Gombrowicz, Witold

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Gombrowicz, Witold

(vē`tōld gŏmbrō`vĭch), 1904–69, Polish writer. Gombrowicz is recognized as an original satirist, an existential innovator who mingled the real with the unreal to convey a highly personal vision of the world. After studying law at the Univ. of Warsaw, he published his first collection of surrealist short stories (1933). This was followed in 1937 by his brilliantly original satirical novel Ferdydurke (tr. 1961, 2000), which created a literary scandal but is now acclaimed a masterpiece. A diplomatic appointment to Argentina in 1939, the outbreak of World War II, and the subsequent rise of communism in Poland stranded him in Buenos Aires, where he lived until 1962. There he began writing his well-known diaries, published in the Paris-based Polish literary magazine Kultura from 1953 until his death. His work was banned, first by Hitler, then by Stalin, and was not published in Poland until the 1950s; his diaries did not appear until the mid-1980s. Gombrowicz's other major novels include Trans-Atlantyk (1953, tr. 1994), Pornografia (1960, tr. 1966, 2009) and Kosmos (1965; tr. Cosmos, 1967). His plays include Princess Ivona (1938, tr. 1969) and The Marriage (1947, tr. 1969). From 1964 until his death Gombrowicz lived in France.


See his Diary (tr. 2012) and A Kind of Testament, ed. by D. de Roux (tr. 1972, repr. 2007); studies by E. M. Thompson (1979), E. P. Ziarek, ed. (1998), H. Berressem (1998), and M. Goddard (2010).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Gombrowicz, Witold


Born Aug. 4, 1904, in Malo-szyce, near Opatów. Polish writer.

Gombrowicz began publishing in the I930’s. The novella Ferdydurke (1938). in which Gombrowicz has clearly broken with the realistic tradition, is well known. Psychological observations are presented on a fantastic, grotesque plane. The portrayal of stereotypes of the behavior and thought of a particular milieu (aristocracy, petite bourgeoisie, school) develops into a conception of the unnatural quality of human relations in general and of the inevitability of all kinds of “masks” and “poses” and pessimistically denies reality. After World War II. Gombrowicz chose to remain an émigré and became an ardent opponent of the People’s Poland.


Ferdydurke. Warsaw, 1957.


Sandauer, A. Dla każdego coś przykrego. Krakow. 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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