The Republic of Dreams
By Bruno Schulz
Etchings by Thomas Wood
Publication Price: $1800
Bruno Schulz was a Polish writer, fine artist, and literary critic, born in 1892 in the town of Drohobycz in Galicia, which today is in Ukraine. Schulz is regarded as one of the greatest Polish-language prose stylists of the twentieth century, and is often referred to as the “Polish Kafka.” His life’s work is small, with only two collections of short stories, a novella, a few essays, and a great deal of his artwork which remain. He was killed by a Nazi SS officer in World War II on his way home in the ghetto. He was allegedly carrying a loaf of bread at the time, which was payment from another SS officer for painting fairy tales on his children’s bedroom walls.
Nawakum Press has published Schulz’s short story The Republic of Dreams, written in 1936, in a limited edition artist’s book format, co-designed, printed and bound by Foolscap Press. Three etchings from artist Thomas Wood, who also worked on Nawakum’s The Book of Sand, are woven in throughout the book. The binding structure is unconventional, and while a codex in the traditional sense, there are three different page sizes in the book with etching sizes changing accordingly. The book is housed in a Japanese cloth, overlapping double panel box enclosure secured by rare earth magnets.
The book is printed in Polish and in English in green and black inks, each language sharing each page, with a new translation by Madeline G. Levine, Kenan Professor of Slavic Literatures Emerita at the University of North Carolina. In her words- “In a sense, in order to find an English voice for him I had to suppress my critical habits, hold my breath, dive deep and start swimming." Schulz had an active and vivid imagination, and his style of magic realist writing brings a constant metamorphosis within his work, blurring the borders of time, the real world and dreams, the spiritual and the physical.