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The Street of Crocodiles (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin) Paperback – March 1, 1992

ISBN-13: 978-0140186253 ISBN-10: 0140186255 Edition: Reissue

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Product Details

  • Series: Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (March 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140186255
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140186253
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #273,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Polish (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Schulz wrote in Polish and his fiction is pretty much sui generis.
R. M. Peterson
The external reality so closely associated with the subjects and settings of his work are widely regarded as bleak and burnished.
fmeursault@yahoo.com
The richness of the sentences, their imagery and use of language reveal a great depth of talent.
David Thierry

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

104 of 110 people found the following review helpful By Alyssa A. Lappen TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
I hadn't heard of Bruno Schulz until, in the mid 1990s, I saw Simon McBurney's Theatre de Complicite play based on this novel.

The book's characters are unbelievably haunting, despite its complete lack of dialogue. No wonder Polish writer Bruno Schulz is best known for this novel, though it is little more than 120 pages. It is easily one of the most poetic and riveting novels of the 20th century. It was also Schulz' first. It was published in 1934 as "Cinnamon Shops."

Schulz was an artist before he was a writer. And in this novel, he paints with his words. (He had come to writing in thanks partly to the encouragement of the poet Deborah Vogel.)

The novel opens with a scene from his family home. In July, when his father had gone "to take the waters," Schulz was left with his mother and elder brother, "prey to the blinding white heat of the summer days." Together, they dipped into a large volume of "holidays, its pages blazing with sunshine and scented with the sweet melting pulp of golden pears." On luminous mornings, his mother Adela returned from the market "like Pomona emerging from the flames of day." Everything that follows is a sensory feast.

Schulz' images are sometimes surreal and the events of the book, bizarre and often amazing. His father, for example, being enamored of birds, virtually becomes one. He moves into the attic where birds of prey visit.

The first edition was illustrated by several of Schulz' masterful drawings and etchings, made in his earlier artistic mode, all of them reproduced elsewhere. One entitled "The Table" illustrated a scene at the family house which the book elegantly retells.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By "50cent-haircut" on January 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
Bruno Schulz's fictional world is as strange, unique, and fascinating as any you'll ever encounter. He builds each story from a physical, natural detail or a phenomena, and imbues it with such hypnotic and poetic intensity, that what should be an ordinary world is transformed into a dream-drunk and febrile one. There is no gratuitous surrealistic maneuver, but an original world view, and this alone, would you agree, is a rare and treasurable thing in literature.
The stories all deal with the narrator (Bruno) and his family when Bruno was a child. Each story starts out with a beautiful description of the milieu, then moves into stranger grounds where psychological unease mixes with facts. Kafkaesque would be the word applicable to describe Schulz's work (as there even is a story about a man turning insect-like... in this case, the father, not the son) but as researchers surmised, there is no real evidence that Schulz was influenced by Kafka.
What makes Bruno Schulz's prose so heartbreaking is its ceaseless and painful yearning to remember the past; almost every description is a metaphor that is drenched in almost extrasensory feeling. In consequence, every object, every motion, and every emotion remembered by Schulz throbs with a realism that is hot-wired to our subconscious, to our collective and private myths.
If you like reading, you must read Schulz.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By fmeursault@yahoo.com on January 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
In this diminutive collection of stories, Schulz paints a complex portrait of the landscape in his childhood in Poland. The stories evolve more from the physical landscape than that of the characters, giving an intense life to inanimate objects. A sense of hidden madness, and threads of unspoken desires and fears permeate the book. Schulz writes of his father's creeping insanity, the strange landscape of his small shop, and the forboding accompanying the end of the world with the approach of a comet. While Schulz's imagery and simile get a little repetitive, the atmosphere of living objects and mysterious confluence of life is compelling and hypnotic.
His input continued to illuminate not only the character of his uncle but also the world in which he wrote and lived. There is often a lyrical, often somewhat pastoral quality to much of Bruno Schulz's writing. The external reality so closely associated with the subjects and settings of his work are widely regarded as bleak and burnished. The world he represents in his stories is not necessarily in keeping with the images often associated with Poland during his lifetime, he was a writer influenced by the imagination...
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Damian Kelleher on January 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
The Street of Crocodiles is the story of a year of Schulz' childhood, an obviously fictional year, but a time that was mundane yet fantastic, commonplace and bizarre. Through his child's eyes, events, sensations, ideas and thoughts are conveyed with brilliant, dazzling imagery, vivid, almost too-bright pictures are painted with words in a way that is both surreal, magical and ordinary.

The novel is split into thirteen chapters, each of which focuses on a different part of the Polish city of Drogobych, or on an aspect of Schulz' home life. 'Birds', for instance, is the story of his father's obsession with the winged creatures, beginning with the importation of rare bird's eggs from Africa, Holland, Hamburg, and ending with a vast aviary in the attic, with arranged marriages between different species of birds and, finally, with his father joining the birds, perching and squawking and flapping his wings. Or, 'The Street of Crocodiles', the false namesake of the book - which was actually titled 'Cinammon Shops' in Poland - a decadent, dirty arrangement of streets and buildings where anything and anyone is a commodity for purchase and use. However, The depravity, the immorality, the cheapness of the Street of Crocodiles is so great that they fail even at being depraved, revealed to instead be a mockery of a corrupt suburb, a sham crudity, a false crime. The other stories are similarly bizarre, by turns brilliantly insightful - The Birds chapter, while suitably odd, could also quite easily be read as a man's attempt to occupy himself upon a forced retirement, and failing because he doesn't know of any other life but work - or delightfully, guiltily weird and interesting.

As an author, Schulz had an amazing gift for painting pictures with words.
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