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The Street of Crocodiles and Other Stories (Penguin Classics)

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Bruno Schulz

"Every time I open his books, I'm amazed anew to discover how this writer, a single human being who rarely left his home town, created for us an entire world, an alternate dimension of reality. . . . His [stories] create a fantastic universe, a private … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Bruno Schulz
Publisher: Penguin Classics
1 review about The Street of Crocodiles and Other Stories...

"The cat was washing itself in the sunlight."

  • Jul 29, 2010
Rating:
+5
No homework!
No plot summary! There's a plot against plotting, or plodding, on The Street of Crocodiles!
No exegesis! Except perhaps (6aR,9R)- N,N- diethyl- 7-methyl- 4,6,6a,7,8,9- hexahydroindolo- [4,3-fg] quinoline- 9-carboxamide in a naturally occurring form.
"Just tell us why you like this book, Bobby Lou."
"I like this book because the language is slinky and tastes like cinnamon cough syrup."
You know that painting by Vincent van Gogh of a stiff wicker-bottomed chair, just a chair sitting patiently without a butt upon it? How profound that chair looks, yet you couldn't possibly say why? The colors,maybe? Can colors have meaning in and of themselves?
Can music without words be more explicit than words?
Can words be as untranslatable as music?
Or as William Carlos Williams was wont to say: No meaning but in things.
Franz Kafka, Jorge Luis Borges, and Kenneth Patchen were out fishing one day. They were baiting their hooks with pages of Bruno Schulz's lost Messiah.

Page 84: ""There my father would sit, as if in an aviary, on a high stool; and the lofts of filing cabinets rustled with piles of paper and all the pigeonholes filled with the twitter of figures.""

Page 109: ""Uncle Edward was ringing to high heaven through all those bright and empty rooms. The lonely deserter from the stars, conscience stricken, as if he had come to commit an evil dead, retreated stealthily from the apartment, deafened by the constant ringing. He went to the front door accompanied by the vigilant mirrors which let him through their starry ranks, while into their depths there tiptoed a swarm of doubles with fingers to their lips.""

But lest you expire from anxiety, suffice it to say that Schulz's cockroach/magus father will avert the comet and save this jabberwocking planet of ours.

Shall we assert that The Street of Crocodiles is a memoir of Schulz's childhood in a remote Jewish stetl in Galicia, then part of Austria-Hungary now part of Ukraine, written in Polish flavored with Latin in the tradition of Kakanian bureaucratic German? Shall we also mention that Schulz spent his entire life as a teacher in that seemingly dreary town, and that he was murdered in the street by an SS officer of the Nazi occupation in retaliation for the murder of that officer's 'pet' Jew by the officer who was protecting Schulz while Schulz painted his -the officer's - child's nursery? Shall we venture to imply that insensate rage and fear of humanism is a universal psychological marker of nationalism and rightist conservatism? No, let's not assert, mention, or venture. Let's not crack the lid of Pandora's lunchbox.

Schulz's only other surviving works -- "Sanatorium under the Sign of the Hourglass" plus three short stories -- are also included in this edition, all translated by Celina Wieniewska. Since I can't read a word of Polish, I have no idea how close Madam Wieniewska's English is to the original, but as English qua English, the writing in this book is rich and strange beyond anything I could quote. "Crocodiles" is so intense that I'm setting the book aside for a few days or weeks before plunging my aesthetic receptors into "Sanatorium." Consider this, therefore, half a review.

"Chapeau" to my amazoo cagemates Schneider and Byrd for coaxing me to read this incredible book!

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