrabal's novel, but individual incidents show the same enchantment with the mysterious sexuality of the adult woman from the working class. Thus, in "Schafsnasen" (a flower name) Hrabal's surrogate boy follows an office worker, whose liaisons with her lover he speculates about. When he observes her in her bath engaged in masturbation, he becomes sexually aroused himself. Although Hrabal is more earthy and explicit than Schulz, the motif of adolescent voyeurism is the same. While the quite different authors Hrabal and Schulz thus present boys quite distinctive in personality, the similar social and family environments of their two childhood worlds create numerous parallels in their narrated experiences. In each case the process of maturation si suspended for the length of the work; the boys are unchanged by the significant episodes they observe or pass through, locked eternally in a childhood universe. After the picaresque series of experiences they do not go out into the adult world, as in a Bildungsroman.This juvenile realm is Bruno Schulz's only fictional territory while for Hrabal the elegy to childhood is but one specific theme in his work. He and his protagonists are more often adults in the big city, Prague, among alcoholics and prostitutes. But in Schontrauer at least, Hrabal approaches the world of Schulz-nostalgic reminiscences of a perfectly conserved childhood world. As we note the remarkable comparisons between Hrabal's (and Kis's) works and those of Schulz, we might, rather than gasp at every possibility of direct influence, recognize that the Polish author's work is not as eccentric or unique as it might appear, but rather has a distinctive place in a wider literary setting, that of European Surrealism, with roots in Symbolism and Expressionism.
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The prominent contemporary American writer Cynthia Ozick makes a different use of Bruno Schulz. Rather than writing like him in language, imagery, and situation, she writes about him; that is, she uses the historical figure of the author Bruno Schulz as the starting point for her novel, The Messiah of Stockholm (1987). The idea for this novel came to Ozick during a visit to Stockholm in 1984, when a rumor circulated that Schulz's lost Messiah manuscript had been found there. The central character, Lars Andemening, is an eccentric, unsuccessful book reviewer for a Stockholm newspaper, specializing in the avant-garde fiction of Eastern Europe. Of uncertain, perhaps Polish refugee origin, he becomes convinced that he is an illegitimate son of Bruno Schulz. Thus, a fictional character imagines himself to be the son of an historical person. He studies the Polish language; through an

Bruno Schulz and World Literature


emigre bookstore owner he acquires various documents and art works from Schulz's life. Finally he is shown an alleged copy of Schulz's lost manuscript, The Messiah, which has been brought to Sweden by another self-designated child of the author, who calls herself Adela. This was the name of the servant girl who dominated the family household in the stories of Schulz; however, the history and personality of Ozick's Adela have little to do with the Schulzian original. Neither in the life records nor the fiction of Bruno Schulz is there any suggestion that the author fathered any children, although we know from his correspondence that the author, unlike his fictional representative Joseph, had passionate relationships with more than one woman. Granted, the "children" of Schulz in Ozick's novel are only self-proclaimed offspring for whom Schulz bears no responsibility. Yet it is somewhat disturbing that Schulz, whose surrogate is the son Joseph with his father-fixation, here in Ozick's fantasy himself becomes a father. As Kafka is often thought of as the eternal bachelor, so Schulz is properly seen as the quintessential son.4 The whole Messiah plot turns out to have been an elaborate deception, the text a forgery, which the bookstore owner, her husband, and daughter contrived to create a literary sensation, hoping that the mad book reviewer would promote their spurious text into a best seller. In the confusion Lars burns the sole copy of The Messiah, so that the authenticity of the manuscript is never really disproved. In disgust Lars now gives up his role as son of Bruno Schulz, his interest in the esoteric literature of Eastern Europe, including Danilo Kig, and becomes a successful reviewer of popular fiction. Among the Schulziana which the bookstore owner provides to prepare Lars for the great lost text are drawings and letters and a copy of the Polish translation of Der Prozefi attributed to Schulz, which Lars rejects because he doesn't like seeing his adopted father "in the role of a dummy on Franz Kafka's lap" (33). As noted above, Cynthia Ozick does not write in the manner of Bruno Schulz; aside from direct quotations, her main effort to evoke the author's voice comes in a summary of the alleged Messiah manuscript, soon to be burned and lost forever. Janet Malcolm in The New Yorkercharacterizes this description and paraphrase as a "stiff, cerebral, didactic piece of surrealism,"which shows that "it could not possibly have been written by Schulz." I personally concur with Malcolm's judgment; my excitement at discovering this attempt by a major contemporary figure of American letters to revive a neglected genius was dissipated by her recapitulation of the lost manuscript. Like a bad translation, it violates the natural perimeters of the author's universe: childhood in the family, the magical locale of the small town Drohobych, with its mad collections of relatives, shop assistants, and firemen, not to mention the suffering souls imprisoned in tailors' dummies or figures from a wax museum. Ozick's Adela has only the name of the inimitable Schulzian housemaid. Yet Harold Bloom (and others) view Ozick's description of the Messiah text, and the entire novel, as a great masterpiece, with Ozick herself emerging as a true daughter of Schulz and The Messiah of Stockholm a fitting replacement for the lost text (36). Ozick dedicated her novel to the author Philip Roth, the editor of the Penguin East European series which published Schulz's two volumes. When Ozick reviewed The Street of Crocodiles in 1977, Roth sent her two original drawings by Schulz as thanks. Roth himself had written a story with a theme similar to Ozick's Stockholm


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Messiah; Prague Orgy (1985) portrays a writer trying to locate a collection of unpublished Yiddish stories by a Holocaust victim. Without specific reference to Bruno Schulz by name, Roth uses reported details of the death of Schulz for his fictional character, namely that Sisovsky, protected by an SS officer, was the victim of a second German officer seeking revenge for the killing of his own Jewish protege. So Bruno Schulz's way of dying was borrowed to be employed for a fictional writer-victim of the Holocaust. Since Sisovsky's life and purported works in no way resemble Schulz's, the use of the Schulzian death-motif becomes a kind of macabre insider joke, only for those who know of Bruno Schulz and his end. Bloom sees Schulz as a catalyst in the evolution of Ozick's intellectual and artistic development, moving her closer to Philip Roth and away from Bernard Malamud. While this may be true, Bloom's characterization of The Messiah of Stockholm as a very Schulzian book in substance as well as spirit reveals no deep understanding of Schulz's fiction. Ozick's cynical, dissatisfied intrigants, although perhaps of Polish origin, are far removed indeed from the magic and mystery of Drohobych, the wonderful child Joseph, and his flamboyant dying father.
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The Israeli author David Grossman was born in 1954, the child of Holocaust survivors who settled in Israel; writing in the Hebrew language, he is considered by some to be the leading Israeli writer of his generation. His second novel, See Under:Love ('Ayen 'erekh: ahahvah, 1989), like Ozick's Messiah of Stockholm, is not simply influenced by the writing of Schulz, but uses Bruno Schulz as a fictional character in the work itself. Like Cynthia Ozick, his eastern European Jewish family background or ancestry creates an initial post-Holocaust affinity with Bruno Schulz, the luminous author who died at German hands with millions of his often anonymous ethnic brothers. One of the four, largely autonomous, sections of the novel even deals with a writer (of trivial children's stories) who like Bruno is caught up in the extermination program. Anshel Wasserman has long abandoned his series of installment novels for juveniles about the heroic band called the Children of the Heart. These were so popular that they were translated from Yiddish into many European languages, including German, where they provided the passionate reading material of many a German child. Among these were Herr Neigel, the commandant of the concentration or extermination camp to which the aging writer is sent. After seeing his daughter and wife perish, Anshel in a fairy tale mode proves personally invulnerable, magically surviving the gas chambers and execution by shooting, thus attracting the attention of the camp commander, who recognizes him and forces him to create a daily sequel to his childhood adventure series. Since Wasserman desires only his own death, the stories are told not to prolong his life, as in the case of Scheherazade, but in exchange for daily attempts at execution. (This Holocaust role-reversal, where the Jewish victim gains control over his Nazi oppressor, is displayed in a setting long after the war in Jurek Becker's novel Bronsteins Kinder, 1986.) Wassermann survives the war, for he turns up in Israel in another section of the novel, as the now senile great-uncle of the autobiographical narrator, Momik, who then deciphers the old man's Yiddish ramblings as being the continued retelling of the children's story to the concentration camp commandant of many years before.

Bruno Schulz and World Literature


It is possible, but by no means necessary, to relate the history of Wasserman, a Polish Jewish writer perversely forced to perform for his German oppressors, to the actual life of Bruno Schulz, who, prior to being shot on the street by a German officer, also worked as an artist in order to survive both the Russian and the German occupations of his native Galicia. Likewise, the nine-year old Momik refracts some of the childhood world of Schulz's autobiographical Joseph. Momik, an only child, tries to decipher the cryptic references to the homeland and the Holocaust made by his parents and other survivors in the community; his search for the truth echoes Joseph's pursuit of The Book. Finally Momik creates a "Nazi Beast" which lives in his own cellar and has to be fed his favorite food, a Jew. Momik's parents, like those of Bruno Schulz and his character Joseph, jointly run a failing business enterprise; instead of a textile shop, they have a lottery ticket booth, where they unnecessarily remain cooped up together for endless days. In another part of the novel, the now adult great-nephew of the concentration camp story-teller, himself a poet, is given a copy of Schulz's The Street of Crocodiles (on May 25, 1980) by his mistress. He becomes totally enamored of the Polish author. Whereas Ozick's protagonist Lars decides he is the unrecognized son of Bruno Schulz, Grossman's hero Momik fantasizes, also without any concrete evidence from Schulz's biography that Schulz did not die in the streets of Drohobych, but travelled to the city of Danzig, visiting an art exhibition devoted to the paintings of the Norwegian Edvard Munch. Thereupon Schulz leaped into the sea and began a new existence in the company of a giant shoal of salmon, himself gradually assuming piscine characteristics. The allegorical application of this fantastic continuation of the Schulz "life-story" is not clear. The ocean is personified as the erotic partner, or worshipper, of Bruno the nonconformist artist, in preference to her sister the land, the natural home of more prosaic souls. yet Bruno joins the great fish shoal, achieving a greater sense of community than during his real life in Drohobych, and thereby surrendering his artistic individuality. He even has the opportunity to become the leader of the salmon migration, a role unthinkable for the poet Bruno Schulz whom we know. While large portions of the salmon tribe have been lured to death by a false leader, the others will fight their way up ancestral streams to reproduce and die. Any interpretation of this fantasy continuation of Bruno's life must assume the salmon to stand for the Jewish people, to which both Schulz and Grossman belonged, and necessarily also to allegorize the fate of European Jews in the Holocaust, for Bruno enters the sea at Danzig in 1942. The great migrations of the salmon tribe are not the result of persecution in the various regions of the sea, but are self-motivated, instinctive, and necessary. Although fisherman and sharks decimate their numbers, they are destroyed as much by their own leaders, and most must die in any case to regenerate the race in streams far inland. Thus, there is no special enemy, like the Nazis, bent on genocide, and Bruno's role in the random sweeps across the ocean has no visible allegorical application. The process through which the salmon are going is normal, the same as always, whereas the fate of Bruno Schulz and his Jewish brethren in the Holocaust is unique and climactic, and the poet had no significant role to play in it, as he does in Grossman's fantasy. Before jumping into the sea at Danzig, Bruno deposited the manuscript of his novel, The Messiah, in the water; thus it is available to be read in the oceanic regions and is not totally lost, as in reality. The narrator, who is named Neuman


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instead of Grossman, makes a trip to Danzig in July 1981, following the imaginary path of Bruno in 1942, and enters the sea at Narvia repeatedly to communicate with the sea-spirit who maintains a kind of passionate nostalgia about her lost Bruno. Neuman himself gains access to the lost manuscript and to many secrets of Schulz while swimming in the sea off Danzig, but also on the beach in distant Tel Aviv. The characters of Schulz reappear, from Uncle Jerome to Dodo to the seductive Adela in story quotations, paraphrase, and new incident and description. In Danzig the narrator speculates: "who could say what he (Schulz) would demand of me in return for re-creating his lost work, The Messiah?"(108). Thus, both Ozick and Grossman revive the famous lost manuscript in an ephemeral or insubstantial form, while continuing the biographical story; Ozick invents a son (and a daughter) of the author, both impostors, while Grossman creates an alternate ending to the life of Bruno, replacing the prosaic gruesomeness of Nazi genocide with a mythic escape into the sea. While Lars collects Schulziana and temporarily has access to the lost Messiah, Neuman follows his infatuation with the author by practical attempts to become his successor; he says "I know the book by heart" (91), he copies long passages of Schulz's published stories into his notebooks, and is able to create a very credible Schulzian prose, for example in the description of the mythological lady of the sea: I discovered that my old manof the sea was actually-a woman.A woman'spsychein a body
of water. An immense blue mollusc, asleep most of the time because it can't satisfy its own immense demands for energy, enveloped by the runny, medusa-like essence of her infinitesimal soul, surging, billowing, a thousand petticoats in green white and blue; and she sleeps, deep in one of a thousand lunar basins, her face upturned like a giant sunflower and her liquid body softly sustaining the reflexive motion in wavy contractions, foamy shivers, surrealistic reveries, fashioning fantastic creatures out of her depths. . . (108-09)

The passage is obviously based on Schulz's description of an embryo in a chimney in "Kometa."In addition Grossman creates a variety of contacts and parallels to the life and art of Bruno Schulz, himself repeating the last journey of his fictitious Bruno to Danzig and the sea, as well as inventing a Galician great-uncle who was an author publishing during Bruno's lifetime. That this author is a writer of banal adventure stories for children reflects ironically on the career of Bruno himself, who was obsessed with the evocation of his own childhood. Wasserman himself was criticized as a plagiarist by a critic named Schapira, just as Grossman imagines he could be condemned for imitating Bruno. Grossman, or Neuman, identifies with a specific Schulz character, Shlomo the thief, who visits the child Joseph in "Genialna epoka" ("The Age of Genius"), admiring his art work, but stealing articles of clothing and the shoes of the absent servant girl Adela. In this refraction, Neuman as Shlomo pretends to be the epigone, stealing the language and mythology of Schulz's autobiographical child Joseph (165 f). For later writers like Ozick and Grossman, the manuscript of the Messiah takes on the dimensions of the lost childhood text, The Book, from Schulz's story of that name ("Ksigga").The historical manuscript/mythical lost text of childhood is found in many forms in the novel: lost but accessible in the sea; in the published children's stories of Grandfather (actually Great-uncle) Wasserman, a yellowed page of which little Momik finds among his relatives' possessions; in their continuation in the

Bruno Schulz and World Literature


forced concentration-camp sequel to the commandant; in the reconstructions of the child Momik from his grandfather's Yiddish mumblings; in the writing of the adult Momik Neuman (under Schulzian influence) in Israel and in the sea; finally, in the novel See Under:Love itself. Neuman's infatuation with Schulz's style is summarized retrospectively: And I also wantedto tell you that I'm backto my own self again.Thatis, I'm backto my own style. The style my poems were writtenin. And Brunois slowly lettinggo of my pen. He's peelingoff. I have only a few notebooksleft now whichnobodywouldeverbe ableto identify positivelyas eitherhis or mine.(99) The name Danzig suggests another probable literary influence on this novel, Giinter Grass, whose fiction often commemorates his childhood in that city during the Nazi period. Specifically, in the story Katz und Maus, the young German soldier Mahlke deserts and swims out into the Baltic from the beach of his boyhood home to a half-submerged Polish mine-sweeper and is never seen again; so, in Grossman's revision of his life, Bruno Schulz disappears at the same spot, in autumn, two (fictional) years earlier. The Grass reference is reinforced by the analogy to his Die Blechtrommel (1959), in which Oskar Matzerath's growth is suspended at age three for the entire Hitler era; the final section of Grossman's novel, in a unique encyclopedia form, is devoted to the life of Kazik, the child of aged Jews in the Warsaw ghetto period (birth 5/4/43), who lives an entire human life-span accelerated into twenty-four hours, while never growing larger than a toddler.
* * *

We have identified or proposed four examples of the influence of Schulz on later writers. Danilo Kis shows himself to be a true adept of the master, stylizing or recasting his own personal life story in the language, imagery, and obsessions of Schulz, with whom he of course became acquainted only as an adult. While some coincidence of autobiographical situation, such as revering a lost father, is perfectly conceivable, Kis's narration of personal experience in the voice of another artist is an amazing feat of intertextuality. Bohumil Hrabal, who may or may not know the fiction of Schulz, wrote at least one novel which shows a striking affinity with his work. Cynthia Ozick uses the reality of Bruno Schulz's life, as it has been stylized and mythologized by tradition, as a springboard for an invented story about a new collection of Holocaust refugees and survivors, and to clarify and elucidate her own relation to Jewish history and cultural traditions. Essentially. Schulz is a milestone in her own personal development, as expressed ironically through her grotesque surrogate Lars Andemening, rather than providing a resurrection of the artist Schulz, dead forty-five years, or one of his texts. This is of course a legitimate use of literature of the past, even if some critics suppose her to be more concerned than she is with the object (Schulz) than the subject (Ozick). Kis and Hrabal speak in the voice of Joseph the child; Ozick dramatizes the myth of the historical Schulz, its effect on persons who pretend to be his children or to possess the last great work he composed. In effect, creative attempts to extend or continue the Schulzian myth are attempted, but neither his new children nor his last text are authentic.


Slavic and East EuropeanJournal

Finally, the Israeli author David Grossman creates the most intimate and original relation to Schulz the artist, ignoring biographical fact to provide the Polish author with a more fitting mythopoeic ending in the sea and providing numerous analogies in his own life and in the lives of his relatives to Schulz's factual and fictional universes. For Grossman, the search for Schulz has both a commemorative historical dimension, and a rich spin-off of allusions and recreationsin contemporary life in Israel. Schulz's currentposition in world literature is not commensurate with the intrinsic qualities of the small but highly original body of texts he produced. This is only in part due to the fact that he wrote in one of the less widely known languages, and only in part due to the fact that World War Two and the Holocaust prematurely ended his literary career and his life. His late composition of a story in German, his contacts with Thomas Mann, Joseph Roth, and Italian editors, show his intention to break out of the relative obscurity of the Polish language.5 But, like others, his burgeoning reputation as a powerful new voice in Polish literature and his chance at a wide European audience was extinguished as a minor accident of the catastrophe of this bloodiest of wars. From this perspective his work may be seen as a precious relic of a buried community, the story of a child who both epitomized and transcended his doomed society. Viewed now long after his postwar rediscovery, Bruno Schulz may appear to some like the old man in "Samotnosc" ("Loneliness"), trapped in his nursery, the walled-in room of Jewish Galicia in the days of the Austrian Empire, an eradicated social universe far behind the Holocaust. "I must only imagine a door," says the old man, "a good old door like the one in the kitchen of my childhood." This door in fact exists in the unique poetic genius of Bruno Schulz, in his unforgettable visions: weed-choked back yards and long forgotten rooms, lazy firemen lusting after raspberry syrup, the incoherent, fearful dog-man of Sanatorium, the return of the crippled birds from his father's aviary. To respect Bruno Schulz for his Jewishness alone and his status as a victim, is to put him back behind the kitchen door of specific historical and cultural limitations, which he transcended in his small body of literary works, and, some would say, in his pictorial art as well. The Holocaust was not Schulz's subject, but only his fate-it was irrelevant to his art. As this study of his position in world literature has tried to delineate, Schulz's texts emerge out of a network of models and influences, some of which are significantly Jewish, like Kafka and Joseph Roth, but also from the European surrealist main-stream and from German establishment modernists like Thomas Mann and Rilke. Likewise he himself inspires and influences later writers, including Jewish ones conceivably attracted initially by his personal history and fate, like Ozick and Grossman, but who discover his genius as a innovator of imagery and creator of new linguistic landscapes. The sheer power and originality of Bruno Schulz's literary art transports him from the provincial, the neurotic, and the specifics of religious, national, and language background to an elite fellowship of modern artists, the international community I have tried to identify here. For those authors who come after him, the reaction of instant conversion or recognition of genius (described by Kis and Grossman), in which the reading of Schulz changes them radically as artists, is characteristic; he awakens a fascination which can also affect literary scholars and historians, and bodes well for his future place in the literary canon.

Bruno Schulz and World Literature NOTES


1 In "Servant Girls and Other Temptations" I compared the erotic patterns in the fiction of these two authors. 2 Ficowski believes that "Die Heimkehr" and letters from Schulz are contained in crates of unexamined materials in the Thomas Mann archive in Zurich, to which he was unable to gain access (1986, 58). The director of the archive, Professor Wysling, informed me that these materials are not contained in the collection (letter of April 26, 1988). 3 Roth offered to help arrange translations of Schulz's texts into major European languages, but gave his copy to an emigrant to Palestine, Saul Fryszman, who never completed the Hebrew translation (Ficowski, 1986, 58); an original work of fiction in Hebrew by David Grossman will be discussed below. 4 There is also a minor but revealing problem in geography. The manuscript is brought from Drohobych to Warsaw thirty years after the war by a widow seeking employment in the big city (76). Yet Drohobych is no longer part of Poland, having been incorporated into the Soviet Ukraine after World War Two. Citizens of the USSR do not casually seek new job opportunities in Poland today. It seems probable from this story detail that Ozick does not know that Drohobych is no longer in Poland. 5 On the other hand, Witold Gombrowicz lived in Argentina from 1939, published works in Spanish and thus maintained a certain visibility if not to say notoriety.

PRIMARY WORKS CITED All quotations from Bruno Schulz are from the New York Penguin editions: The Street of Crocodiles (1977) and Sanatorium under the Sign of the Hourglass (1979). Both volumes were translated by Celina Wieniewska. The originals are Sklepy cynamonowe(1934) and Sanatorium pod klepsydrq (1937), both published by R6j in Warsaw. Kometa (The Comet), published in WiadomosciLiterackie 35 (1938), is included in The Street of Crocodiles. Alain-Fournier, Henri. The Wanderer. (Le grand Meaulnes). Trans. Francoise Delisle. Garden City: Doubleday, 1953. Aragon, Louis. Nightwalker (Le Paysan de Paris). Trans. Frederick Brown. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1970. Grossman, David. See Under: Love. ('Ayen 'erekh: ahahvah). Trans. Betsy Rosenberg. New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Geroux, 1989. Hrabal, Bohumil. Schontrauer (Krasosmutneni). Trans. Franz Peter Ktinzel. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1983. Kis, Danilo. Garden,Ashes (Basta,pepeo). No translator named. London: Faber and Faber, 1985. Ozick, Cynthia. The Messiah of Stockholm. New York: Knopf, 1987. Proust, Marcel. Remembrance of Things Past (A la Recherche du temps perdu). Trans. C. K. Scott-Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin. New York. Random House, 1981. Volume One includes Swann's Wayand Withina Budding Grove;Volume Two includes Cities of the Plain. Roth, Philip. The Prague Orgy. London: Jonathan Cape, 1985. Walser, Robert. Das Gesamtwerk. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1978. Volume 10.



Bayley, John. Review of English translation of Sanatorium in New YorkReview of Books, July 20, 1978. Bloom, Harold. "The Book of the Father. The Messiah of Stockholm by Cynthia Ozick" in The New YorkTimes Book Review, March 22, 1987, 1, 35-6.


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Bondy, FranCois."Bruno Schulz der Demiurge" in Bruno Schulz: Die Zimtliidenund alle anderen Erzdhlungen,trans. Josef Hahn. Munich: Hanser, 1966, 343-50. Brown, Clarence. The Prose of Osip Mandelstam. Princeton: Princeton, 1965. Brown, Frederick. "Afterword" to Nightwalker (Le Paysan de Paris) by Louis Aragon, trans. Frederick Brown. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1970. Brown, Russell E. "Bruno Schulz and Franz Kafka: Servant Girls and Other Temptations" in Germano-Slavica6 (1988), 29-47. Chvatik, Kvetoslav. "Ein Meister der Postmoderne aus Prag: Bohumil Hrabal" in Literatur undKritik 215/216 (June/July 1987), 192-203. Croucher, Murlin. "Garden,Ashes by Danilo Kis." WorldLiterature Today 51 (1977), 1, 127. Ficowski, Jerzy. Regiony wielkiej herezji. Krak6w: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1967. Ficowski, Jerzy. Listy, Fragmenty. Krak6w: Wyd. Lit., 1984. Ficowski, Jerzy. Okolice sklepow cynamonowych.Krak6w: Wyd. Lit., 1986. Fowlie, Wallace. A Reading of Proust. Garden City: Anchor, 1964. Gibian, Geroge. "Forward Movement through Backward Glances: Soviet Russian and Czech Fiction (Hrabal, Syomen, Granin)" in Fiction and Drama in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, ed. Henrik Birnbaum and Thomas Eekman. Columbus: Slavica, 1980, 161-75. Girard, Rene. "Introduction" to Proust: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1962, 4. Gombrowicz, Witold. Dziennik, 1953-1956. Paris: Instytut Literacki, 1957. Heim, Michael. "Hrabal's Aesthetic of the Powerful Experience" in Fiction and Drama in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, ed. Henrik Birnbaum and Thomas Eekman. Columbus: Slavica, 1980, 201-06. Karkowski, Czestaw. Kultura i krytyka inteligencji w tw6rczosci Brunona Schulza. Wroclaw etc.: Zaklad Narodowy imienia Ossolifiskich Wydawnictwo, 1979. Kott, Jan. "Tydziefi paryski" in Kuinica 1 (1946), 40. Kruntorad, Paul. "Bruno Schulz. Ein Vergleich mit Franz Kafka" in Wortin der Zeit 3 (March, 1965), 9-19. Lindenbaum, Shalom. "W poszukiwaniu uznania. Bruno Schulz a Josef Roth" in Tworczosc 35 (1979), 3, 137-39. Malcolm, Janet. "Graven Images" in The New Yorker,June 8, 1987, 102-104. Mann, Heinz Herbert. "Die Welt im Nebengleis. Zu Bruno Schulz' Prosa." in Phantastik in Literatur und Kunst, ed. Christian W. Thomsen and Jens Malte Fischer. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1980, 299-313. Orr, Leonard. "The 'Kafkaesque' Fantastic in the Fiction of Kafka and Bruno Schulz in Newsletter of the Kafka Society of America 6 (1982), 34-40. Pritchett, V. S. "Comic Genius. The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz" in New YorkReview of Books, April 14, 1977. Sen, Colleen Taylor. "Bruno Schulz's Poetic Novel Cinnamon Shops" in Polish Experimental Fiction 1900-1939. New York: Columbia University dissertation (unpublished), 1972, 263-330. Speina, Jerzy. Bankructworealnosci. Proza BrunonaSchulza. Warsaw and Poznan, 1974. Taylor, Colleen M. "Childhood Revisited: The Writings of Bruno Schulz" in The Slavic and East EuropeanJournal 13 (1969), 455-71. Updike, John. "Introduction." to Sanatorium under the Sign of the Hourglass, transl. Celina Wieniewska. New York: Penguin, 1979. Wirth, Andrzej. "Nachwort zur ersten deutschen Ausgabe" reprinted in Bruno Schulz, Die Zimtliden und alle anderenErzihlungen. Munich: Hanser, 1967, 336-42. Witkiewicz, St. I. "Tw6rczo6s literacka Brunona Schulza" in Pion 34-35 (1935), 3, 5. Witte, Bernd. "Literarischer Surrealismus im europaischen Kontext: Aragon, Benjamin, Mandelstam" in Avant/Garde 0 (1987), 95-103.

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