“The ‘philosophy courses’ are the key to reading and understanding the entire narrative and theatrical work of Gombrowicz, especially his ’Diary’. Indeed, philosophy was his great passion, along with music.
The poet Czesław Miłosz remembered that Gombrowicz really didn’t like to talk about anything other than philosophy. This infinite passion had already manifested itself in teaching: In Buenos Aires, in 1959, he gave courses on Heidegger to the Circle of Friends of Art.
Gombrowicz’s philosophy (La philosophie de Gombrowicz), preface to the French and Polish editions of the Guide to Philosophy [Trans. Dubowski]
Italienische Ausgabe, SE Editore, 1994. Bild von Robert Rauschenberg.
Maria Świeczewska, Witold Gombrowicz’s student in Buenos Aires:
Curiously, Witold used to get nervous before class. He would become calmer when talking. At the beginning, we had a few lessons on the Greeks, then he followed with Descartes, then Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Heidegger, Sartre, and, to finish, Marx. His goal was to show the evolution of philosophy towards modern thought. His knowledge of philosophy did not seem immense. I remember that he would take my own books to prepare his lectures! But he had the gift of synthesis and knew very well how to put ideas in perspective with culture. It was obvious that philosophy was part of his life. He was a true ‘master,’ and not a ‘professor.’ He was clear, rigorous, an excellent pedagogue. We eagerly awaited his courses. I remember that he dedicated four of them to Kant. And he finally made us understand his greatness and the beauty of his logic. Under the influence of these classes, I took Kant on vacation!
Account in Gombrowicz in Argentina [Trans. Dubowski]
Michał Paweł Markowski:
The dying Gombrowicz taught philosophy from a particular life, unlike any other. He also taught that pain and suffering are not of the realm of things or of a carnal machinery; they are tied to the subject, to this palpable ’I’ that can only go through what awaits it alone, without the help of any other person. Gombrowicz held the faded pages of the past in his hands, but he didn’t read them—he spoke from memory. But did he live in the past? I don’t know. I doubt it.
From the School of Montaigne, preface to the Polish edition of the Guide to Philosophy, 2006 [Trans. Dubowski]