Long banned in its author’s native Poland, this high-spirited satire (first published in 1937, and now available in a “first unabridged English translation”) on the regimentation that Gombrowicz (1904–69) foresaw as the destructive storm then approaching Europe has since been acclaimed as a modernist masterpiece. It’s a free-range meditation—whose first-person narrator excitedly confides in, and abuses, the reader—on the indignities suffered by Kowalski (or, if you will, “K.”), a writer “imprisoned” (with the consent and complicity of his family and friends) in a school for adolescent boys. The idea that officialdom reduces the creative spirit to the condition of childhood is worried over quite brilliantly, in a compact epic of misanthropy, paranoia, and (comically heightened) righteous indignation set in a world that smugly refuses to make any sense. A wonderfully subversive, self-absorbed, hilarious book. Think Kafka translated by Groucho Marx, with commentaries.