PORNOGRAFIA by Witold Gombrowicz


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This week's ""greatest unknown writer of our time"" is Witold Gombrowicz, a sixty-three year old Polish writer whose Pornografia recalls a number of well-known continental styles. The tone of ironic gentility comes from Musil, the coyly quivering eroticism or sex-in-the-head is straight out of Sade, and the metaphysical murder which provides the third act curtain could never have been staged without Gide in the prompter's box reciting his acre gratuit. However, Sartrean phenomenology should take the biggest bow: like so many practitioners of the nouveau roman, Gombrowicz' most impressive pages are massively indebted to the various descriptions of the Other in Being and Nothingness or Nausea. Pornografia concerns the emotional nether world of two intellectual graybeards, one of whom is the narrator, as they fastidiously torture themselves in the aura of free-floating sex way off in the Warsaw provinces during the German occupation. ""Our treason, Frederick's and mine, seemed clearer and clearer: we had betrayed masculinity for (a boy and a girl)."" The latter, two sunny adolescents who spark the double killing, symbolize the omniverous Id, the savant's dream of exquisite lawlessness. Says Gombrowicz: "" 'Man wants to be God' expresses...the nostalgia of existentialism....I set up another immeasurable formula against it: 'Man wants to be young.' "" A truly avant garde idea! Next week: Peter Pan.

Pub Date: May 19th, 1967
ISBN: 0802145132
Publisher: Grove