Image, Text, and Book: Bruno Schulz’s The Idolatrous Book and His Illustrations in Sanatorium under the Sign of the Hourglass Cover Image

イメージ、テクスト、書物 ― ブルーノ・シュルツ『偶像賛美の書』と短編集 ― 『砂時計の下のサナトリウム』の挿絵
Image, Text, and Book: Bruno Schulz’s The Idolatrous Book and His Illustrations in Sanatorium under the Sign of the Hourglass

Author(s): Ariko Kato
Subject(s): Review
Published by: Slavic Research Center

Summary/Abstract: This paper attempts to demonstrate Bruno Schulz (1892–1942)’s, a Polish writer and artist, specific view of a book as the topos integrating image and text, by discussing Schulz’s illustrations in Sanatorium under the Sign of the Hourglass (1937) and the cliché-verre series titled The Idolatrous Book (1920–22, 1924). The discussions of Schulz’s works have generally centered on his prose and developed separately in the fields of art and literary criticism. By focusing on the forgotten fact that he felt great interest in illustrating books, this paper reconsiders Schulz’s two books in the triangular relationship between image, text, and book. The first chapter examines Schulz’s 33 illustrations in his Sanatorium as elements of the book pages. Most of Schulz’s illustrations are realistic visualizations of the characters’ described actions and settings, with the exception of three illustrations in the stories “Edzio” and “Father’s Last Escape.” These three illustrations that have no literal relationships to the text depict the plots or action symbolically or structurally. Examples of the latter are the two illustrations in “Edzio.” As a pair, they visually represent a metaphysical view on the “story/history [historia]” described in the text. These two integrate with the text more deeply than the others. The next chapter reconsiders The Idolatrous Book as a book consisting of only images. Particular attention is paid to the technique of cliché-verre, which is a combination of photography and engraving. If we consider that the ancient books were “engraved” on wax, clay, or stone plates, Schulz’s act of creating the cliché-verre images is, in effect, an act of simultaneous writing and drawing. Schulz’s two books – Sanatorium and The Idolatrous Book – are therefore not mere verbal or visual arts; they transcend the traditional dichotomy of words versus images. This chapter also points out reproducibility as another distinctive aspect of the cliché-verre. Schulz, as if defying this characteristic, made every set of The Idolatrous Book different. He gave each set different title pages with different images and set numbers. Moreover, each set is unbound, which makes it possible to change the order of pictures or even change the very pictures included. By accumulating only variations, Schulz erases the difference between the concepts of “original” and “copy.” Each set stands alone as a unique work of art. The third chapter demonstrates that “book,” as an integration of image and text, is presented in Schulz’s short stories as “The Book,” which is in fact fragments of illustrated journals and a stamp album. Furthermore, the narrator and his Father Jakub always drew images on paper with words – on books or journals – supporting the view that Schulz deemed words and images equal elements of works of art.

  • Issue Year: 2010
  • Issue No: 57
  • Page Range: 1-26
  • Page Count: 25
  • Language: Japanese