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The second genesis or the motifs of animals, men and women in the prose of Bruno Schulz

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posted on 2023-07-26, 02:59 authored by Marika Biber

The works of Bruno Schulz offer a unique perspective on the Polish Jewish experience. Living between 1892 and 1942 Schulz authored two collections of prose, painted numerous graphics and left a legacy of over 130 letters and other literary criticisms. Possessed of mythical imaginative creative spirit, Schulz's work draws on classical myth and biblical allusion. His work reveals a man preoccupied with his father's illness and subsequent death, and a fetishistic obsession with young women. Memories of his own childhood recur in his work making his writing an imaginative interpretation of his life. Sometimes his work has qualities which are bizarre and surreal, such as father undergoing animal metamorphoses, but this too gives an insight into the psychologically slanted mind of Bruno Schulz. Living all his life in the provincial Galician town of Drohobycz, Schulz worked as an art and craft teacher, never married and lived all his life with his family. Nevertheless, his literary life was not entirely obscure; the publication of his writings made his name known in Polish literary circles. His final work, "The Messiah", was lost during World War II and never recovered. Schulz's own life was prematurely taken by a Gestapo officer. He was shot in a Drohobycz street in November 1942. This thesis draws on the entire remaining corpus of Schulz's writings. Using these sources, I attempt to reconstruct the fantastic imaginative world of Bruno Schulz - his own vision of his own world, comprising a uniquely Schulzian order of animals and humans, myth and invention. Specifically, I closely consider Schulz's approach to men, women and animals. The thesis is entitled "The Second Genesis" because of Schulz's literary proposal of an alternate Genesis. Emphasising new forms of life and existence, and creating new meanings for existing forms, Schulz offers a genuinely unique perspective on social order and human endeavour. Primarily, the thesis marks a close analysis of Schulz's prose. Personal recollections, both written and oral of Schulz and his milieu are also used, as well as secondary critical interpretations of his life and work. Schulz's life and work have left a palpable legacy. The thesis considers the extent of Schulz's influence since his death to the present, an influence that has taken him far beyond the small world of Drohobycz. I attribute Schulz's influence to a common human quest for the acceptance of individuality. He is a torchbearer for individuality. Schulz's imagination and literary style give his work a complexity that affords continued revisiting and reinterpretation by new generations of readers. Its unique outlook and relatively obscure origins ensure for Schulz an artistic legacy of international and enduring significance.


Table of Contents

I Introduction -- II The motifs of animals, birds, insects and beasts: the Schulzian bestiary -- III The motifs of Father, Husband and Son -- IV Maidens, maidservants and Mother: the Schulzian women -- Bibliographical references -- Appendix

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis masters research

Department, Centre or School

Department of European Languages

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Brian Holbeche


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:




207 pages

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