History of Love 9 - The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Shultz

 "The crazy grey poppies of excitation scatter into ashes." Bruno Schultz

Lesson Overview 

"The Street of Crocodiles" by Bruno Schultz is an important text in The History of Love.  A real short story or more accurately a panegyric by Bruno Schultz to the town that he grew up in before the Nazis took it over.  It is a favorite of two of Krauss's main characters and it echoes the book within the book (also titled The History of Love - written by the character Leo Gurskey).  Not wanting to give more homework (to read it) and it being a fairly difficult text (it is quite abstract) I came up with this cooperative reading project that can be finished in one class period.  Students get into groups - see the handout - and those groups (ideally 4 students) each take a part of the reading (delineated A,B,C, D - with those parts clearly marked in the text).  As they read they will annotate the text using the guidelines that I give them in the handout (and of course whatever else they feel is important).  They will attempt to read the entire text (there are instructions on the handout, telling them to read but where to start annotating) - but as everyone reads a different pace - a few might not finish.

 The groups will then get together (one of each letter) and talk about the story using the 5 guidelines that they were given - and they will jot down how they would answer those things in the context of the entire story.  As always - time will be short, but the hurried pace actually works quite well with this abstract text - don't think to hard - view it, see it, read it as a stream of consciousness.   Working together as a group, they can discover and figure out so much more than on their own.  

There is also an extra credit assignment at the bottom of the assignment based on a video reaction piece to "The Street of Crocodiles" by the Quay brothers.  I've included a link to the video below.  Please note both "The Street of Crocodiles" and the video contain mature material and judge your class or modify this assignment accordingly.

No Quiz today - so this is a great assignment to give when you want the students to have an extra day of at home reading time.


Most Recent Handouts  

Instructions for the Cooperative reading  Docx  PDF The instructions are pretty self-explanatory - though detailed.  They are designed to help them get it read (and understood) in one period.

"The Street of Crocodiles" by Bruno Schultz with reader delineations   Docx  PDF  They are to try to read the entire text - but to start annotating at a given section so that they can be an "expert" on that section.  Each group will have one expert from each part of the text.

Audio Visual Content

Make sure you watch this before you assign it as extra credit.  You know your students best - it contains mature and graphic images in stop motion.  See the handout for the Extra Credit assignment.

Remote Enhancements 

Both the Vertext and the Divided Reading Slide work very well for enhancing Remote Learning.


Tree of Codes at Wikipedia.  Either this day (makes the most sense) or another after today's class (ah time!), I will show the students my copy of the wonderful book, Tree of Codes by Jonathan Safran Foer (we will watch a movie based on another of his novels at the end of this unit and coincidentally he was married to The History of Love's author, Nicole Krauss, while she was writing that book).  It is a very cool book!  It is in effect - "The Street of Crocodles" that has different cut outs on every single page.  By cutting out so many words, a new story is born.   Safran also  creates the metaphor for Bruno Schultz and the works that he would have written if not for the Holocaust.  I pass the book around - making sure the students hands are clean first (yes, I let them go the bathroom if they need to wash them).  The book and the idea are rare and powerful.

Class Recordings (for registered members)




The History of Love Day 10 - The Ark - A Class Discussion pages 134 to 159.  After this intense reading of "The Street of Crocodiles" we hop back into the novel.  There will be two ways given in the next lesson to discuss what comes next.


  The History of Love Day 8 - A Row Reading Discussion (93-134)

Thoughts on the Lesson 

Sometimes you just need to figure out a way to introduce an important work - that is referenced in your current text 1) without giving more homework (they have enough reading with The History of Love  2) in a way that they can figure out that work (especially a challenging one like "The Street of Crocodiles" without the teacher always explaining it to them.  Like most days in my class - the students have to be (and they are) focused in order to get done.  It is a great way to fight anxiety and to "train for stress".