Bruno Schulz, 1892-1942: Interdisciplinary Reassessments location:University of Chicago date:19-20 November 2012
As a comparative analysis of Bruno Schulz’s stories and Erwin Mortier’s novel Marcel (1999) indicates, each of them subtly exploits the metafictional potential underlying the age-old analogy between text and textile. In both cases, the idea of decent and flawless text(ile) production gives way to the desire for an alternative (or secondary) form of creation, which takes rubbish and trash (or “a frivolous anarchy of snippets and threads”, as Mortier calls it) as its main material. As a result, Schulz and Mortier subtly foreground the defective character of their respective textual artifacts, in the meanwhile undermining the illusory authenticity of what they respectively call “a boring dress” and “a good garment”. Significantly, however, whereas Schulz employs this reflexive device in order to unmask the artificial and inauthentic character of any kind of human creation, Mortier’s novel uses the very same technique within a particular context, as part of an attempt to create a less mystified and more balanced literary image of the Flemish collaborationist movement during WW II.