Radoslaw's Reviews > Ferdydurke

Ferdydurke by Witold Gombrowicz
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M 50x66
's review
Sep 26, 2009

really liked it
Read in September, 2009

Crazy, brilliant, and frustrating novel from the 1930's by this mad Polish author. The basic theme/question/idea is: do we possess an identity outside of what people think of us or are we mostly shaped by society's perception of who we are? As all language and all interactions we have with others is little more than mediated societal convention, is there any room to express who we "really" are?

Anyway, the story involves a thirty-something author (Gombrowicz) who, up to now, has produced a single book about adolescence (which Gombrowich had up until then) and as such, gets treated as an adolescent or someone not quite developed by all those who meet him. This is all explained in the first few pages. As he sits down to write his great new opus which will show the world who he really is, an old professor shows up and literally kidnaps him and places him into a high school where he is treated as one of the school boys and observes how they interact. This is the first in a series of adventures which sees the narrator placed in a lodging, falling in love, and then escaping to the country where the old Polish aristocratic order is satirized to no end. In fact, everything here is pure satirical gold with the school scenes among the best if not somewhat dated (ok, all of the book seems dated but since Gombrowicz makes this point directly himself during the course of the book it does not seem like a big deal. In fact, several times Gombrowicz addresses the reader directly and makes some point that the reader might be thinking of which is also fun.) Gombrowicz also inserts several surreal, philosophical, mini-stories complete with their own introductions into the novel. Frustrating but fun.

Anyway, it's a fun read in Polish (which is why I picked it up again as I'm going to Poland this week) which might be lost when translated into English but pick this up if any of this sounds interesting. Cheers

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message 1: by Hazel (new) - added it

Hazel Thank you, Radoslaw, sounds good.

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