Cinnamon Shops Analysis
by Bruno Schulz

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Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

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Schulz makes his hero’s mythological hallucinations plausible by enveloping them in bold similes and metaphors brimming with intensely pictorial effects. Thus, mid-winter is “edged on both sides with the furry dusk of mornings and evenings”; a park’s bushes are “full of confusion, secret gestures, conniving looks”; cabs loom in the street “like crippled, dozing crabs or cockroaches”; the air “shimmered like silver gauze”; hills “rose like sighs of bliss”; the narrator is “touched by the divine finger of poetry.” The imagery is sharp, immediate, and unforgettably lyrical.

Animism and anthropomorphism charge the story’s texture. Gardens become parks that become forests. The night’s stillness is interrupted by the “sighs and whispers of the crumbling gods” depicted in the statuary collected by the art professor. Mounted weasels and martens leave their school cabinets to mate nocturnally in park thickets. Schulz’s language teems with a pan-masquerade of changed dimensions and roles, an intense hymn that expresses the narrator’s delight with a universe alive with amazement and mystery. Although limited in scope and range, Schulz’s talent is one of the most richly imaginative among European prose writers who matured between World Wars I and II.