Trans-Atlantyk by Witold Gombrowicz

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Synopsis

Witold Gombrowicz (1904-1969), novelist, essayist, and playwright, is considered by many to be the most important Polish writer of the twentieth century. Author of four novels, several plays, and a highly acclaimed Diary, he was a candidate for the Nobel Prize in literature in 1968.

Trans-Atlantyk is a semi-autobiographical, satirical novel that throws into heightened perspective all of Gombrowicz's major literary, philosophical, psychological, and social concerns. First published in Paris in 1953, it is based on the author's experience of being caught in Argentina at the outbreak of World War II. The narrator finds himself alone, without family and friends, at odds with the Argentinian literary world and with Polish émigré society. Throughout the book, Gombrowicz ridicules the self-centered pomposity of the Polish community in Argentina. More than this, he explores with prophetic vision the modern predicament of exile and displacement in a disintegrating world.

The form and style of Trans-Atlantyk reinforce Gombrowicz's satire. The novel is written in the idiom of the gaweda, a seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Polish oral genre typical of the conservative culture of provincial nobility, that presents a jarring and sometimes hilarious contrast to the formless and expansive culture of the modern world. Because of its stylistic difficulty, Trans-Atlantyk is the only one of Gombrowicz's works that has never before been translated into English. Now Carolyn French and Nina Karsov have produced a daring and original translation, the product of over ten years of effort, that corresponds roughly in tone and diction to a seventeenth/eighteenth-century English idiom and that conveys Gombrowicz's irreverent and fierce parody of an anachronistic culture in the twentieth century.
 

About Witold Gombrowicz

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A01
 
Published October 1, 2008 by Yale University Press. 152 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Biographies & Memoirs, History. Fiction

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Feeling demeaned (whether by his benefactors' jokes at his expense or because propaganda is beneath him), Gombrowicz proceeds to mock people he's introduced to, winning their hearts with such gibberish as: ``I don't like Butter too Buttery, Noodles too Noodly, Millet too Millety, and Barley too B...

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Gombrowicz (1904-1969) is best known in this country for the meditations on life and literature contained in his Diary , but he wrote several novels that are highly regarded for their dazzling stylistics and exploration of the Polish national character.

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