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The Light Waters of Amnion

Dan Jacobson: Bruno Schulz

1 July 1999
The Collected Works of Bruno​ Schulz 
edited by Jerzy Ficowski.
Picador, 582 pp., £50, December 1998, 0 330 34783 7
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... been much diminished. Or, to put the point the other way around, the poem would have suffered irreparably if everything elevated in it had not been mingled with its baser, more primitive elements. BrunoSchulz was not Dante. Nor was he another Kafka (a writer whom he greatly admired). No Thomas Aquinas stood behind Schulz’s infernos and glimpses of paradise; nor is there in his work any notion of ...

Ozick’s No

John Lanchester

4 February 1988
The Messiah of Stockholm 
by Cynthia Ozick.
Deutsch, 144 pp., £9.95, November 1987, 9780233981420
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The Birds of the Innocent Wood 
by Deirdre Madden.
Faber, 147 pp., £9.95, January 1988, 0 571 14880 8
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The Coast of Bohemia 
by Zdena Tomin.
Century, 201 pp., £11.95, October 1987, 0 09 168490 0
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... to it. He is a refugee, smuggled out of Nazi-occupied Poland in his infancy, and his image of himself – his ‘deep fact’ – is centred on his belief that he is the son of the dead Polish writer BrunoSchulz, who is not a figure of Ozick’s imagination. It is not clear why he holds this belief, but it possesses him entirely. He has learnt Polish in order to read ‘his father’, and spends a lot ...
24 October 1991
Scum 
by Isaac Bashevis Singer, translated by Rosaline Dukalsky Schwartz.
Cape, 224 pp., £13.99, October 1991, 0 224 03200 3
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... with his background, the superlative ways he found to escape in his writing from what was inescapable. But Kafka was writing in German – and very much his own German – not in Yiddish. BrunoSchulz, killed in the Jewish quarter of his home town by a Gestapo officer in 1941, wrote a Polish of such delicacy and exquisite animation that his nouvelles were praised by native writers for being some ...

At the Whitechapel

Julian Bell: Wilhelm Sasnal

5 January 2012
... constantly inquisitive productivity. From an English perspective, one sees a distinctive Polish will to persist in that. Art as a burden and a responsibility seems to weigh heavier in the land of BrunoSchulz and Miroslaw Balka. Like others in his generation of Polish painters, Sasnal does most of his thinking in black paint. ‘Colour should serve some purpose,’ he pronounces sternly. ‘If I ...
4 April 1991
To Know a Woman 
by Amos Oz, translated by Nicholas de Lange.
Chatto, 265 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 7011 3572 7
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The Smile of the Lamb 
by David Grossman, translated by Betsy Rosenberg.
Cape, 325 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 224 02639 9
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... beginning to feel faded by comparison. For Grossman, the sanctity of life is enhanced rather than diminished if we can bring ourselves to see it as an aesthetic phenomenon. In See Under: Love he has BrunoSchulz making an impassioned statement of this case: ‘And now everyone will understand ... that whoever kills another human being destroys a uniquely idiosyncratic work of art which can never be ...

Uncle Kingsley

Patrick Parrinder

22 March 1990
The folks that live on the hill 
by Kingsley Amis.
Hutchinson, 246 pp., £12.95, March 1990, 0 09 174137 8
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Kingsley Amis: An English Moralist 
by John McDermott.
Macmillan, 270 pp., £27.50, January 1989, 9780333449691
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In the Red Kitchen 
by Michèle Roberts.
Methuen, 148 pp., £11.99, March 1990, 9780413630209
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See Under: Love 
by David Grossman, translated by Betsy Rosenberg.
Cape, 458 pp., £13.95, January 1990, 0 224 02640 2
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... of telling and listening, writing and reading. There are no less than four writers or would-be writers in the novel. In addition to Momik, Wasserman and Neigel, there is the actual Polish novelist BrunoSchulz, who was murdered by an SS officer in the Drohobycz ghetto in 1942. In keeping with the theme of childlike narrative Grossman imagines a miraculous escape for Schulz, who flees to Danzig ...

Ludic Cube

Angela Carter

1 June 1989
Dictionary of the Khazars: A Lexicon Novel in 100,000 Words 
by Milorad Pavic, translated by Christina Pribicevic-Zoric.
Hamish Hamilton, 338 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 241 12658 4
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... of the Egg and the Violin Bow’ that boasts all the inscrutability of Surrealist narrative plus a quality of what one can only call the ‘mercantile fantastic’ reminiscent of the short stories of BrunoSchulz, with their bizarre and ominous shops and shopkeepers. ‘The shop was empty except for a hen nestled in a cap in the corner. She cocked one eye at Dr Suk and saw everything edible in him ...

The Khugistic Sandal

Jenny Diski: Jews & Shoes

9 October 2008
Jews and Shoes 
edited by Edna Nahshon.
Berg, 226 pp., £17.99, August 2008, 978 1 84788 050 5
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... poked out from his torn shoes … Is there anything nobler than torn shoes on the feet of a leader? That is the ultimate symbol of the pioneer.’ Shoes are literally fetishised by the extraordinary BrunoSchulz in his pictures of crouching, self-abasing men – self-portraits often – excruciated with desire at the feet and elegant shoes of fancy women holding whips or with their noses in the air ...

Everlasting Fudge

Theo Tait: The Difficult Fiction of Cynthia Ozick

19 May 2005
The Bear Boy 
by Cynthia Ozick.
Weidenfeld, 310 pp., £12.99, March 2005, 0 297 84808 9
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... to distraction by fiction. Lars Andemening, the protagonist of her third novel, The Messiah of Stockholm (1987), is an orphaned Swedish book reviewer who fancies himself the illegitimate child of BrunoSchulz, Poland’s answer to Kafka, the author of the hallucinatory comic masterpiece The Street of Crocodiles (1934). At the climax of the story, a shifty bookseller offers Lars what may or may not ...
17 March 1988
...  the heart of the discussion. Aharon’s answers to my questions have been translated by Jeffrey Green. PR: I find echoes in your fiction of two Middle European writers of a previous generation: BrunoSchulz, the Polish Jew who wrote in Polish and was shot and killed at 50 by the Nazis in Drogobych, the heavily Jewish Galician city where he taught high school and lived at home with his family, and ...

Francine-Machine

Jonathan Rée: Automata

9 May 2002
Devices of Wonder: From the World in a Box to Images on a Screen 
by Barbara Maria Stafford and Frances Terpak.
Getty, 416 pp., £30, February 2002, 0 89236 590 0
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The Secret Life of Puppets 
by Victoria Nelson.
Harvard, 350 pp., £20.50, February 2002, 0 674 00630 5
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Living Dolls: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life 
by Gaby Wood.
Faber, 278 pp., £12.99, March 2002, 0 571 17879 0
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... These doll-stories form the topic of Victoria Nelson’s pioneering and wide-ranging book The Secret Life of Puppets. Nelson has Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft rubbing shoulders with Kafka and BrunoSchulz, and Will Self and Lars von Trier with Carrington and Anna Kavan, as well as St Augustine, Giordano Bruno, Philip K. Dick, Walt Disney and J.R.R. Tolkien. Her cast of ‘imagined puppets ...

In a Cold Country

Michael Wood: Coetzee’s Grumpy Voice

4 October 2007
Diary of a Bad Year 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Harvill, 231 pp., £16.99, September 2007, 978 1 84655 120 8
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Inner Workings: Essays 2000-2005 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Harvill, 304 pp., £17.99, March 2007, 978 1 84655 045 4
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... literary flourishes, and no sign of that rather grumpy internal voice that has characterised much of Coetzee’s recent fiction.’ It is in this mode that we hear, in Inner Workings, of Italo Svevo, BrunoSchulz, Joseph Roth, W.G. Sebald. The method is less biographical for Saul Bellow, Graham Greene, Nadine Gordimer and others, and a long, frosty essay on Walter Benjamin engages crucial concepts ...

Will it hold?

Helen Thompson: Will the EU hold?

21 June 2018
... Yet there is little evidence that the EU is capable of choosing either of these paths. Earlier this year Merkel seemed to be constructing with the then leader of the German Social Democrats, Martin Schulz, a new grand coalition that could have gone some way towards Macron’s position. But Schulz’s support for Macron’s ambitions proved a liability within the SPD and even if Schulz had kept the ...

Double Act

Adam Smyth: ‘A Humument’

11 October 2012
A Humument: A Treated Victorian Novel 
by Tom Phillips.
Thames and Hudson, 392 pp., £14.95, May 2012, 978 0 500 29043 9
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... thing.’ Recent experiments with the novel’s material form are indebted to Phillips. Jonathan Safran Foer produced Tree of Codes (2010) by cutting away most of the text of his favourite book, BrunoSchulz’s short story collection The Street of Crocodiles (1934; translated into English in 1963), to leave behind a new story (slicing seven letters from ‘Street of Crocodiles’ leaves ‘Tree ...

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