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Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass

4.36  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,008 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
This is the second and final work of Bruno Schulz, the acclaimed Polish writer killed by the Nazis during World War II. In the words of Isaac Bashevis Singer, "What he did in his short life was enough to make him one of the most remarkable writers who ever lived." Weaving myth, fantasy, and reality, Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass, is, to quote Schulz, "an attem ...more
Paperback, 200 pages
Published May 30th 1997 by Mariner Books (first published 1937)
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Crime and Punishment by Fyodor DostoyevskyThe Master and Margarita by Mikhail BulgakovThe Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan KunderaAnna Karenina by Leo TolstoyWar and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Greatest Eastern European Classics
36th out of 335 books — 166 voters
The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno SchulzLalka by Bolesław PrusFerdydurke by Witold GombrowiczQuo Vadis by Henryk SienkiewiczPan Tadeusz by Adam Mickiewicz
Best Polish Literature
8th out of 81 books — 59 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,610)
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Jul 13, 2015 Doreen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
there are v. few writers I know of today who can project one's psyche onto the physical world in such a dispassionate yet compelling way as Schulz. He cajoles one into taking residence in his mind through a fireworks display of prose that is as unrelenting as it is demanding. Even the slightest phrase can take off as abruptly as a flight of roosting birds: images collide into each other and spark new narrative lines. It is a conjurer's act, one made up of fragmented memories--a walk at dusk, a w ...more
Vit Babenco
Aug 11, 2016 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing
I first read Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass at the turn of the millennium and now I just wanted to reread a single story but couldn’t stop till the last page – such is the magic of this book.
“I am simply calling it The Book without any epithets or qualifications, and in this sobriety there is a shade of helplessness, a silent capitulation before the vastness of the transcendental, for no word, no allusion, can adequately suggest the shiver of fear, the presentiment of a thing without
12 short stories and one long one linked by the strong voice of the author and illustrated by him with an equally idiosynchronistic flair. BS writes with delicate ferocity, his luminous prose and boundless optimism softening somewhat his acerbic observations. That his evocation of childhood and old age are equally vivid attests to his virtuousity.

The long story, Spring, delves into "the marginal world beyond the limits of a wilting afternoon" with such thorough tenderness that no one need bothe
Feb 14, 2011 Mike rated it it was amazing
Shelves: in-translation
If there are any writers out there who managed to establish a voice as distinctive, as potent, or as beautiful as Bruno Schultz's with so small an output, I haven't heard of them. His two tiny, genre-less (sometimes anticipating Allen Ginsberg's incantations, other times evoking the headier films of Guy Maddin) books represent an extraordinary genius and a criminally truncated life.
Sep 20, 2009 Thomas rated it really liked it
A feverish stew of metaphor and imagery that simmers in a base of family relationships and seasonal changes. It takes some time to adapt to Schulz's style, which is rich and meandering and despite its deliciousness is sometimes hard to digest. The long story "Spring" revolves around a stamp album that inspires colorful daydreams of foreign lands and historical figures-- of which the daydreamer is one-- but I finished reading it and felt like I had just awakened from a vaguely unpleasant dream. A ...more
Jigar Brahmbhatt
May 19, 2015 Jigar Brahmbhatt rated it liked it
There is a problem in writing fiction that verges towards the highly personal, in that the writer wants to exorcise deepest tragedies or familial burdens but at the same time is conscious of not revealing too much, because any writing that is attempted towards this goal rushes to that dense limbo filled with the scars sustained on the self, and in so doing the struggle becomes to make it readable, to turn it into literature - by "not telling", to revolve around the personal tragedy that has to b ...more
Rebekah Baglini
Aug 02, 2009 Rebekah Baglini rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(Rereading this summer for the umpteenth time.)

I will learn Polish, someday, for the sole purpose of reading this in the original.
Jun 15, 2016 Mikimbizii rated it it was amazing
His prose swells and brims with a mesmerising ripeness. Words unfold, petal after petal of an infinite flower drowning the reader in delectable, fever-inducing, hallucinations. It is a delirious prism, a paradox, a pandemonium - a labyrinth carved in amber or a forest of rainbows. I just cannot, cannot, get over this book. I have tasted the lines, drunk on the dripping nectar of the trippy verses and there is no coming back. There are some books that transforms the way you read so completely tha ...more
Feb 20, 2016 4ZZZ rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-fiction
‘It is part of my existence to be the parasite of metaphors’ writes the author in the very short story Loneliness. He has a point. This entire collection of short stories is riddled with metaphor. Riddled? For all I know maybe it is all just metaphor. It has also been a challenge for me personally.

This collection, to me anyway, is a heady mix of the metaphor with childlike fantasy and delirious dreaming that seemingly mixes the authors life memories/observations that cover his childhood through
Dec 07, 2011 Victoria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not until I was more than halfway through the book did its power begin to exert itself, which might simply mean that the stories (and they are stories, which I hadn't realized at first, since the old edition I was reading seemed to present it as a novel with titled chapters) are arranged best last, or that one needs to adjust to the apparently dilatory and whimsical nature of the writing. The story "Loneliness," which is translated also as "Solitude" -- not at all the same thing! -- deserves fiv ...more
Nate D
Nov 04, 2010 Nate D rated it liked it
Recommends it for: sleepwalkers
Recommended to Nate D by: Wojciech Has
Published later but composed before Schulz's magnificent Street of Crocodiles this is a little diffuser, it's narrative vagueries a little more discernable through its thinner broth of description. Still, it's Schulz, strange and captivating, especially in the title story of a hospital that sustains its patients by removing them from the progression of time entirely, probably his most obviously story-shaped piece. Between that and the long, tangled tale of waxwork intrigues and the coded meaning ...more
Feb 19, 2013 Dave rated it it was amazing
Shelves: shortfiction
I think Schulz wrote totally in the vernacular of dreams. Sometimes when I read one of his stories, it is almost as if I AM dreaming--I can sense something momentous happening but often it is just outside my grasp; I get to the end it dissipates and I am left trying to reconstruct the impression that the story first left. I remember the words, but I can only get that feeling by actively reading them. It's magic. My actual dreams are incredibly lucid when I'm on a Bruno Schulz jag, too.

Maybe Schu
Dec 27, 2014 Ema rated it really liked it
”Sanatoriul timpului”, cea de-a doua parte a Manechinelor, folosește, mai ales în primele povestiri, un limbaj mult mai ermetic și mai saturat de metafore decât în ”Prăvăliile de scorţişoară”, depărtându-se de subiectul concret și coborând în abstract, prin intermediul unui delir lingvistic. Dificultatea lecturii nu rezidă, însă, în folosirea unor termeni complicați, ci în babilonia de metafore și alăturări neașteptate de cuvinte.

Este destul de dificil și obositor să ții pasul cu imagistica fre
Dec 31, 2007 John rated it really liked it
Shelves: short_stories
I have had this book on my coffee table for months, and I read a few passages here and there, usually on weekends when my mind has readjusted to its proper speed. And I think I will leave it there so that I can re-read it several more times.

The most wonderful, most enjoyable parts of Sanatorium are the descriptions, like when Schulz describes the smells of spring, the white dress of a young girl, or – my favorite – the wonders of a stamp collection, which bring the mind of a young provincial boy
Brent Hayward
Jul 24, 2014 Brent Hayward rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Schulz's life story, at least the wiki version-- specifically the end part of it-- is as disconcerting and surreal as his writing. A so-called 'pet Jew' to an occupying Nazi, he was shot in the head and killed as he went out for a loaf of bread. The killer was another Nazi staying in town who had issues with Schulz's 'owner', and was either settling accounts or upping the ante on the fascists' wierd feud. Schulz, apparently, a kept man, would entertain his German by painting murals. (What a subt ...more
Jan Jørgensen
Jul 31, 2013 Jan Jørgensen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fed bog, fantastiske fortællinger fra en virkelighed der ikke overholder nogle regler. Som læser sidder man tilbage og vrider hænderne for at få mere af Schulz. Det er sjældent at man møder en forfatter der håndtere sproget så mesterligt og samtidig er i stand til at vride og oplæse de rammer fortællingen befinder sig under.
Som læser efterlader Schulz mig i en følelse af at jeg har været på en rejse men at jeg ikke har fatte alle nuancerne af det der er sket omkring mig. Det er som at vågne fra
Jan 10, 2016 Andy rated it liked it
I hate to say that I was a bit disappointed I didn't enjoy this book as much as "Street of Crocodiles," a book I truly found inspiring. These stories are more varied in tone than those in "Street of Crocodiles," a collection often focused on the shenanigans and exploits of his seemingly deranged father.

Although more varied, I found the prose here not quite as inspiring, or as consistently so. I believe the main problem for me at least is that this writing is best suited to shorter lengths, and a
May 10, 2015 Lily rated it liked it
The second of Bruno Schulz's dreamlike account of the merchant town in Poland he grew up in. It was exponentially freakier than the first, which was already pretty freaky. This one really felt like the ravings of a mentally unstable person at times (intentional? See: title). Like Michael Ginsburg level psychotic break. That said, it was incredibly beautifully written. I loved part where his father refuses to believe he has died and hangs onto life many years after the fact (living in the Sanator ...more
Sean A.
Mar 20, 2012 Sean A. rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, surreal
Excellent series of mythical vignettes and surreal tall tales. Lush and lavish language. Not much of a plot but rather a reoccuring and reincarnated father character picked up from schulz's other novel, street of crocodiles. A whole lot of listless implosion. I immensely enjoyed this as well of street of crocodiles which i read last summer. Totally magical. The ending was a bit underwhelming. Anyways...
Aug 04, 2013 Elise rated it it was amazing
"Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass" reads like a sequel to "The Street of Crocodiles." It is gorgeous, deranged, surreal, and beautifully written. And if you can find the edition with Schulz's drawings in it, that will just add to your enjoyment.
Feb 16, 2011 Mely rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, judaism
Weird Kafkaesque stories inspired by Jewish mysticism by Jewish Pole who died in the Holocaust -- contemporary of Kafka, not influenced by.
Mar 21, 2008 Andy rated it it was amazing
Whenever I want to close a book by opening it I think of Schulz and his tiny spheres of limitless wandering.
Dec 11, 2011 Morgan rated it really liked it
Really gorgeous amorphous writing that flows like a tone poem. It's like reading one very long Lawrence Ferlinghetti piece only with far less plot. It is a dreamy recount of fleeting childhood memories where everything blends and melds in a viscous sticky web. The best way to describe it is how when you are really tired but you are really enjoying reading a good book, you push yourself to read more but after a few pages you have no idea what you just read and you are totally confused as to what ...more
James English
Mar 25, 2015 James English rated it really liked it
Beautiful language, surreal landscapes, and fuzzy depiction of the ever shifting meaning of life, "Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass" is a masterful work by an author whose voice was silenced for the pettiest of reasons: he was a Jew. While I confess I struggled through some of the text, the fault lies within my own inability to concentrate. I highly recommend this to anyone who is after a substantive read that will linger long after the last page is turned.
Bill Currie
Jan 13, 2016 Bill Currie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Be prepared for tantalizing word usage. However being a translated work it is difficult to know if the author used such words in his original. Yet it fascinated me and had me keeping the dictionary close at hand.

A very, very simple story line connected by random thoughts and observations during the end of the 19th and opening of the 20th c. Looking inward as a youth Schulz captures the fantasy of what makes childhood so precious. Moving forward he romantizes so tenderly with perfect vision of h
Mr. Terrible
Jul 24, 2014 Mr. Terrible rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Oproti Skořicovým krámům značně nevyrovnané. Některé povídky jsem si skutečně zamiloval, například titulní Knihu či Jaro pro jejich vypravěčskou energii a prožitek, který rezonoval s mou vlastní zkušeností. Avšak jiné mě silně iritovaly ať už titulní Sanatorium na věčnosti, Penzista či Edík. Jejich téma mě buď míjelo, anebo mi byl takový prožitek cizí. Jakoby se vypravěčova subjektivita vytratila a stala se příliš všeobecným zpodobněním. A chyběla mi organičnost předchozí sbírky, Skořicových krá ...more
Jan 09, 2014 Keith rated it it was amazing
Everything I said in my review of Street of Crocodiles applies here. Indeed, I think it crucial to read these books together. There is no diminution of talent here, it actually increases.

“For beauty is a disease, as my father maintained; it is the result of a mysterious infection, a dark forerunner of decomposition, which rises from the depth of perfection and is saluted by perfection with signs of the deepest bliss.”

“For ordinary books are like meteors. Each of them has only one moment, a mom
Dec 28, 2014 Helena121q marked it as to-read
Jul 09, 2016 Michael rated it it was amazing
I am totally enchanted by the mythopoeic writings of Bruno Schultz. The sheer exuberance of his words delight me at every page. Amos Tutola comes close . Lewis Carroll, ETA Hoffman are 19th century predecessors . My extensive reading of Witold Gombrowicz lead me to his world.
Víctor Sampayo
Aug 19, 2014 Víctor Sampayo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Originalmente pensado como un libro ilustrado (en su edición original contiene 42 dibujos del propio autor), Sanatorio bajo la clepsidra (Sanatorium pod Klepsydrą, 1937) es el segundo y último libro que se publicó en vida de Bruno Schulz, antes de su estúpido asesinato en 1942 por parte de un nazi de alto rango. Se cree que el propio Schulz veía este volumen como un libro preparatorio para la que sería su obra principal, y que se titularía El mesías, asimismo ilustrada...

Aquí mi reseña completa.
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Bruno Schulz was a Polish writer, fine artist, literary critic and art teacher of Jewish descent. He was regarded as one of the great Polish-language prose stylists of the 20th century.

At a very early age, Schulz developed an interest in the arts. He studied at a gymnasium in Drohobycz from 1902 to 1910, and proceeded to study architecture at Lwów University. In 1917 he briefly studied architectu
More about Bruno Schulz...

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“There are things than cannot ever occur with any precision. They are too big and too magnificent to be contained in mere facts. They are merely trying to occur, they are checking whether the ground of reality can carry them. And they quickly withdraw, fearing to loose their integrity in the frailty of realization. ” 50 likes
“An event may be small and insignificant in its origin , and yet, when drawn close to one’s eye, it may open in its center an infinite and radiant perspective because a higher order of being is trying to express itself in it and irradiates it violently.” 28 likes
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