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3.86  ·  Rating details ·  8,806 ratings  ·  272 reviews
In this bitterly funny novel by the renowned Polish author Witold Gombrowicz, a writer finds himself tossed into a chaotic world of schoolboys by a diabolical professor who wishes to reduce him to childishness. Originally published in Poland in 1937, Ferdydurke became an instant literary sensation and catapulted the young author to fame. Deemed scandalous and subversive by ...more
Paperback, 296 pages
Published 2012 by Wydawnictwo Literackie (first published 1937)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,806 ratings  ·  272 reviews

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Sep 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The pupa
Shelves: polish
'There is nothing that the mature hate more, there is nothing that disgusts them more, than immaturity' writes Gombrowicz in this comic masterpiece of Polish literature. Be prepared to embrace your immaturity as Gombrowicz attacks so-called 'maturity' and exposes it as a fraud in this story about an aspiring author who is reduced to back to his childish teenage self before a former professor and brought back to school. This first novel of his was banned by the Nazi's and Communist parties for it ...more
Vit Babenco
Dec 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ferdydurke is some sort of abracadabra and the novel can be defined as an absurdist abstraction.
“Mankind is accursed because our existence on this earth does not tolerate any well-defined and stable hierarchy, everything continually flows, spills over, moves on, everyone must be aware of and be judged by everyone else, and the opinions that the ignorant, dull, and slow-witted hold about us are no less important than the opinions of the bright, the enlightened, the refined. This is because man is
Good grief, I've got a copy of this somewhere that I must have liberated from a second-hand bookshop years ago and which I am fairly sure has long since gone the way of all books - although it is hard for me to tell as much of my life is in semi-storage to varying degrees.

An odd story. Not Mloda Polska (thanks to the correction in comments) but a product of the inter war period. A man is taken out of adult life and made to live as a child, he is forced to return to school and given foster parent
Nov 19, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I didn't like this book. I didn't hate it either. If I could have given it two and a half stars I would have. I liked the premise. Parts of it were interesting, and I think I got what he was doing with the work, but it just never gelled for me. Maybe if I had read it straight through without taking a bit of a break with reading a history book I might have enjoyed it more, but by about page 200 the whole book felt like work. For example I was on the bus, and I had the choice between reading this ...more
Mike Puma
Nov 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: they'll know who they are

I remember a song from my youth—one we played on record players before households had stereos. A time when said record players still had a setting for 78 rpm, which is what we had to use to play this tune. One of those childhood memories which never really goes away. A song that was already old when we started listening to it.

We was out in California one time,
And we wandered lookin’ for a room, and this mad hotel,
And we got upstairs and opened the door and turned on the lights,
And there on th
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ferdydurke appeared in Germany without commentary to explain briefly “what it is about”—thus some critics and readers did not know where to begin.

I think about the basic assumptions of Ferdydurke regarding criticism and I can endorse them without reservation. There are enough innocent works that enter life looking as if they did not know that they would be raped by a thousand idiotic assessments!

To avoid this kind of assessment I decided to let Witold Gombrowicz speak about Ferdydurke himself. E
K.D. Absolutely
Jan 06, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books; 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die
Witold Gombrowicz (1904-1969) is considered as one of the most important literary figures in Poland. Ferdydurke was his first novel and he published this in 1937 when he was 33 years old. Two years after its publication Russian invaded Poland and turned it into a communist country. Poland subsequently banned this book so Gombrowicz hid in Argentina and France.

Ferdydurke is a darkly satirical comedy that is considered modernist. The main protagonist and the narrator of the story, Joey Kawalski is
Jeff Jackson
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Modern ones and their calves
Unlike PORNOGRAFIA, this takes its sweet time revving up, but once the motor is cranked FERDYDURKE delivers some bizarro batshit thrills, memorably unnerving encounters, and genuine belly laffs. The intro essay by Susan Sontag praises "its sublime mockery of all attempts to normalize desire," which is spot on.

With its tumbling prose, psychological acuity, and surreal gambits, the novel was so far ahead of its time that Gombrowitz included several digressions to discuss his methods and demonstra
Nate D
Oct 26, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: pupas
Recommended to Nate D by: an old professor, shocked at this gap in my studies
Comments and reviews on this classic of interwar Polish absurdism seem to oscillate between adoration and ambivalence. This actually makes some kind of sense as my own reactions oscillated somewhat between those poles, even as I read it. Because for all of the rebellious wit and satiric insight on display throughout the novel, despite the excellence and memorable quotability of so many individual lines, there's also something very wordy and over-analyzed about this. Polish new wave filmmaker Jer ...more
Mar 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
right in the snoot! bash him right in the pupa!
W.D. Clarke
I didn't finish it (well, I did "read" it): it finished me. So:
NR (No Rating)

A first for me, this No Rating. And though my index finger twitches on my mouse, dying to rate it if it but could, but how could it? How can anyone's index finger click on any rating? It almost begs to be given one star, cos, Oh my GR-systematizers, how can you, I or anyone like (or "like") this book? So one star should work, cos not only did "I did not like it" occur here, it is, (objectively speaking now!) positively
Jim Elkins
A Rare Willingness to Ruin Form

This was the third or fourth of Gombrowicz's books that I've read. If it weren't for modernism's (and even postmodernism's) ongoing earnest self-regard, this book would be read alongside Finnegans Wake and other prewar novels that are postmodern avant la lettre. But Gombrowicz's theme in this book prevents him from displaying the sort of formal mastery and control that continues to be expected from maximalist and experimental authors in the wake of early 20th c. mo
Justin Evans
Jul 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Where has this book been all my life? Gombrowicz might be a 20th century version of Swift. It's all fart jokes and nose-picking until you realize it's actually one of the smartest books you've ever read. But be warned: if you come looking only for the fart jokes and nose-picking, you could easily be disappointed. Many reviewers, perhaps misled by Susan Sontag's introduction, and Gombrowicz's own much later statements, suggest that this is a book in praise of immaturity and damnation of adults. C ...more
Mar 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Extremely patient, adventurous readers who are willing to be changed forever
Shelves: favorites
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 ...more
Feb 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gombrowicz is a useful author more than anything else. This book, for example, gives you an idea - "immaturity" - and then shows you how it can be used to systematically dismantle every system of meaning you might come across. People complain about philosophical novels, but "philosophy" here doesn't mean argument, or logic - more like following an intuited form as it grows and surprises.
Andrew Walter
Jan 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can’t remember why I decided to read this book, but it has been on my “pending” list for about two years now. I questioned a Polish friend about it fairly extensively (luckily he didn’t get annoyed, which I probably would if someone started to pester me about Dickens simply because I’m British, which is essentially what I was doing…) and he said that I would probably enjoy it because I have a “sick brain”. I decided to take this as both a compliment and a recommendation rolled into one, and I’ ...more
Lee Foust
Jan 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The curse and joy of returning to one's youth with all of one's thirty-something literary grown-man cultural baggage intact. Lovely, troubling, a punk rock slap in the face to all our feigned adulthood, seriousness, and sobriety. A rather serious lark. I disagree with Susan Sontag's introduction, however. Gombrowicz's presentation of youthful extravagance, tension, and conflict is a far cry from modern American popular culture's re-presentation of youth as some sort of white bread yesteryear of ...more
Jun 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, eastern-europe
Hoo, boy! How does once approach a work that, the moment you touch it, dissolves into all manner of mugs, attitudes, and outright wackiness? This is my first work by Witold Gombrowicz, and I am mightily impressed by it -- but ... I ... must ... retain ... my ... perspective. Or like, Joe Kowalski, the narrator, I will be entrapped and dealt the pupa.

What is this pupa? It seems to be everywhere. As I understand it, it's the fulcrum of a boy's immaturity, centered in his butt, from which radiates
lyell bark
Jan 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book is funny and cool yall, starts off like a weird celine sort of fever dream where the narrator is seeing asses in the sky and then the fever dream turns real!!! omg. + lots of funny stuff like a making faces contest, a fight between analysis and synthesis and about 20 pages spent on athletic schoolgirls in their school girl outfits. good fetish, and in 1934 may have been ahead of its time, altho perhaps the polish schoolgirl of 1934 was not wearing the pleated gingham skirt of today's f ...more
Tomas Ramanauskas
Jul 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Add insane linguistic acrobatics to Kafka's and Charms' minimal surrealism and you've got yourself Gombrowicz's Ferdydurke.
Josh Friedlander
This novel is supposed to be untranslatable, but Danuta Brochardt has given it a valiant try. It's full of annoying diminutives and onomatopoeias, and extremely tedious in parts. The semblance of a plot revolves around an adult narrator being pulled into a world of disobedient schoolboys, who spend most of the novel, fighting, pulling faces, being bored in lessons, and making jokes about "pupa" (a Polish word which means "butt", but presumably with extra connotations not available in English). T ...more
Aug 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 14, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ferdydurke is a novel that often times just seems like sorta funny nonsense, and other times like a philosophical take on the importance of "immaturity" as fuel for creativity.

The premise of the story is that our protagonist is somehow regressed into a teenager (all though he still looks like a 30-year-old...everybody just seems to overlook that). In school his classmates debate over purity vs. vulgarity as the ultimate expression of immaturity. When he is forced to live with a family that inclu
Jul 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: polska
When the social norms of the old generation collides with that of the young generation,
Then, By necessity the concepts of immaturity and maturity will be abducted from its semantic sphere into a distorted and forbidding relation .the drift of the society into infantility and
The prevailing of the kitsch as a sign of modernity, the proliferation of triviaity , banality and again triviality, all these factors will take its toll on the writers of that society . And here comes the like of Gombrowicz
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
LOVE IT❤❤❤ ...more
Ewa K
Feb 16, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first I was thrilled with the book. Being Polish, I guess I could see more of the context. And so, I was absolutely delighted by Gombrowicz's blatant opposition towards the Polish Tradition and Great Authors. I went as far as to underline some passages which completely refuted the Polish Greatness.

However, the further I got into the book, the more I was annoyed with the slapstick humor and sickness of the author's mind. Call me stiff but I just don't find a miscarried fetus funny (okay, maybe
I've read this novel twice, and I enjoyed it even more the second time through. The basic plot is absurd - a 30 year old middle-class man is "kidnapped" and sent back to school; everyone treats him like a boy - but its themes are not: the story is a sustained meditation on "maturity," or in other words, on the attempt to escape "immaturity" into "maturity." We discover that the "child runs deep" even in the seemingly most "mature" adults. In any case, the novel is also frequently quite funny; we ...more
Ronald Morton
A delightfully, weirdly, wonderfully funny and intelligent book. An incisive satire that would make Swift proud.

I don't have the book with me, but the copy I have includes a quote from Gombrowicz that basically says one shouldn't spend a lot of time attempting to get to the "skeleton" beneath the text, and instead should judge the work on how well it dances. Or something like that.

In a way it's good advice - the book is entirely dictated by its own internal logic and language - but on the other
This is another one of those books that strikes me as impossibility. Let's say there are "three I's" at the heart of la grand littérature Européenne... ideology, identity (dislocation thereof), and (trumping all) irony. While i don't think I found Ferydurke as comic as I suppose I was supposed to, I was still amused. Liking it certainly depends on your tolerance of a very specifically Continental style. And while I'm not the world's biggest fan of that, I like it well enough, and I liked Ferdydu ...more
Aleksandra M
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ve never related to the Author and his beliefs, point of view and perspective as much as I could relate to Gombrowicz. So many relevant observations. Highly recommend this book to anyone who feels like the world is a massive play and people put on a masks to join the others and connect with them by pretending to be someone else just to fit in, which in many cases is our reality. Brilliant!
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Witold Marian Gombrowicz (August 4, 1904 in Małoszyce, near Kielce, Congress Poland, Russian Empire – July 24, 1969 in Vence, near Nice, France) was a Polish novelist and dramatist. His works are characterized by deep psychological analysis, a certain sense of paradox and an absurd, anti-nationalist flavor. In 1937 he published his first novel, Ferdydurke, which presented many of his usual themes: ...more
“Man is profoundly dependent on the reflection of himself in another man's soul, be it even the soul of an idiot.” 143 likes
“Beauty beheld in solitude is even more lethal.” 31 likes
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