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Wegrocki, H.J. (1946). Masochistic Motives in the Literary and Graphic Art of Bruno Schulz. Psychoanal. Rev., 33(2):154-164.

(1946). Psychoanalytic Review, 33(2):154-164

Masochistic Motives in the Literary and Graphic Art of Bruno Schulz

Henry J. Wegrocki, M.C.

The artistic productions of Bruno Schulz are interesting psycho-analytically not only because they afford a further illustration of the fact that products of art reflect deep personality trends and frequently represent sublimated satisfactions of inadequately channeled instinctive urges, but also because Schulz is a writer as well as a graphic artist and reveals in both these fields a motif which evidently plays a dominant role in his personality make-up—an intense masochistic trend. A young contemporary Polish writer, his imaginative autobiographical series of sketches: “Sklepy cynamonowe” (Cinnamon Stores) [1] aroused a great deal of interest not only because of its unusual style but also because of its startling content. The sensational aspects of the book are concerned with a fanciful description of his father undergoing a severe schizophrenic episode. On this background, however, though in a much more subtle way, he reveals strongly developed passive, masochistic trends.

Sensitive, and gifted with unusual insight, he penetrates, however, beyond the immediate constructs of his imagination. In an article in a literary journal [2] he comments thus on the background conditioning his creativeness:

“I don't know how it happens that certain childhood pictures and memories assume a special significance for a person. However it may be, they do play the role of those nuclei in a solution about which the meaning of the world crystallizes. To this type of picture there belongs one which for me is especially important. It is that of a child, carried in the depth of the night, in the arms of its father. Through the caresses of the father though, it hears the horrible persuasions of the forces of darkness and, tortured, full of fatalism, responds with tragic eagerness to the pleas of the “Erlkonig,” surrendering to the force from which there is no escape.


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