From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Witold Marian Gombrowicz (August 4, 1904 – July 24, 1969) was a Polish writer and playwright. His works are characterised by deep psychological analysis, a certain sense of paradox and absurd, anti-nationalist flavor. As a leftist, bisexual, and anticlerical who defied all party lines, his books were banned in communist Poland. In 1937 he published his first novel, Ferdydurke, which presented many of his usual themes: problems of immaturity and youth, creation of identity in interactions with others, and an ironic, critical examination of class roles in Polish society and culture. He gained fame only during the last years of his life, but is now considered one of the foremost figures of Polish literature. His diaries were published in 1969 and are, according to the Paris Review, "widely considered his masterpiece".
Gombrowicz's works are characterised by deep psychological analysis, a certain sense of paradox and an absurd, anti-nationalist flavor. In 1937 he published his first novel, Ferdydurke, which presents many themes explored in his further writings: the problems of immaturity and youth, the masks taken on by men in front of others, and an ironic, critical examination of class roles in Polish society and culture, specifically among the nobility, representatives of the Catholic Church and provincial Poles. Ferdydurke provoked sharp critical reactions and immediately divided Gombrowicz's audience into rival camps of worshipers and sworn enemies.
In his work, Gombrowicz struggled with Polish traditions and the country's difficult history. This battle was the starting point for his stories, which were deeply rooted in this tradition and history. Gombrowicz is remembered by scholars and admirers as a writer and a man unwilling to sacrifice his imagination or his originality for any price, person, god, society, or doctrine.
Oeuvre: bibliography, translations, adaptations
Gombrowicz's novels and plays have been translated into 35 languages.
- Bacacay (short stories, 1933); original title Pamiętnik z okresu dojrzewania, later retitled Bakakaj
- Bacacay, tr. Bill Johnston, Archipelago Books, 2004, Template:ISBN.
- Ivona, Princess of Burgundia (play, 1935); Iwona, księżniczka Burgunda
- Ferdydurke (novel, 1937)
- Possessed (novel, 1939); Opętani
- The Marriage (play, 1948); Ślub
- Trans-Atlantyk (novel, 1953)
- Pornografia (novel, 1960)
- Pornografia, Danuta Borchardt translator, Grove Press, 2009, Template:ISBN.
- Cosmos (novel, 1965); Kosmos
- Operetta (play, 1966); Operetka
- Diaries, 1953–1969 (diary, 1969); Dzienniki
- A Guide to Philosophy in Six Hours and Fifteen Minutes, Benjamin Ivry translator, Yale University Press, 2004, Template:ISBN.
- Polish Memories, tr. Bill Johnston, Yale University Press, 2004, Template:ISBN.
- Possessed: The Secret of Myslotch: A Gothic Novel, tr. Marion Boyars (reissue), 1988, Template:ISBN.
- A Kind of Testament, tr. Alastair Hamilton, Dalkey Archive Press (reprint), 2007, Template:ISBN.
- Ferdydurke (1991) in Polish, directed by Jerzy Skolimowski. Also known as 30 Door Key.
- Pornografia (2003) in Polish, directed by Jan Jakub Kolski. Also known as Pornography.
- Cosmos (2015) in French, directed by Andrzej Żuławski.
The documentary filmmaker Nicolas Philibert made a documentary set in the radical French psychiatric clinic La Borde entitled Every Little Thing (French La Moindre des choses); released in 1997, the film follows the patients and staff as they stage a production of Gombrowicz's Operette.
- Yvonne, Prinzessin von Burgund (1973), composed by Boris Blacher, in four acts, premiered in Wuppertal
- Die Trauung (The Marriage) by Volker David Kirchner, premiered on 27 April 1975 at the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden, conducted by Siegfried Köhler
- Opérette (2002), composed by Oscar Strasnoy, premiered in 2003 at Grand Théâtre de Reims, France
- Geschichte/History (2003), a cappella opera composed by Oscar Strasnoy, premiered in 2004 at Theaterhaus de Stuttgart
- Die Besessenen (The Possessed) (2008–2009), composed by Johannes Kalitzke, premiered in 2010 at the Theater an der Wien, Vienna, Austria, on 19 February
- Yvonne, princesse de Bourgogne (2009), composed by Philippe Boesmans, premiered at the Paris Opera