Mannequins, mystery, and mysticism, oh my! A unique look into the fantastical and enigmatic work of this Polish-Jewish author.
New Goal: Thank you all so much for your support! Since I have reached my minimum goal of $1500, the new goal is $2400, which will allow me to travel to all three of my research destinations as well as help fund two related courses on the History of Jews in Poland and
Modern Polish Literature at the School of Polish Language and Literature
at Kraków's Jagiellonian University. Anything over this amount will be spent on books not available in the States and further research here at home. I am blown away by the kind words and generous support I have received thus far; thank you for making this project possible!
Imagine this: The Greek god Pan appears in a grubby jacket, a father expresses a strange fondness for mannequins, apocalyptic comets threaten, and a narrator unlocks a strange book which unfolds while being read. Such is the stuff that Bruno Schulz's stories are made of. Born in 1892 under the Austro-Hungarian rule of Galicia—in a town that was to become incorporated into Poland, and later, after Schulz’s death, to Ukraine—Schulz was actively working from within a milieu that was both oppressive and frighteningly volatile. His everyday existence as a teacher bored him, he spent his entire life in a small town, and he died under Nazi rule. His response was fantasy.
Ecstasy and Imagination is a Master's thesis exploring the relationship between the written word, as exemplified by Schulz's stories, sensory perception, ethics, and imagination. In reading Schulz's stories, one is transported to a non-existent time where much of anything is possible; small town boredom is transformed into myth and oppression is rewritten with the possibilities of the fantastic. In exploring Schulz's stories, this thesis seeks to ask very real questions about how literature not only helps us to escape reality but to reshape it. Can we imagine our way out of a volatile existence?
Your financial support will help fund the research (travel, room and board, various admission fees) and writing of this project. I hope to visit Drohobycz, the town where Schulz lived, wrote and spent the vast majority of his life, and to visit the Bruno Schulz museum there. Depending on the level of support I receive, I will also travel to the Museum of Literature in Warsaw and to the Czech Center in Prague to see an exhibit featuring works by Schulz and Franz Kafka. Each of these integral research opportunities will only be possible with your help.
Lauren Benjamin is a writer, filmmaker, scholar, and philologist whose scholarly and creative work has appeared in five countries. She received her BA in English and Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and has also studied film at California Institute of the Arts and FAMU University in Prague. Upon receiving her Master's from Sonoma State University, she hopes to attend a PhD program in Comparative Literature where she will continue working with Bruno Schulz's texts. She blogs at picturesplacesthings.wordpress.com.
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