Sean's Reviews > Ferdydurke

Ferdydurke by Witold Gombrowicz
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Mar 29, 08

bookshelves: favorites
Recommended for: Extremely patient, adventurous readers who are willing to be changed forever
Read in January, 1985

Another one of my all time favorites. Gombrowicz' modernist masterpiece, his first novel, came out in the 1930's, causing a brief literary sensation only weeks before his native Poland was invaded by the Nazis. The author fled to South America and since Europe had other things on its mind in the coming years both author and book were pretty much forgotten. Gombrowicz was rediscovered however amid the renewed experimentation of the 1960's, and enjoyed a renaissance in his lifetime, after decades of obscurity. For sheer madness, bizarre surrealistic humor and force of invention this book is unequalled -- however it is definitely not for everyone. The story of the protagonist, who is compelled for strange reasons to return to high school as an adult, and thereby suffers again all the agonies of adolescence, is intertwined with bizarre non-sequitur chapters concerning arcane philosophical arguments between schools of thought represented by a pair fictional professors, along with all sorts of other sometimes irritating, sometimes brilliant, and sometimes impenetrable digressions. And we never find out why it's called 'Ferdydurke'. Well, I said it wasn't for everyone didn't I? But I myself, for inexplicable reasons, love it. Unhinge your mind and you just might too. But I'll warn you, you may never be the same again.
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