Pornografia: A Novel
One of the indisputable totems of twentieth-century world literature, Witold Gombrowicz wrote Pornografia after leaving his native Poland for Argentina in 1939 and then watching from afar as the German invasion destroyed his country. Translated for the first time into English from the original Polish by award-winning translator Danuta Borchardt, Pornografia is one of Gombr...more
Did anyone hear about the kids that were given cocaine in their trick or treat bags this Halloween? The police are saying that it was an accident, which is true, as I meant to give them cyanide.
[DISCLAIMER: I do not advocate giving children drugs or cyanide. I was, for better or worse, merely joshing].
The title has been criticised as inappropriate or misleading. I think it is perfect. Without it, the book would hardly make sense. The title undercuts the languidly unfolding portrayal of a couple of old Polish duffers, remindin...more
The summary from the Publishers Weekly review (taken from Bacacay: The Polish Literature Weblog):
While recuperating from wartime Warsaw in the Polish countryside, the unnamed narrator and his friend, Fryderyk, attempt to force amour between two local youths, Karol and Henia, as a kind of a lewd entertainment. They become increasingly frustrated as they discover that the two have no interest in one another, and the games are momentarily stopped by a local murder a...more
"Three o'clock in the afternoon. Foggy. A hag's torso splitting Fryderyk in half, a child's leg riding onto his chin...and so he traveled...but he traveled, as always, correctly and with perfect manners."
"The train stopped again, somewhere behind me the shu...more
George Bernard Shaw
Nothing would seem more true than Shaw's quote according to Gombrowicz's narrator, Witold Gombrowicz. Pornografia,Gombrowicz's novel that missed winning the International Prize for Literature by one vote in 1960, features the eponymous narrator of the author and his compatriot in obsession, Fryderyk. Beginning with Gombrowicz's first meeting with Fryderyk, "a middle-aged guy..., dark and lean, with an aquiline nose", we know that Fryderyk easily,...more
Gombrowicz (or at least his eponymous character) seems to feel a lot of disgust for mature folks. He and his character seem to be suggesting that the old can only live through the young. But the opposite observation seems equally compelling to me: that youth could n...more
I felt like a voyeur the entire time I read this, seeing through the shifting perspective of the narrator the beauty of youth and the horror of corruption. I kept trying to apply a nice, neat grad school term to describe the story and its philosophic digressions, but Gombrowicz's book proved elusive in this regard. Yeah, two urban intellectuals retreat to the Polish countryside and, bored as hell, become obsessed with two youths and scheme to orchestrate t...more
If you, your spouse, and your teenage farmhand ever find yourself tending a tract of land in the country, beware of old dudes from the city. A brief stay at your farmhouse may be OK, but if those fellows start to linger, expect mischief. Expect creepy machinations. If you find that someone's been leaving strange letters under rocks, suspect the old men! If you see the old timers tiptoeing about the garden with wide eyes, lock them up! At the very least, don't let them ne...more
The narrator - Gombrowicz himself - and his friend become obsessed with a young couple who are actually no more than children who have grown up t...more
this is the second novel i have read by witold. the first novel i read was kosmos, which i liked much less than pornografia. both were translated by danuta borchardt; i found that kosmos was simply too difficult to read and therefore too difficult to enjoy. pornografia, on the other hand, is a much easier to follow novel and, although slightly schizophrenic at times, a thoroughly enjoyable read. that is, enjoyable if you like books about wartime europe, bored and lusty ol...more
For my part I have never read anything like this and I sense it will be with me for quite a while, ruminating and rumbling somewhere deep within and causing mischief. A very irreverent book indeed.