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A balloonist finds himself set upon by erotic lepers...a passenger on a ship notices a human eye on the deck...a group of aristocrats enjoy a vegetarian dish made from human flesh...a virginal young girl gnaws raw meat from a bone...a notorious ruffian is terrorized by a rat. Welcome to the bizarre universe of Witold Gombrowicz, whose legendary short story collection is presented here for the first time in English. These tales, hilarious, disturbing, and brilliantly written, are utterly unique in world literature. After reading them, you'll never be the same.
Witold Gombrowicz (1904-1969), novelist, essayist, and playwright, was one of the most important Polish writers of the twentieth century. A candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1968, he was described by Milan Kundera as "one of the great novelists of our century" and by John Updike as "one of the profoundest of the late moderns. " Gombrowicz's works were considered scandalous and subversive by the ruling powers in Poland and were banned for nearly forty years. He spent his last years in France teaching philosophy; this book is a series of reflections based on his lectures. Gombrowicz discusses Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Sartre, and Heidegger in six "one-hour" essays and addresses Marxism in a shorter "fifteen-minute" piece. The text-a small literary gem full of sardonic wit, brilliant insights, and provocative criticism-constructs the philosophical lineage of his work.
Although Witold Gombrowicz's unique, idiosyncratic writings include a three-volume Diary, this voluminous document offers few facts about his early life in Poland before his books were banned there and he went into voluntary exile. Polish Memories-a series of autobiographical sketches Gombrowicz composed for Radio Free Europe during his years in Argentina in the late 1950s-fills the gap in our knowledge.Written in a straightforward way without his famous linguistic inventions, the book presents an engaging account of Gombrowicz's childhood, youth, literary beginnings, and fellow writers in interwar Poland and reveals how these experiences and individuals shaped his seemingly outlandish concepts about the self, culture, art, and society. In addition, the book helps readers understand the numerous autobiographical allusions in his fiction and brings a new level of understanding and appreciation to his life and work.
It is the grotesque story of a gentleman who becomes a child because other people treat him like one. Ferdydurke is intended to reveal the Great Immaturity of humanity. Man, as he is described in this book, is an opaque and neutral being who has to express himself by certain means of behavior and therefore becomes, from outside--for others--far more definite and precise than he is for himself. Hence a tragic disproportion between his secret immaturity and the mask he assumes when he deals with other people. All he can do is to adapt himself internally to his mask, as though he really were what he appears to be.It can therefore be said that the man of Ferdydurke is created by others, that men create each other by imposing forms on each other, or what we would call fagons d'etre.
Witold Gombrowicz (1904-1969), novelist, essayist, and playwright, is considered by many to be the most important Polish writer of the twentieth century. Author of four novels, several plays, and a highly acclaimed Diary, he was a candidate for the Nobel Prize in literature in 1968.Trans-Atlantyk is a semi-autobiographical, satirical novel that throws into heightened perspective all of Gombrowicz's major literary, philosophical, psychological, and social concerns. First published in Paris in 1953, it is based on the author's experience of being caught in Argentina at the outbreak of World War II. The narrator finds himself alone, without family and friends, at odds with the Argentinian literary world and with Polish émigré society. Throughout the book, Gombrowicz ridicules the self-centered pomposity of the Polish community in Argentina. More than this, he explores with prophetic vision the modern predicament of exile and displacement in a disintegrating world.The form and style of Trans-Atlantyk reinforce Gombrowicz's satire. The novel is written in the idiom of the gaweda, a seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Polish oral genre typical of the conservative culture of provincial nobility, that presents a jarring and sometimes hilarious contrast to the formless and expansive culture of the modern world. Because of its stylistic difficulty, Trans-Atlantyk is the only one of Gombrowicz's works that has never before been translated into English. Now Carolyn French and Nina Karsov have produced a daring and original translation, the product of over ten years of effort, that corresponds roughly in tone and diction to a seventeenth/eighteenth-century English idiom and that conveys Gombrowicz's irreverent and fierce parody of an anachronistic culture in the twentieth century.