The Light Waters of Amnion

Dan Jacobson

  • The Collected Works of Bruno Schulz edited by Jerzy Ficowski
    Picador, 582 pp, £50.00, December 1998, ISBN 0 330 34783 7

It is not necessarily a disadvantage for a writer to be childish and shameless. In his writing, I mean. Dante was a great genius and the master of a highly elaborated theology and cosmogony. Among the tasks to which he put his gifts was that of inventing an inferno in which he inflicted hideous punishments on persons who had thwarted and oppressed him in earlier years. If an adult sense of embarrassment or compunction had inhibited him as he went about this agreeable duty, the poem would have 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.

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