THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF BRUNO SCHULZ By Paulina Juszczak and Karolina Zarzycka
INTRODUCTION This presentation gives an insight into the life and legacy of Bruno Schulz,a writer and fine artist. The year 2012 marked the 70th anniversary of Schulzsdeath and the 120th anniversary of his birth. He was one of the mostinteresting and unfortunately one of the most forgotten artists of the 20thcentury. Schulz, a Polish writer of Jewish origin, lived and worked in the townof Drohobych (now in Ukraine), which was a powerful inspiration for hisgraphical and literary works. The aim of this presentation is to present aprofile of the artist and encourage the audience to familiarize themselves withhis works.
The year 2012 marks the120th anniversary ofSchulz’s birth and the 70thanniversary of his death. BRUNO SCHULZ
He was born and spent most of his life in Drohobych in today’swestern Ukraine. His parents, Jakub and Henrietta Schulz were PolishJews. The Schulz family owned a cloth store in Drohobych.
Schulz studied architecture at the LvivPolytechnic and the University of Vienna.After his graduation he was employed asan arts teacher in a school in Drohobychthough he is said not to have liked the job.What is more, his adult life was oftenperceived by outsiders as that of a hermit;uneventful and enclosed.
In 1939, after the Nazi–Soviet invasion ofPoland in World War II, Drohobych wasoccupied by the Soviet Union. Following theGerman invasion of the Soviet Union, as aJew, he was forced to live in the ghetto ofDrohobych, but was temporarily protectedby Felix Landau, a Nazi Gestapo officer whoadmired his drawings.
During the last weeks of his life, Schulz painted a mural in Landaushome in Drohobych. Shortly after completing the work, Schulz waswalking home through the "Aryan quarter" with a loaf of bread whenhe was shot and killed by another Gestapo officer, Karl Günther.Subsequently, Schulzs mural was painted over and forgotten for along time to come.
The Street of Crocodiles was the first published work by Schulz. It is acollection of short stories set before the First World War. It tells thestory of the life of a merchant family from a small town which inmany respects resembles Drohobych. One of the most interestingobservations Schulz makes in the collection is the clash between the19th and 20th century which is slowly getting to Drohobych,portrayed in the story entitled "The Street of Crocodiles".
The Street of Crocodiles was an inspiration for the filmmakers, brothers Quay toshoot a short animated movie under the same title. The movie perfectlyresembles the atmosphere of the stories, which is somewhat dark and as ifverging on a dream. And it is essentially the atmosphere that makes Schulz’sprose so unusual and fascinating.
Sanatorium under the Sign of the Hourglass is the second collection ofSchulz’s stories and it is again set in a town that resemblesDrohobych, and tells the story of a Jewish merchant family. What isinteresting in this case is that Schulz himself created illustrations forthis volume.
Bruno Schulz is considered one of the most original and forgotten artists ofthe 20th century. His vivid imagination, a special atmosphere of his writings,as well as his graphic works could earn him a place among the most widelyadmired artists. To popularize and give justice to his work a joint project wasorganized in Poland and Ukraine in 2012: W strone Schulza - Towards Schulz. Itwas a series of events and exhibitions organized across Poland and Ukraine.
T H E S T R E E T O F C RO C O D I L E S―Among the houses the crowds stream by. The street is as broad as a cityboulevard, but the roadway is made, like village squares, of beaten clay, full ofpuddles and overgrown with grass. The street traffic of that area is a byword inthe city; all its inhabitants speak about it with pride and a knowing look. Thatgray, impersonal crowd is rather self-conscious of its role, eager to live up to itsmetropolitan aspirations
All the same, despite the bustle and sense of purpose, one has the impressionof a monotonous aimless wandering, of a sleepy procession of puppets. Anatmosphere of strange insignificance pervades the scene. The crowd flowslazily by and, strange to say, one can see it only indistinctly; the figures pass ingentle disarray, never reaching complete sharpness of outline. Only at times dowe catch among the turmoil of many heads a dark vivacious look, a blackbowler hat worn at an angle, half a face split by a smile formed by lips whichhad just finished speaking, a foot thrust forward to take a step and fixedforever in that position.‖ .— Bruno Schulz, The Street of Crocodiles
DISCUSSIONHow would you characterize the atmosphere of thetown described by Schulz?How would you describe the people and their dailyactions?Do you think this passage, written almost eighty yearsago, could describe a contemporary town? Why?