The OF Blog: An interesting passage from Bolaño's Estrella distante regarding Bruno Schulz

Sunday, December 09, 2012

An interesting passage from Bolaño's Estrella distante regarding Bruno Schulz

In prepping to write two reviews/commentaries on Polish-Jewish writer Bruno Schulz's fiction, I read a reference to Roberto Bolaño writing about the experience of reading Schulz in his 1996 short novel, Estrella distante (Distant Star in English translation).  So I turned to the last chapter, where the reference was made, and discovered what might be a perfect opening for one of the essays.  The translation that follows is mine, as I only have the Spanish editions of Bolaño's fictions:

Abrí el libro, la Obra completa de Bruno Schulz traducida por Juan Carlos Vidal, e intenté leer.  Al cabo de varias páginas me di cuenta que no entendía nada.  Leía pero las palabras pasaban como escarabajos incomprensibles, atareados en un mundo enigmático.


Igual que yo, descubrí con alarma y apagué el cigarrillo e intenté fundirme entre las páginas de mi libro.  Las palabras de Bruno Schulz adquirieron por un instante una dimensión monstruosa, casi insoportable.  Sentí que los apagados ojos de Wieder me estaban escrutando y al mismo tiempo, en las páginas que daba vueltas (tal vez demasiado aprisa), los escarabajos que antes eran las letras se convertían en ojos, en los ojos de Bruno Schulz, y se abrían y se cerraban una y otra vez, unos ojos claros como el cielo, brillantes como el lomo del mar, que se abrían y parpadeaban, una y otra vez, en medio de la oscuridad total.  No, total no, en medio de una oscuridad lechosa, como en el interior de una nube negra. (pp. 151-152)

I opened the book, the Complete Works of Bruno Schulz translated by Juan Carlos Vidal, and I tried to read, At the end of a few pages I realized that I was not understanding anything.  I was reading but the words were passing by like incomprehensible beetles, busy in an enigmatic world.


Same as myself, I discovered with alarm and lit the cigarette and tried to lose myself in the pages of my book.  The words of Bruno Schulz acquired for a moment a monstrous dimension, almost unbearable.  I felt that the dull eyes of Wieder were scrutinizing me and at the same time, that in the pages that I was turning (perhaps too quickly), the letters that were before beetles had turned into eyes, into the eyes of Bruno Schulz, and they were opening and closing again and again, some eyes clear like the sky, shining like the sea's spine, which was opening and blinking, again and again, in the middle of total darkness.  No, not total, in the middle of a milky darkness, like the interior of a black cloud.

I shall be working on these essays for much of the day today, so hopefully one of them might be ready for posting either tonight or sometime Monday (the one I'll post here probably won't have this translated passage).  Let me know if this passage has piqued your interest any.

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