Quotes from The Street of Crocodiles

Bruno Schulz ·  160 pages

Rating: (5.6K votes)


“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.”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles


“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.”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles


“Even in the depths of sleep, in which he had to satisfy his need for protection and love by curling himself up into a trembling ball, he could not rid himself of the feeling of loneliness and homelessness.”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles


“...."the sound of a barrel organ rising from the deepest golden vein of the day; two or three bars of a chorus, played on a distant piano over and over again, melting in the sun on the white pavement, lost in the fire of high noon.”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles


“Animals! the object of insatiable interest, examples of the riddle of life, created, as it were, to reveal the human being to man himself, displaying his richness and complexity in a thousand kaleidoscopic possibilities, each of them brought to some curious end, to some characteristic exuberance.”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles



“Reality is as thin as paper, and betrays with all its cracks its imitative character.”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles


“Man was entering under false pretenses the sphere of incredible facilities, acquired too cheaply, below cost price, almost for nothing, and the disproportion between outlay and gain, the obvious fraud on nature, the excessive payment for a trick of genius, had to be offset by self-parody.”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles


“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.”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles


“On those luminous mornings Adela returned from the market, like Pomona emerging from the flames of day, spilling from her basket the coloful beauty of the sun –the shiny pink cherries full of juice under their transparent skins, the mysterious apricots in whose golden pulp lay the core of long afternoons. And next to that pure poetry of fruit, she unloaded sides of meat with their keyboard of ribs swollen with energy and strength, and seaweeds of vegetables like dead octopuses and squids–the raw material of meals with a yet undefined taste, the vegetative and terrestrial ingredients of dinner, exuding a wild and rustic smell.”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles


“After tidying up, Adela would plunge the rooms into semidarkness by drawing down the linen blinds. All colors immediately fell an octave lower, the room filled with shadows, as if it had sunk to the bottom of the sea and the light was reflected in mirrors of green water–and the heat of the day began to breathe on the blinds as they stirred slightly in their daydreams.”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles



“Matter never makes jokes: it is always full of the tragically serious. Who dares to think that you can play with matter, that you can shape it for a joke, that the joke will not be built in, will not eat into it like fate, like destiny? Can you imagine the pain, the dull imprisoned suffering, hewn into the matter of that dummy which does not know why it must be what it is, why it must remain in that forcibly imposed form which is no more than a parody? Do you understand the power of form, of expression, of pretense, the arbitrary tyranny imposed on a helpless block, and ruling it like its own, tyrannical, despotic soul?”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles


“After we passed a few more houses, the street ceased to mantain any pretense of urbanity, like a man returning to his little village who, piece by piece, strips off his Sunday best, slowly changing back into a peasant as he gets closer to his home.”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles


“Groping blindly in the darkness, he sank between the white mounds of cool feathers and slept as he fell, across the bed or with his head downward, pushing deep into the softness of the pillows, as if in sleep he wanted to drill through, to explore completely, that powerful massif of feather bedding rising out of the night.”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles


“On Saturday afternoons I used to go for a walk with my mother. From the dusk of the hallway, we stepped at once into the brightness of the day. The passerby, bathed in melting gold, had their eyes half-closed against the glare, as if they were drenched with honey, upper lips were drawn back, exposing the teeth. Everyone in this golden day wore that grimace of heat–as if the sun had forced his worshippers to wear identical masks of gold. The old and the young, women and children, greeted each other with these masks, painted on their faces with thick gold paint; they smiled at each other's pagan faces–the barbaric smiles of Bacchus.”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles


“Was he happy? One would ask that question in vain. A question like this makes sense only when applied to creatures who are rich in alternative possibilities, so that the actual truth can be contrasted with partly real probabilities and reflect itself in them.”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles



“The crowd laughs at the parody. Weep, ladies, over your own fate, when you see the misery of imprisoned matter, of tortured matter which does not know what it is and why it is, nor where the gesture may lead that has been imposed on it forever.
The crowd laughs. Do you understand the terrible sadism, the exhilarating, demiurgical cruelty of that laughter? Yet we should weep, ladies, at our own fate, when we see that misery of violated matter, against which a terrible wrong had been committed.”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles


“Nimrod began to understand that what he was experiencing was, in spite of its appearance of novelty, something which had existed before–many times before. His body began to recognize situations, impressions, and objects. In reality, none of there astonished him very much. Faced with new circumstances, he would dip into the fount of his memory, the deep-seated memory of the body, would search blindky and feverishly, and often find ready made within himself a suitable reaction: the wisdom of generations, deposited in his plasma, in his nerves. He found actions and decisions of which he had not been aware but which had been lying in wait, ready to emerge.”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles


“It is strange how interiors reflect their dark turbulent past, how in their stillness bygone history tries to be reenacted, how the same situations repeat themselves with infinite variations, turned upside down and inside out by fruitless dialectic of wallpapers and hangings.”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles


“The room was dark and velvety from the royal blue wallpaper with its gold pattern, but even here the echo of the flaming day shimmered brassily on the picture frames, on doorknobs and glided borders, although it came through the filter of the dense greenery of the garden.”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles


“On a small square, wood is being cut for the city school. Cords of healthy, crisp timber are piled high and melt slowly, one log after another, under the saws and axes of workmen. Ah, timber, trustworthy, honest, true matter of reality, bright and completely decent, the embodiment of the decency and prose of life! However deep you look into its core, you cannot find anything that is not apparent on its evenly smiling surface, shining with that warm, assured glow of its fibrous pulp woven in a likeness of the human body. In each fresh section of a cut log a new face og the human body. In each fresh section of a cut log a new face appears, always smiling and golden. Oh, the strange complexion of timber, warm eithout exaltation, completely sound, fragrant, and pleasant!”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles



“Now the windows, blinded by the glare of the empty square, had fallen asleep. The balconies declared their emptiness to heaven; the open doorways smelt of coolness and wine.”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles


“I did not have enough courage to go round to the back of the villa. I should certainly have been noticed by someone. Why in spite of this, did I have the feeling of having been there already–a long time ago? Don't we infact know in advance all the landscapes we see in our life? Can anything occur that is entirely new, that in depths of our being, we have not anticipated for a long time?”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles


“The cashier had long since left for home. By now she was probably bustling by an unmade bed that was waiting in her small room like a boat to carry her off to the black lagoons of sleep, into the complicated world of dreams. The person sitting in the box office was only a wraith, an illusory phantom looking with tired, heavily made-up eyes at the empyiness of light, fluttering her lashes thoughtlessly to disperse the golden dust of drowsiness scattered by the elctric bulbs.”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles


“For us old-age pensioners, autumn is on the whole a dangerous season. He who knows how difficult it is for us to achieve any stability at all, how difficult it is to avoid distraction or destruction by one's own hand, will understant tha autumn, its winds, disturbances, and atmospheric confusions, does not favour our existence, which is precarious anyway.”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles


“It was difficult to anticipate—in these monsters with enormous, fantastic beaks which they opened wide immediately after birth, hissing greedily to show the backs of their throats, in these lizards with frail, naked bodies of hunchbacks—the future peacocks, pheasants, grouse or condors. Placed in cotton wool, in baskets, this dragon brood lifted blind, walleyed heads on thin necks, croaking voicelessly from their dumb throats.”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles



“Stupida, facilona primavera! Ricopre tutto senza discernimento, confonde il senso con il nonsenso, eternamente buffona, finta tonta, di una leggerezza senza limiti.”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles


“On that night the sky laid bare its internal construction in many sections which, like quasi-anatomical exhibits, showed the spirals and whorls of light, the pale-green solids of darkness, the plasma of space, the tissue of dreams.”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles


“If, forgetting the respect due to the Creator, I were to attempt a criticism of creation, I would say ‘Less matter, more form!”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles


“Ei, tämä ei ollut eskatologinen, profeettojen jo kauan sitten ennustama traaginen finaali, jumalallisen näytelmän viimeinen näytös. Ei, tämä oli pikemminkin pyöräilyakrobaattinen sirkusfinaali, taikurimainen hupsis-loppu, jota säesti kaikkien edistyksen henkien kättentaputus. Melkein kaikki uskoivat siihen hetkeäkään epäröimättä. Tyrmistyneet ja vastalauseita huutavat karjuttiin heti paikalla mataliksi. Miksi he eivät ymmärtäneet, että tämä oli yksinkertaisesti ennen kuulumaton tilaisuus, äärimmäisen edistyksellinen maailmanloppu, vapaamielinen päätös, ajan huipulla oleva, korkeinta viisautta syvästi kunnioitava ja suojeleva tapahtuma? Sitä tulkittiin haltiokkaasti, sitä kuvattiin irti reväistyille muistikirjan lehdille, selitettiin, että se oli kumoamaton; vastustajille ja epäilijöille jaettiin korvapuusteja. Kuvalehdissä ilmestyi kokosivun piirroksia, kuvitelmia katastrofista, vaikuttavia näyttämösovituksia. Näimme väkirikkaita kaupunkeja yöllisen pakokauhun vallassa, valomerkkejä ja valoilmiöitä kipunoivan taivaan alla. Etäisen meteorin hämmästyttävät vaikutukset olivat jo kaikkien nähtävissä. Pyrstötähti, jonka vertauskuvallinen kärki tähtäsi heltiämättä maapalloa, leijali liikkumattomana taivaalla ja lähestyi maata niin ja niin monen kilometrin nopeudella sekunnissa. Lakit ja hatut lentelivät ilmaan kuin sirkusilveilyssä, hiukset nousivat pystyyn, sateenvarjot aukenivat itsestään ja kaljut paljastuivat lentoon lehahtavien peruukkien alta - ja yllä oli musta, jättimäinen taivas, jonka laella välkkyi kakkien tähtien yhtäaikainen hälytys.”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles


“There open up, deep inside a city, reflected streets, streets which are double, make-believe streets. One's imagination, bewitched and misled, creates illusory maps of the apparently familiar districts, maps in which the streets have their proper places and usual names but are provided with new and fictitious configurations by the inexhaustible inventiveness of the night.”
― Bruno Schulz, quote from The Street of Crocodiles



About the author

Bruno Schulz
Born place: in Drohobycz (formerly Poland), Ukraine
Born date July 12, 1892
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