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Bruno Schulz : “Gombrowicz ‘this demonologist of culture, this obstinate bloodhound of cultural lies’”

“Gombrowicz shows that when we are not mature—but of a poor sort, scum quarreling in the shoals of concrete in an attempt to express ourselves—and that when it is our lowness we have to deal with, we are much closer to truth than when we are noble, sublime, mature, and definitive. […] “Gombrowicz shows that when we are not mature—but of a poor sort, scum quarreling in the shoals of concrete in an attempt to express ourselves—and that when it is our lowness we have to deal with, we are much closer to truth than when we are noble, sublime, mature, and definitive. […] “All the forms of man, his gestures and his masks have covered up the human, have absorbed the refuse of a miserable but concrete and only true human condition, and Gombrowicz revindicates them, adopts them, calls them back from a long exile, from an antique diaspora.”—Bruno Schulz, Ferdydurke [From Letters and Drawings of Bruno Schulz: With Selected Prose, Ed. Ficowski]

 

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1937 drawing by Bruno Schulz for the first edition of Ferdydurke.

Milan Kundera :

“I consider Ferdydurke to be one of the three or four great novels written after Proust’s death.”“I consider Ferdydurke to be one of the three or four great novels written after Proust’s death.”―Milan Kundera, “Gombrowicz malgré tous,” (Gombrowicz in spite of them all), Le Nouvel Observateur, March 8, 1990 [Trans. Dubowski]
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Adaptation by Janusz Opryński, Teatr Provizorium, Lublin, 1998.

John Updike :

“A master of verbal burlesque, a connoisseur of psychological blackmail, Gombrowicz is one of the profoundest of late moderns, with one of the lightest touches. Ferdydurke, among its centrifugal charms, includes some of the truest and funniest literary satire in print.”
—John Updike, back cover of Ferdydurke, Yale, 2000Susan Sontag :

Susan Sontag

“Gombrowicz capers and thunders, hectors and mocks, but he is also entirely serious about his project of transvaluation, his critique of high ‘ideals.’ Ferdydurke is one of the few novels I know that could be called Nietzschean; certainly it is the only comic novel that could so be described. […] Nietzsche deplored the ascendancy of slave values sponsored by Christianity, and called for the overthrowing of corrupt ideals and for new forms of masterfulness. Gombrowicz, affirming the ‘human’ need for imperfection, incompleteness, inferiority … youth, proclaims himself a specialist in inferiority. Swinish adolescence may seem a drastic antidote to smug maturity, but this is exactly what Gombrowicz has in mind. ‘Degradation became my ideal forever. I worshipped the slave.’ It is still a Nietszschean project of unmasking, of exposing, with a merry satyr-dance of dualisms: mature versus immature, wholes versus parts, clothed versus naked, heterosexuality versus homosexuality, complete versus incomplete.” “Extravagant, brilliant, disturbing, brave, funny, wonderful… Long live its sublime mockery.”
—Foreword to Danuta Borchardt’s English translation of Ferdydurke