Williwaw's Reviews > Pornografia

Pornografia by Witold Gombrowicz
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Feb 14, 12

Recommended for: coffee house intellectuals
Read from February 11 to 14, 2012, read count: 1

There were flashes of brilliance here, but also a whole lot of dullness. Is this really among the best that 20th century literature has to offer? If so, then I'm ready to go back to science fiction and suspense novels for a long time.

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 not thrive without the social order that their elders have constructed for them. For Gombrowicz, the elderly are merely worms to be trampled upon by youth. And the trampling is a sort of aphrodisiac!

Perhaps I did not truly understand this book. There was much in it that alienated me. In particular, the Gombrowicz character seemed to have exaggerated sensibilities that were so unbelievable that I could only surmise that they were meant to provoke laughter. There is a huge undercurrent of absurdity surging through this book, like an undertow that pulls the reader out to sea and ultimately drowns him.

We see and feel everything from the Gombrowicz veiwpoint. This is a first person narrative. Consequently, most of the characters are not terribly well developed and our information about them is highly colored by the narrator's sentiments. Most mysterious of all are the narrators feelings toward his travel companion, Fredyryk. He is absolutely horrified by this guy! But he plays along with him and his machinations to the very end. Why?

The surprise ending was great. I might have enjoyed this book more if the plot had involved a few more twists and turns like this.

Youth/old age, murder/sex, religion/atheism, insanity/normalcy, faithfulness/betrayal . . . mix these ingredients together, stir vigorously, and if you get lucky, you might achieve immortality!
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