Bruno Schulz

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Bruno Schulz
Bruno Schulz, portrait.jpg
Born(1892-07-12)July 12, 1892
Drohobych, Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria
DiedNovember 19, 1942(1942-11-19) (aged 50)
Drohobycz, German occupied Poland
OccupationWriter, fine artist, literary critic, art teacher
GenreNovel, short story
Literary movement modernism, surrealism, magic realism
Notable works Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass , The Street of Crocodiles aka Cinnamon Shops

Bruno Schulz (July 12, 1892 – November 19, 1942) was a Polish Jewish writer, fine artist, literary critic and art teacher. [1] He is regarded as one of the great Polish-language prose stylists of the 20th century. In 1938, he was awarded the Polish Academy of Literature's prestigious Golden Laurel award. Several of Schulz's works were lost in the Holocaust, including short stories from the early 1940s and his final, unfinished novel The Messiah. Schulz was shot and killed by a German Nazi in 1942 while walking back home toward Drohobycz Ghetto with a loaf of bread.

Fine art art developed primarily for aesthetics

In European academic traditions, fine art is art developed primarily for aesthetics or beauty, distinguishing it from applied art, which also has to serve some practical function, such as pottery or most metalwork.

Literary criticism study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature

Literary criticism is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often influenced by literary theory, which is the philosophical discussion of literature's goals and methods. Though the two activities are closely related, literary critics are not always, and have not always been, theorists.

Polish Academy of Literature

The Polish Academy of Literature was one of the most important state institutions of literary life in the Second Polish Republic, operating between 1933–1939 with the headquarters in Warsaw. It was founded by the decree of the Council of Ministers of the Republic.

Contents

Biography

Schulz was born in Drohobych, Austrian Galicia, historically part of the Kingdom of Poland before the three partitions, and today part of Ukraine. After World War One, Drohobycz became part of the Lwów Voivodeship. Bruno Schulz was the son of cloth merchant Jakub Schulz and Henrietta née Kuhmerker. [2] At a very early age, he developed an interest in the arts. He attended Władysław Jagiełło Middle School in Drohobych from 1902 to 1910, graduating with honours. [3] Then he studied architecture at Lviv Polytechnic. His studies were interrupted by illness in 1911 but he resumed them in 1913 after two years of convalescence. In 1917 he briefly studied architecture in Vienna. At the end of World War I, when he was 26, Drohobycz became part of the newly reborn Polish Second Republic. Schulz returned to Władysław Jagiełło Middle School, teaching crafts and drawing from 1924 to 1941. His employment kept him in his hometown, although he disliked the teaching, apparently maintaining his job only because it was his sole source of income. [4] He also amused himself by telling his students stories during classes. [5]

Drohobych City of regional significance in Lviv Oblast, Ukraine

Drohobych is a city of regional significance in Lviv Oblast, Ukraine. It is the administrative center of Drohobych district. In 1939–1941 and 1944–1959 it was the center of Drohobych Oblast.

Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria former country

The Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, also known as Galicia or Austrian Poland, was established in 1772 as a crownland of the Habsburg Monarchy as a result of the First Partition of Poland. After the Third Partition of Poland in 1795, it became a Kingdom under Habsburg rule. In 1804 it became a crownland of the Austrian Empire. From 1867 it was an ethnic Pole-administered autonomous crownland under Cisleithanian Austria-Hungary, until its dissolution in 1918. The country was carved from the entire south-western part of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Among the many ceremonial titles of the princes of Hungary was "ruler of Galicia and Lodomeria". Following the Napoleonic Wars and the Congress of Vienna, the Austrian Empire ceded portions of Galicia to the Russian Empire, West Galicia and Tarnopol District.

Partitions of Poland forced partition of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

The Partitions of Poland were three partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth that took place toward the end of the 18th century and ended the existence of the state, resulting in the elimination of sovereign Poland and Lithuania for 123 years. The partitions were conducted by Habsburg Austria, the Kingdom of Prussia, and the Russian Empire, which divided up the Commonwealth lands among themselves progressively in the process of territorial seizures and annexations.

Schulz developed his extraordinary imagination in a swarm of identities and nationalities: he was a Jew who thought and wrote in Polish, was fluent in German, immersed in Jewish culture, yet unfamiliar with the Yiddish language. [6] He drew inspiration from specific local and ethnic sources, looking inward and close to home rather than to the world at large. Avoiding travel, he preferred to remain in his provincial hometown, which over the course of his life belonged to or was fought over by successive states: the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1792–1919); the short-lived West Ukrainian People's Republic (1919); the Second Polish Republic (1919–1939); the Soviet Ukraine from the invasion of Poland in 1939; and, during Operation Barbarossa, Nazi Germany after the German attack on the Soviet Union in 1941. His writings avoided explicit mention of world events of the time period.

Polish language West Slavic language spoken in Poland

Polish is a West Slavic language of the Lechitic group. It is spoken primarily in Poland and serves as the native language of the Poles. In addition to being an official language of Poland, it is also used by Polish minorities in other countries. There are over 50 million Polish language speakers around the world and it is one of the official languages of the European Union.

Jewish culture Culture of Jews and Judaism

Jewish culture is the culture of the Jewish people from the formation of the Jewish nation in ancient Israel through life in the diaspora and the modern state of Israel. Judaism guides its adherents in both practice and belief, so that it has been called not only a religion, but an orthopraxy. Not all individuals or all cultural phenomena can be classified as either "secular" or "religious", a distinction native to Enlightenment thinking.

West Ukrainian Peoples Republic self-proclaimed 1918-1919 country in Eastern Europe

The West Ukrainian People's Republic was a short-lived republic that existed from November 1918 to July 1919 in eastern Galicia. It included the cities of Lviv, Przemyśl, Ternopil, Kolomyia, Boryslav and Stanislaviv, and claimed parts of Bukovina and Carpathian Ruthenia. Politically, the Ukrainian National Democratic Party dominated the legislative assembly, guided by varying degrees of Greek Catholic, liberal and socialist ideology. Other parties represented included the Ukrainian Radical Party and the Christian Social Party.

Schulz was discouraged by influential colleagues from publishing his first short stories. However, his aspirations were refreshed 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 family and fellow citizens, were brought to the attention of the novelist Zofia Nałkowska. She encouraged Schulz to have them published as short fiction. They were published as The Cinnamon Shops (Sklepy Cynamonowe) in 1934. In English-speaking countries, it is most often referred to as The Street of Crocodiles , a title derived from one of its chapters. The Cinnamon Shops was followed three years later by Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass , (Sanatorium Pod Klepsydrą). The original publications were illustrated by Schulz; in later editions of his works, however, these illustrations were often left out or poorly reproduced. In 1936 he helped his fiancée, Józefina Szelińska, translate Franz Kafka's The Trial into Polish. In 1938, he was awarded the Polish Academy of Literature's prestigious Golden Laurel award.

Zofia Nałkowska Polish prose writer, dramatist, and essayist

Zofia Nałkowska was a Polish prose writer, dramatist, and prolific essayist. She served as the executive member of the prestigious Polish Academy of Literature (1933–1939) during the interwar period.

<i>The Street of Crocodiles</i>

The Street of Crocodiles is a 1934 collection of short stories written by Bruno Schulz. First published in Polish, the collection was translated into English by Celina Wieniewska in 1963.

<i>Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass</i> book by Bruno Schulz

Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass is the English title of Sanatorium Pod Klepsydrą, a novel by the Polish writer and painter Bruno Schulz, published in 1937.

Commemorative plaque at the Drohobycz Ghetto house of Bruno Schulz with text in Ukrainian, Polish and Hebrew DrohobyczTablicaSchulza.JPG
Commemorative plaque at the Drohobycz Ghetto house of Bruno Schulz with text in Ukrainian, Polish and Hebrew

In 1939, after the Nazi and Soviet invasion of Poland in World War II, Drohobych was occupied by the Soviet Union. At the time, Schulz was known to have been working on a novel called The Messiah, but no trace of the manuscript survived his death. When the Germans launched their Operation Barbarossa against the Soviets in 1941, they forced Schultz into the newly formed Drohobycz Ghetto along with thousands of other dispossessed Jews, most of whom perished at the Belzec extermination camp before the end of 1942. [7] [8] A Nazi Gestapo officer, Felix Landau, however, admired Schulz's artwork and extended him protection in exchange for painting a mural in his Drohobych residence. Shortly after completing the work in 1942, Schulz was walking home through the "Aryan quarter" with a loaf of bread, when another Gestapo officer, Karl Günther, [9] [10] shot him with a small pistol, killing him. [5] This murder was in revenge for Landau's having murdered Günther's own "personal Jew." Subsequently, Schulz's mural was painted over and forgotten – only to be rediscovered in 2001.

Soviet Union 1922–1991 country in Europe and Asia

The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.

Operation Barbarossa 1941 German invasion of the Soviet Union during the Second World War

Operation Barbarossa was the code name for the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, which started on Sunday, 22 June 1941, during World War II. The operation stemmed from Nazi Germany's ideological aims to conquer the western Soviet Union so that it could be repopulated by Germans (Lebensraum), to use Slavs as a slave labour force for the Axis war effort, to murder the rest, and to acquire the oil reserves of the Caucasus and the agricultural resources of Soviet territories.

Drohobycz Ghetto

Drohobycz Ghetto or Drohobych Ghetto was a Nazi ghetto in the city of Drohobych in Western Ukraine during World War II. The ghetto was liquidated mainly between February and November 1942, when most Jews were deported to the Belzec extermination camp.

Writings

Schulz's body of written work is 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 was published in Polish in 1975, entitled The Book of Letters, as well as a number of critical essays that Schulz wrote for various newspapers. Several of Schulz's works have been lost, including short stories from the early 1940s that the author had sent to be published in magazines, and his final, unfinished novel, The Messiah.

Both books were featured in Penguin's series "Writers from the Other Europe" from the 1970s. Philip Roth was the general editor, and the series included authors such as Danilo Kiš, Tadeusz Borowski, Jiří Weil, and Milan Kundera among others. [11]

An edition of Schulz's stories was published in 1957, leading to French, German, and later English translations which included The Street of Crocodiles , New York: Walker and Company, 1963 (translation by Celina Wieniewska of Sklepy Cynamonowe (Cinnamon Shops) as well as the Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass New York: Penguin, 1988, (translation by Celina Wieniewska of Sanatorium Pod Klepsydrą, with an introduction by John Updike) ISBN   0-14-005272-0, and The Complete Fiction of Bruno Schulz. New York: Walker and Company, 1989. (Combination of the prior two collections.) ISBN   0-8027-1091-3

Madeline G. Levine published a new translation of Schulz's Complete Stories in 2018, which won the Found in Translation Award in 2019.

Adaptations

Schulz's work has provided the basis for two films. Wojciech Has' The Hour-Glass Sanatorium (1973) draws from a dozen of his stories and recreates the dreamlike quality of his writings. A 21-minute, stop-motion, animated 1986 film, Street of Crocodiles , by the Quay Brothers, was inspired by Schulz's writing.

In 1992, an experimental theatre piece based on The Street of Crocodiles was conceived and directed by Simon McBurney and produced by Theatre de Complicite in collaboration with the National Theatre in London. A highly complex interweaving of image, movement, text, puppetry, object manipulation, naturalistic and stylised performance underscored by music from Alfred Schnittke, Vladimir Martynov drew on Schulz's stories, his letters and biography. It received six Olivier Award nominations (1992) after its initial run, and was revived four times in London in the years that followed influencing a whole generation of British theatre makers. It subsequently played to audiences and festivals all over the world such as Quebec (Prix du Festival 1994), Moscow, Munich (teatre der Welt 1994), Villnius and many other countries. It was last revived in 1998 when it played in New York (Lincoln Center Festival) and other cities in the United States, Tokyo and Australia before returning the London to play an 8-week sell out season at the Queens Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue. It has been published by Methuen, a UK publishing house, in a collection of plays by Complicite. [12]

In 2006, as part of a site-specific series in an historic Minneapolis office building, Skewed Visions created the multimedia performance/installation The Hidden Room. Combining aspects of Schulz's life with his writings and drawings, the piece depicted the complex stories of his life through movement, imagery and highly stylized manipulation of objects and puppets.

In 2007, physical theatre company Double Edge Theatre premiered a piece called Republic of Dreams, based on the life and works of Bruno Schulz. In 2008, a play based on Cinnamon Shops, directed by Frank Soehnle and performed by the Puppet Theater from Białystok, was performed at the Jewish Culture Festival in Kraków. A performance based on the writings and art of Bruno Schulz, called "From A Dream to A Dream", was created collaboratively by Hand2Mouth Theatre (Portland, Oregon) and Teatr Stacja Szamocin (Szamocin, Poland) under the direction of Luba Zarembinska between 2006–2008. The production premiered in Portland in 2008.

Literary references and biography

Cynthia Ozick's 1987 novel, The Messiah of Stockholm, makes reference to Schulz's work. The story is of a Swedish man who's convinced that he's the son of Schulz, and comes into possession of what he believes to be a manuscript of Schulz's final project, The Messiah. Schulz's character appears again in Israeli novelist David Grossman's 1989 novel See Under: Love. In a chapter entitled "Bruno," the narrator imagines Schulz embarking on a phantasmagoric sea voyage rather than remaining in Drohobych to be killed. [13] That entire novel has been described by Grossman as a tribute to Schulz. [14]

In the last chapter of Roberto Bolaño's 1996 novel, Distant Star , the narrator, Arturo B, reads from a book titled The Complete Works of Bruno Schulz in a bar while waiting to confirm the identity of a Nazi-like character, Carlos Wieder, for a detective. When Wieder appears in the bar, the words of Schulz's stories '...had taken on a monstrous character that was almost intolerable' for Arturo B.

Polish writer and critic Jerzy Ficowski spent sixty years researching and uncovering the writings and drawings of Schulz. His study, Regions of the Great Heresy, was published in an English translation in 2003, containing two additional chapters to the Polish edition; one on Schulz's lost work, Messiah, the other on the rediscovery of Schulz's murals. [15]

China Miéville's 2009 novel The City & the City begins with an epigraph from John Curran Davis's translation of Schulz's The Cinnamon Shops: "Deep inside the town there open up, so to speak, double streets, doppelgänger streets, mendacious and delusive streets". In addition to directly alluding to the dual nature of the cities in Miéville's novel, the epigraph also hints at the political implications of the book, since Schulz himself was murdered for appearing in the "wrong" quarter of the city.

In 2010 Jonathan Safran Foer "wrote" his "Tree of Codes" by cutting into the pages of an English language edition of Schulz' "The Street of Crocodiles" thus creating a new text. In 2011, the Austrian Rock and Roll Band "Nebenjob" [16] published the Song "Wer erschoss Bruno Schulz "who shot Bruno Schulz?"), [17] a homage on the poet and accusation of the murderer, written by T.G. Huemer (see 'references' below). Schulz and The Street of Crocodiles are mentioned several times in 2005 novel The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, with a version of Schulz (having survived the Holocaust) playing a supporting role.

Mural controversy

In February 2001, Benjamin Geissler, a German documentary filmmaker, discovered the mural that Schulz had created for Landau. Polish conservation workers, who had begun the meticulous task of restoration, informed Yad Vashem, the Israeli holocaust memorial, of the findings. In May of that year representatives of Yad Vashem went to Drohobych to examine the mural. They removed five fragments of it and transported them to Jerusalem. [18]

International controversy ensued. [6] [19] [20] Yad Vashem said that parts of the mural were legally purchased, but the owner of the property said that no such agreement was made, and Yad Vashem did not obtain permission from the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture despite legal requirements. [21] 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 Drohobych. [6]

This gesture by Yad Vashem instigated public outrage in Poland and Ukraine, where Schulz is a beloved figure. [6]

The issue reached a settlement in 2008 when Israel recognized the works as "the property and cultural wealth" of Ukraine, and Ukraine's Drohobychyna Museum agreed to let Yad Vashem keep them as a long-term loan. [22] In February 2009, Yad Vashem opened its display of the murals to the public. [23]

Notes

  1. Liukkonen, Petri. "Bruno Schulz". Books and Writers (kirjasto.sci.fi). Finland: Kuusankoski Public Library. Archived from the original on December 3, 2003.
  2. Wójcikowski, Grzegorz. "Rocznica urodzin i śmierci Brunona Schulza". Forum Polonijne. 3 (2007): 38. ISSN   1234-2807.
  3. "Władysław Jagiełło Public Middle and High School in Drohobycz | Virtual Shtetl". sztetl.org.pl. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  4. Schulz, Bruno. The Street of Crocodiles. 1992, page 15.
  5. 1 2 Ryszard., Kapuscinski, (2007). Imperium. Glowczewska, Klara. London: Granta. p. 291. ISBN   9781862079601. OCLC   676987676.
  6. 1 2 3 4 "Who Owns Bruno Schulz?", by Benjamin Paloff Boston Review (December 2004/January 2005).
  7. "History of Jews in Drohobycz". Virtual Shtetl . Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Archived from the original on November 10, 2014. Retrieved November 9, 2014.
  8. Arad, Yitzhak (2009). The Holocaust in the Soviet Union. U of Nebraska Press. pp. 277, 282, 237. ISBN   080322270X . Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  9. Ficowski, Jerzy; Robertson, Theodosia S. (2004). Regions of the Great Heresy: Bruno Schulz, a Biographical Portrai. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 252. ISBN   978-0-393-32547-8.
  10. James Fiumara (November 29, 2004). "The Thirteenth Freak Month". Kinoeye. Retrieved December 9, 2010.
  11. Cooper, Alan (1996). Philip Roth and the Jews. State University of New York. p. 163.
  12. "The Street of Crocodiles". Complicite. April 19, 1999. Archived from the original on April 29, 2009. Retrieved August 27, 2009.
  13. David Grossman, See Under: Love. Trans. Betsy Rosenberg. New York: Washington Square Press, 1989.
  14. See Under: Love. David Grossman on Bruno Schulz |http://www.pen.org/event/2009/05/04/see-under-love-david-grossman-bruno-schulz
  15. Jerzy Ficowski, Regions of the Great Heresy, translated and edited by Theodosia Robertson, W.W.Norton & Company, 2003
  16. "Nebenjob - Die Band". Nebenjob - Die Band. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  17. Nebenjob (2014-02-25), NEBENJOB - Wer erschoss Bruno Schulz , retrieved 2017-12-28
  18. Amiram Barkat, "Yad Vashem not displaying Bruno Schulz Holocaust art", Haaretz, 06/04/05. Last accessed January 2, 2011.
  19. "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)
  20. "All Things Considered", NPR (Monday, July 9, 2001)
  21. The New York Times . Artwork by Holocaust Victim Is Focus of Dispute. June 20, 2001
  22. Heller, Aron "Paintings of "Polish Kafka" revealed in Israel" [ permanent dead link ]; The Orange County Register, February 20, 2009
  23. Bronner, Ethan (February 27, 2009). "Behind Fairy Tale Drawings, Walls Talk of Unspeakable Cruelty". The New York Times. Retrieved June 15, 2009.

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References

Further reading