Bruno Schulz

Infobox Writer
name = Bruno Schulz

caption = Self-portrait
birthdate = birth date|1892|7|12|mf=y
birthplace = Drohobycz
deathdate = death date and age|1942|11|19|1892|7|12|mf=y
deathplace = Drohobycz
occupation = writer, graphic artist, literary critic, art teacher
nationality = flagicon|Poland Polish
genre = novel, short story
movement = Modernism, precursor to surrealism
notableworks = Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass, The Street of Crocodiles
influences = Franz Kafka, Rainer Maria Rilke, Thomas Mann
influenced = Witold Gombrowicz, Eustachy Rylski, Jerzy Kosiński, Jerzy Prokopiuk, Stanisław Lem

Bruno Schulz (July 12, 1892 – November 19, 1942) was a Polish writer, graphic artist and literary critic, who is widely regarded as one of the great Polish-language prose stylists of the 20th century. Schulz was born, and spent his entire life in Drohobycz, Austro-Hungarian Empire, in the province of Galicia, to assimilated Jewish parents. Today, Drohobycz is located in the modern state of Ukraine.


Bruno Schulz was the son of cloth merchant Jakub Schulz and Henrietta, née Kuhmerker. [cite journal| last = Wójcikowski| first = Grzegorz| authorlink =| coauthors =| title = Rocznica urodzin i śmierci Brunona Schulza| journal = Forum Polonijne| volume = 3| issue = 2007| pages = 38| publisher =| date =| url =| doi =| id = ISSN 1234-2807| accessdate = ] At a very early age, he developed an interest in the arts. He studied at a gymnasium in Drohobycz from 1902 to 1910, and proceeded to study architecture at Lwów University. In 1917 he briefly studied architecture in Vienna. After World War I, the region of Galicia which included Drohobycz became a Polish territory. In the postwar period, Schulz came to teach drawing in a Polish gymnasium, from 1924 to 1941. His employment kept him in his hometown, although he disliked his profession as a schoolteacher, apparently maintaining it only because it was his sole means of income. [Schulz, Bruno. "The Street of Crocodiles". 1992, page 15.]

The author nurtured his extraordinary imagination in a swarm of identities and nationalities: a Jew who thought and wrote in Polish, was fluent in German, and immersed in Jewish culture though unfamiliar with the Yiddish language. [ "Who Owns Bruno Schulz?"] , by Benjamin Paloff Boston Review (December 2004/January 2005) ] Yet there was nothing cosmopolitan about him; his genius fed in solitude on specific local and ethnic sources. He preferred not to leave his provincial hometown, which over the course of his life belonged to four countries. His adult life was often perceived by outsiders as that of a hermit: uneventful and enclosed.

Schulz seems to have become a writer by chance, as he was discouraged by influential colleagues from publishing his first short stories. His aspirations were refreshed, however, when several letters that he wrote to a friend, in which he gave highly original accounts of his solitary life and the details of the lives of his fellow citizens, were brought to the attention of the novelist Zofia Nałkowska. She encouraged Schulz to have them published as short fiction, and "The Cinnamon Shops" ("Sklepy Cynamonowe") was published in 1934; in English-speaking countries, it is most often referred to as "The Street of Crocodiles", a title derived from one of the chapters. This novel-memoir was followed three years later by "Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass" ("Sanatorium Pod Klepsydrą"). The original publications were fully illustrated by Schulz himself; in later editions of his works, however, these illustrations are often left out or are poorly reproduced. He also helped his fiancée translate Franz Kafka's "The Trial" into Polish, in 1936. In 1938, he was awarded the Polish Academy of Literature's prestigious Golden Laurel award.

The outbreak of World War II in 1939 caught Schulz living in Drohobycz, which was occupied by the Soviet Union. There are reports that he worked on a novel called "The Messiah", but no trace of this manuscript survived his death. Following the German invasion of the Soviet Union, as a Jew he was forced to live in the ghetto of Drohobycz, but he was temporarily protected by Felix Landau, a Gestapo officer who admired his drawings. During the last weeks of his life, Schulz painted a mural in Landau's home in Drohobycz, in the style with which he is identified. Shortly after completing the work, Schulz was bringing home a loaf of bread when he was shot and killed by a German officer, Karl Günther, a rival of his protector (Landau had killed Günther's "personal Jew," a dentist). Over the years his mural was covered with paint and forgotten.


Schulz's body of written work is rather small: "The Street of Crocodiles", "Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass" and a few other compositions that the author did not add to the first edition of his short story collection. A collection of Schulz's letters were published in Polish in 1975, entitled "The Book of Letters", and a number of critical essays Schulz wrote for various newspapers are also available. Several of Schulz's works have been lost, including some short stories from the early 1940s that the author had sent to be published in magazines, and his final unfinished novel "The Messiah".

A new edition of Schulz's stories was published in 1957, leading to French, German, and later English translations.
Cynthia Ozick's 1987 novel, "The Messiah of Stockholm", contributed to popularizing Schulz's work. Her text concerns a Swiss man convinced that he is the son of Schulz, who comes into possession of what he believes to be a manuscript of Schulz's final project, "The Messiah". Schulz's presence also informs Israeli novelist David Grossman's 1989 novel "See Under: Love." In a chapter entitled "Bruno," the narrator imagines Schulz embarking on a phantasmagoric sea journey rather than remaining in Drohobycz to be shot. [David Grossman, "See Under: Love." Trans. Betsy Rosenberg. New York: Washington Square Press, 1989.]
* "The Street of Crocodiles". New York: Walker and Company, 1963. (A translation by Celina Wieniewska of "Sklepy Cynamonowe (Cinnamon Shops)".)
* "Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass" New York: Penguin, 1988. (A translation by Celina Wieniewska of "Sanatorium Pod Klepsydrą", with an introduction by John Updike.) ISBN 0-14-005272-0
* "The Complete Fiction of Bruno Schulz". New York: Walker and Company, 1989. (Combination of the prior two collections.) ISBN 0-8027-1091-3
* "Muse & Messiah: The Life, Imagination & Legacy of Bruno Schulz" by Brian R.Banks (Inkermen Press UK 2006)

Mural controversy

In February 2001, after a long search, Benjamin Geissler, a German documentary filmmaker, discovered the mural Schulz had created for Landau. The meticulous task of restoration was begun by Polish conservation workers, who informed Yad Vashem about the findings. In May of that year representatives of Yad Vashem in Israel were allowed to come to Drohobycz to examine the mural. They removed five fragments of the mural, which had already been restored, smuggled them out of the country, and transported them to Jerusalem. Geissler has documented the search, the finding and restoration, as well as the destruction of the mural in the film entitled “Finding Pictures”. [ “Finding Pictures”] , film by Benjamin Geissler]

International controversy ensued. [ "Bruno Schulz's Frescoes"] , by Mark Baker, M.B.B. Biskupski, John Connelly, Ronald E. Coons et al. The New York Review of Books (Volume 48, Number 19 • November 29, 2001) ] [ "All Things Considered"] , NPR (Monday, July 9, 2001) ] While Yad Vashem claims that parts of the mural were legally purchased, Ukraine has officially stated that they were removed without authority or export licenses. As of 2007, parts of the mural are in storage in Yad Vashem, and their status is being negotiated. [ [ מסתמן הסדר שיאפשר הצגת ציורי ברונו שולץ בי-ם - חדשות -הארץ ] ] The fragments left in place by Yad Vashem have since been restored and, after touring Polish museums, are now part of the collection at the Bruno Schulz Museum in Drohobycz.

This gesture by Yad Vashem precipitated much public outrage in Poland and Ukraine, where Schulz is a beloved figure.

[F] or Poles in particular, Yad Vashem’s actions... suggest that dying because one is a Jew negates the relevance of having lived largely as a Pole—and, harsher still, that Jewishness and Polishness have been deemed fundamentally irreconcilable. In response to mounting international outrage, Yad Vashem posted a public statement on its Website—one of very few official comments on the incident—asserting a "moral right" to Schulz’s work.

Film Adaptations

Schulz's work has provided the basis for two films: Wojciech Has's "The Hour-Glass Sanatorium" (1973), drawing from a dozen of his stories and emphasizing the unforgettably dreamlike quality of his writings; and a short stop-motion animated film called "Street of Crocodiles" (1986) by Stephen and Timothy Quay.

Theatatrical Adaptations

A play based on "Cinnamon Shops" was performed at the Jewish Culture Festival in Karkow in 2008 bu - theater performance based on a novel by Bruno Schulz, directed by Frank Soehnle, performed by the Puppet Theater from Białystok.


Further reading

* Mortkowicz-Olczakowa, Hanna (1961). "Bunt wspomnień." Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy.

External links

* (in the original Polish)
* [ Translations by John Curran Davis]
* [ The Art of Bruno Schulz]
* [ Bruno Schulz's drawing and graphic works at]
* [ Bruno Schulz -]
* [ Biography and Bibliography]
* [ Republic of Dreams: a new performance by Double Edge Theatre]
* [ Bruno Schulz's Poetics: Quotes from his Letters and Other Writings]
* [ A Journey into the Underworld: An essay on the film "The Hour-Glass Sanatorium"]
* " [ The Street of Crocodiles] " an animated film by the Brothers Quay.
* [ Photo - Find A Grave]
* [ Documentary "Finding Pictures" of Benjamin Geissler]

NAME=Schulz, Bruno
SHORT DESCRIPTION=Polish novelist and painter
DATE OF BIRTH=July 12 1892
PLACE OF BIRTH=Drohobycz, Austria-Hungary
DATE OF DEATH=November 19 1942

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