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The Street of Crocodiles

4.18  ·  Rating Details ·  5,466 Ratings  ·  496 Reviews
The Street of Crocodiles in the Polish city of Drogobych is a street of memories and dreams where recollections of Bruno Schulz's uncommon boyhood and of the eerie side of his merchant family's life are evoked in a startling blend of the real and the fantastic. Most memorable - and most chilling - is the portrait of the author's father, a maddened shopkeeper who imports ra ...more
Paperback, 335 pages
Published March 1st 1992 by Penguin Classics (first published 1933)
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Bill  Kerwin
Jan 05, 2017 Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it
Shelves: weird-fiction

A strange, uneven book of fiction, but one that is oddly compelling. It is somewhat like magic realism, but more primeval and mythic than the dark fairy tales of Marquez. It is a little like Kafka too, but much more energetic, teeming with life. If Egon Schiele wrote fiction, it might be something like this.

8.33 am March 3rd 2016
There are so many thoughts and impressions pushing for a prime position in this review space that for the moment I'm just sitting on them all, frantically trying to hold them down as I think about a shape for them which will be vaguely comprehensible to someone who hasn't read this book/doesn't live inside my head.
But the task will certainly involve excluding some of those many impressions and I can sense already that I'll have a rebellion on my hands as rogue thoughts ste
Dec 31, 2014 Agnieszka rated it it was amazing

Bruno Schulz , loner from Drogobych , as he was named, in this collection of short stories, impressions actually , evokes that distant land called childhood.

At the centre of that created world is , quite patriarchal , figure of the father - unstuck from reality ,absorbed in thoughts and deep in his eccentricities. Birds , mannequins and cockroaches gradually are occupying his mind. One by one , he shook off the bonds off association with human society.

In the background are the other people aroun
Ian "Marvin" Graye

This volume contains two collections of short stories and three additional stories that were originally published with Schulz's letters, drawings and miscellaneous prose.

I'll review each of the collections separately under their GR titles.

After only two or three stories, I started having really vivid responses, which I turned into a story. I normally place any creative responses to a book at the end of my more analytical review. However, this time, I'll reverse the order, so that the revi
Jul 12, 2012 Helen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: holocaust
My father survived World War II hiding in a bunker under the town of Drohobych, so I feel eerily connected to this man and his work.

It would be fair to call Bruno Schulz Poland's greatest twentieth century writer. This collection of stories changes the very definition of what a short story should be. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end, yes, but the writing is best described as delirious, hypnotic, dreamlike. You don't read Schulz for the plot; you read for the prose, the intensely sensu
Jack Tripper


"And while the children's games became increasingly noisier and more complicated, while the city's flushes darkened into purple, the whole world suddenly began to wilt and blacken and exude an uncertain dusk which contaminated everything. Treacherous and poisonous, the plague of dusk spread, passed from one object to another, and everything it touched became black and rotten and scattered into dust. People fled before it in silent panic, but the disease always caught up with them and spre
Nora Dillonovich
Dec 10, 2007 Nora Dillonovich rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: tout le monde
In the spirit of my rambling memoir/ book reviews I will begin with a childhood anecdote that somehow connects or correlates or resonates or slaps a high five with this book.

I was raised by a sugar-free bran loving mother. No soda ("You're better off drinking pool water Nora! Here, Christ, take a straw; go out and drink pool water if you're so intent on poisoning yourself.") No white bread (again, a reference to cholorine or bleach- some sort of chemical that would rot and/ or sicken my small i
Feb 14, 2015 Hadrian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As we manipulate everyday words, we forget that they are fragments of ancient and eternal stories, that we are building our houses with broken pieces of sculptures and ruined statues of gods.

In walking down The Street of Crocodiles, you take in a writer who can make the mundane into something brilliant. Shops on street corners contain wonders, vagrants become wild monsters from fairy tale nightmares. These stories slip from the limits imposed by ordinary spaces and times. This short brilliant co
When I think about Bruno Schulz' life story, I always feel a pang in my heart. I'm known for my displays of pity regarding every living being, even trees (several nights ago, after a big storm, I found a young tree that was bent and was probably going to be cut down; I felt so sorry for it that went out, straightened it and tied it). So it's no surprise that the unjust death of Schulz and the disappearance of his other writing provokes a dull ache in my heart, especially after having an insight ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Dec 25, 2014 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Jayson Fajardo
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2008-2012)
I was led to this book by Cynthia Ozick because in her 501 book, The Messiah of Stockholm (3 stars), she has a protagonist named Lars Andeming who thinks that he is the son of Bruno Schulz (1892-1942). So when I googled Schulz, I saw that he has this book, The Street of Crocodile that is included in the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. Bruno Schulz was a Polish writer who was finishing a novel entitled Messiah when he was shot by German Nazi in 1942. The manuscript has been missing sinc ...more
Jun 06, 2011 Geoff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Just intermittently rereading one of my absolute favorites... if you haven't read this collection (which includes Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass) do yourself a favor and read one of the great books. Schulz's sketches are equally great. Here is a lovely website dedicated to his art & writing:

...and if you don't know Schulz's fate, read his wiki-biography or whatever, but be prepared for some genuine 20th century tragedy.

The first recorded Polish sente
Jun 08, 2016 Cody rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book. This goddamn book.

The Street of Crocodiles tore threw me like electricity. Or enchiladas. Or electric enchiladas. You get the picture. It is so painfully lovely, so exquisitely wrought, that you have to read it to believe the defying of gravity that Schulz accomplishes here. This rare astronaut; this martyred martian. The most immediate comparison (which I don’t know why I feel compelled to make, other than with hope that it compels someone to read it) is Calvino’s Cities. In terms o
Dec 20, 2009 Jacob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most haunting, beautiful, amazing, nuanced, and important books that I've ever read. The Street of Crocodiles is profoundly difficult, delicious in its complexity, and while some have compared him favorably to both Proust and Kafka, both comparisons fall flat. Read this book. Buy it. Lend it to out. Buy it again. Lend it out. Please read this book.
Sep 26, 2016 Christopher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Today those remote dreams come back, and not without reason. The possibility suggests itself that no dreams, however absurd or senseless, are wasted in the universe. Embedded in the dream is a hunger for its own reification, a demand that imposes an obligation on reality and that grows imperceptibly into a bona fide claim, an IOU clamoring for payment. We have long since abandoned our dreams of that fortress, but here, years later, someone turns up who picks them up and takes them seriously, so ...more
Susan Budd
Jul 16, 2016 Susan Budd rated it it was amazing
Bruno Schulz had an imagination like no one else. His metaphors, similes, and personifications whirl the reader through a cosmos as vivid and surreal as Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” His characters prophesy like the enigmatic beings that inhabit the pages of William Blake. At once fiction and nonfiction, prose and poetry, memory and dream, The Street of Crocodiles defies categorization.

Schulz is sometimes compared to Kafka, but he should not be. He is not Kafkaesque. The world of Kafka is a nightm
David Schaafsma
“The books we read in childhood don't exist anymore; they sailed off with the wind, leaving bare skeletons behind. Whoever still has in him the memory and marrow of childhood should rewrite these books as he experienced them.” ― Bruno Schulz

“My ideal goal is to 'mature' into childhood. That would be genuine maturity.” ― Bruno Schulz

Bruno Schulz was a high school art teacher, an artist and a short story writer who was killed by the Gestapo when he was 50 for straying into a non-Jewish or Aryan ar
Dec 30, 2016 BlackOxford rated it it was amazing
There Is No Dead Matter

No one knows quite how to distinguish living from non-living matter. At the boundary between them the A-level “7 Characteristics of Life” break down. Viruses, some organic chemical compounds, prions, perhaps some bacteria, among other things don’t fit neatly into the biological vs. merely material categorisation. We are accustomed to thinking in Darwinian terms: Mind we presume emerges in an evolutionary process from matter. But the 19th century American philosopher C. S.
Nate D
Nov 04, 2010 Nate D rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who walk with fascination through labyrinths of memory
Recommended to Nate D by: Wojciech Has
Even in this volume's overture, "August", an insatiable suction into the hallucinatory blind-bright swarming-dark fetid verdant depths of summer, even then at the very start the sheer overcrowded prose-intensity of this "Polish Kafka" seemed to be surpassing anything I'd encountered from the primary Czech Kafka. And then it just goes from there, and goes and goes, through automatons and comets, labyrinths and stork-swarms. I've seen this sort of reeling mythic recollection attempted many times, ...more
Vit Babenco
Jan 02, 2016 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing
Every unique author is unique in his own way… And Bruno Schulz is one of the inarguable proofs.
“The Demiurge has had no monopoly of creation, for creation is the privilege of all spirits. Matter has been given infinite fertility, inexhaustible vitality, and, at the same time, a seductive power of temptation which invites us to create as well. In the depth of matter, indistinct smiles are shaped, tensions build up, attempts at form appear. The whole of matter pulsates with infinite possibilities
Mar 25, 2016 Teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: n-polonia, e4
Bruno Schulz foi um pintor e escritor polaco de religião judia. Nasceu em 1892 e foi fuzilado, por um oficial da Gestapo, em 1942. Tímido e solitário, quase eremita, "uma espécie de gnomo franzino", ocupava o tempo livre a desenhar; arte que lhe permitiu prover ao sustento da família, após a morte do pai, dando aulas de desenho. Tornou-se escritor por acaso ao ser-lhe sugerido a transformação, em contos, das cartas que escrevia a um amigo, contando-lhe as suas recordações, mas que "não lhe rende ...more
Dhanaraj Rajan
Feb 01, 2014 Dhanaraj Rajan rated it really liked it
Few Questions and Answers:

1. Can a simple ordinary fact of a normal day, become a superb piece of literature? For instance, the first act of barking of a puppy - can there be anything interesting to describe it? Not to say anything of four pages of pure pleasure and in the form of a 'short story'. Schulz does it very easily.

2. Can language be intoxicating? The language intoxicates you and results in high voltage creations of hallucinations. An example: In the middle of the day, when the sun was
Jeffrey Keeten
Nov 15, 2016 Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it
”They maintain that every woman in that district is a tart. In fact, it is enough to stare at any of them, and at once you meet an insistent clinging look which freezes you with the certainty of fulfillment. Even the schoolgirls wear their hair ribbons in a characteristic way and walk on their slim legs with a peculiar step, an impure expression in their eyes that foreshadows their future corruption.”

 photo Schulz sketch_zpslxmhu8eq.jpg
Schulz sketch

There is a sexual madness bubbling in the corners of every scene in this collectio
Jul 26, 2010 Szplug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(This review is only for The Street of Crocodiles - the remaining four stories will be added when read.)

Schulz has penned an utterly gorgeous collection of disjointed set pieces here, placed in his native Galician city in a chromagnostic variation of the world, one wherein colour and sensation come alive and stain organic beings with their prismatic hues; where inanimate objects, especially home furnishings like wallpaper and cupboards, doors and closets, have been soaked with the memories of li
Dec 14, 2014 Janet rated it it was amazing
A strange and magical experience. The small stories in this book are language-drunk, old-world-surrealism, the emphasis on the weird life of objects, and a father who at various times turns into a bird, saves the world, forgets his wallet, pursues the maid, creates a world out of bolts of cloth, and--of course! becomes a cockroach…the Mittel-Europa city that morphs and morphs again… Only the maid never changes from story to story. A vanished world, a child's wavering sense of reality, a street o ...more
Mar 07, 2016 Sofia rated it it was amazing

A volcano, smoldering silently in the isolation of a sleepy provincial town – of Bruno Schulz - Celina Wieniewska (translator)

One thing for sure Schulz is a very sensual writer, sensual in the almost erotic tinge he gives his words. Also sensual in the sense of touch, the feeling that there is behind his words.

Schulz does not hamper himself with a focused story line, he lets his words, his imagination flow and go where it will just like dreams do. Part of the fun is trying to unravel the associa
Dec 20, 2007 Audrey rated it really liked it
This book is completely delirious. Every inanimate object is alive in some horrid, pulsing way: the night seethes with stars, the floriated wallpaper opens eyes and strains ears to spy on the family in their cavernous, dusty rooms, while what we think of as reality is an enormous empty theater. Only the scene immediately before us retains its characteristics while everywhere our gaze does not fall is crumbling as we speak into decay and plaster and sawdust, unable to keep its form without our co ...more
Mar 07, 2016 Maya rated it liked it

Art by Tetsuya Ishida

This was too surrealistic and chaotic for me. Too often I found myself searching for clues and hints to help me figure out which parts of the stories were real and which were dreams, and – obviously – that’s not what the book is for.

However, a day after I finished reading the images the author drew are still vivid in my mind - I can still see the boy wandering the labyrinth-like house and the streets of his home town, trying to understand where he and his father fit in the
Inderjit Sanghera
Apr 03, 2015 Inderjit Sanghera rated it it was amazing
‘The Street of Crocodiles’ is a collection of intertwined stories lifted from the peerless imagination of a gawkish Polish school teacher, Bruno Schulz, whose treasure trove of metaphors, similes and beautiful images form the basis of the central preoccupation of Schulz’s work: the triumph of the imagination and its ability to recognise the sublime beneath the veneer of even the most everyday things.

The collection begins with a surreal description of an ordinary August day, “On those luminous mo
Jul 09, 2007 Mary-Louise rated it really liked it
I found this book randomly somewhere. I think someone left it at Joe's Pub when I was working there. It sat on my book shelf for a couple years til a couple months ago. I think I picked it up at an appropriate time, because it gave me a new perspective when my outlook on life was pretty foggy. Any perspective was welcomed, but this one particularly made sense-- or proceeded to make nonsense, but nevertheless got the wheels turning when the crank was rusty.

At first glance, it seems to be a nonsen
Jun 11, 2007 Lee rated it it was amazing
I couldn't read this in bed in Brooklyn so I walked around and read it and it was incredible. Then I would try to read it in bed and I'd pass out. And then I'd walk. I suggest you read this one and walk.
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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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“The days hardened with cold and boredom like last year's loaves of bread. One began to cut them with blunt knives without appetite, with a lazy indifference.” 39 likes
“Can you understand,' asked my father, 'the deep meaning of that weakness, that passion for colored tissue, for papier-mache, for distemper, for oakum and sawdust? This is,' he continued with a pained smile, 'the proof of our love for matter as such, for its fluffiness or porosity, for its unique mystical consistency. Demiurge, that great master and artist, made matter invisible, made it disappear under the surface of life. We, on the contrary, love its creaking, its resistance, its clumsiness. We like to see behind each gesture, behind each move, its inertia, its heavy effort, its bearlike awkwardness.” 27 likes
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