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Ferdydurke (The Margellos World Republic of Letters) Paperback – April 24, 2012


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Product Details

  • Series: The Margellos World Republic of Letters
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; Reprint edition (April 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300181671
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300181678
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #146,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Witold Gombrowicz is the author of A Guide to Philosophy in Six Hours and Fifteen Minutes, Trans-Atlantyk, Cosmos, and Pornografia, the first three available from Yale University Press. These, along with his plays and his Diary, have been translated into more than thirty languages. Danuta Borchardt has translated several works by Witold Gombrowicz. She is also a writer of short stories, which are regularly published on the website Exquisite Corpse.

Customer Reviews

This book is absolutely brilliant!
Shimat
For W. Gombrowicz, it is essential for a human being and decisive for his future to choose a basis for his future life.
Luc REYNAERT
To me, this novel reads like a mixture of Poe, Camus, Nabokov and W.S. Burroughs.
Alex Pym

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 72 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
"Ferdydurke" by Witold Gombrowicz has finally been properly translated into English. Not that this is an event worth mentioning in general, but the point to be made is that the world of translation offers room for all kinds of mischief and sloppiness. Who would have thought that it were perfectly acceptable for publishers to allow translation from a second, and not native tongue? Imagine, for purposes of illustration, that a work of a classic British author translated into German not directly, but from Suahili, for this was the language the book was first translated into. Would you be satisfied with a product of this type? This was the fate of Gombrowicz, his native tongue was done away with, and the Anglo-Saxon world of bibliophiles had had no other choice but to read a lemon. Perhaps this is the revenge of the Heavens on the author himself, for never was there any other Polish author who had his native country in such a low regard as he did. In his "Trans-Atlantyk", Gombrowicz dared to ridicule everything a Pole holds dear, together with the whole idea of a nation as such. Were he to live today, he would embrace the idea of convergence and the global village of consumptionism, as opposed to Europe of Nations. That was one of the main reasons for Gombrowicz's emigration to Argentina, where he spent almost all of his literary career.
"Ferdydurke" is an early novel by this author, and it's never as crass as the aforementioned "Trans-Atlantyk". In fact, it constitutes part of a literary canon in Poland to this very day, and there is no educated Pole who hasn't read or at least heard of "Ferdydurke".
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By D. Friedman on September 10, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The world of Ferdydurke seems at first to be concocted out of equal parts of Kafka and Swift. There is the absurdity of Kakfa: events occur for no apparent reason, and the main character seems to be under some mysterious hypnotic spell. And there is the savage humor of Swift. Violent conflict erupts between the followers of two opposed and equally absurd and ridiculous systems of belief. But as the book progresses, it becomes clear that Gombrowicz has put his own special stamp on this world, and created a type of fiction that is totally unique.

The plot line is simple: a man of about 30 years of age is abducted by a priggish professor and finds himself, for reasons unexplained, transformed into an adolescent schoolboy. The novel consists of the "adventures" of this anti-hero in the world of adolescence, which he views with both fascination and disgust, and from which he remains detached, and yet at the same time with which he becomes intensely involved. (Ferdydurke is above all else a novel of unresolved contradictions.) Although the narrator is subjected to all the humiliations of an adolescent schoolboy (patronized by adults, frustrated by hopeless desire for a girl who disdains him, etc.), he also retains an adult outlook. In fact, it may be said that he is the only character who is adult (in the psychological sense of being self-aware) and who struggles, not always with success, to remain sane. Part of the genius of the book is that the adults in it seem crazy from the narrator's perspective as a youth, and the adolescents seem crazy from the narrator's perspective as an adult. In spite of its simple plot, Ferdydurke bursts with a dazzling exuberance of incidents, contradictions, characters, and digressions.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
Ferdydurke is out of print! It has been a battle to get this book openly published in Poland, but look at how English-speaking consumers conduct their own censorship scheme. Yet there is a touch of Anglo-Saxon to the novel's madness: the upper class school boys, the title borrowed from the netherlands of H.G.Wells' corpus and much, much more. The novel questions whether there is such a thing as maturity, sending its main character back to school as an adult, where he is among boys who treat him as another boy (as does everyone else!). It also asks one of the great questions of our time: our characters are made by others; is it possible to escape this or are we merely prisoners of other people's influences? Something for us living under states who idolize individual choice to think about. But Gombrowicz's book is also full of comedy: slapstick, sharp irony, plot twists and philosophical fables. Jokes are used as an ideal way to pose serious questions. Furthermore, in its giant bums and staring contests it shows how much more you can talk about reality, including prudent insights into totalitarian life, through wild fantasy. The experiments of the novel - the unique fantasy, the invasion of the author and the symmetrical interjections - put it at the heart of European modernism. It is a landmark, albeit buttock-shaped.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Chris on July 20, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having tolerated, in my college years, the English translation of the French translation of the original Polish novel, I must say that reading this new direct translation into English was a sublime experience. I highly recommend this book to my intellectual and therapist friends/colleagues alike, for it highlights the common struggle between maturity and immaturity. It defuses most of the usual interpretations by those who are hopelessly married to a single interpretive theory. It also should be required reading for those folks "into" Queer Studies, as Gombrowicz, in this novel, wrestles with his own (later documented) homosexuality. In brief, this is one of the great unsung 20th-century novels.
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