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A Premeditated Crime

Zbrodnia z premedytacją

“Looking straight ahead, I said with gravity: ‘Something’s not right here.’'

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Sherlock Holmes and his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930). The first investigation by the world’s most famous detective was published in 1887.


A Premeditated Crime was written in 1928, the same year as Dinner at Countess Pavahoke’s and Virginity. The text was published for the first time in 1933 in the collection Memoirs From a Time of Immaturity (Ed. Rój, Warsaw). Like the other stories in this book, A Premeditated Crime was later included in the 1957 volume Bacacay (Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków).

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A Premeditated Feast, based on two of Witold Gombrowicz’s stories, directed by Piotr Warszawski at Teatr Korez, Katowice, 2003.


An Oedipal parody of a detective story relating the investigation of a non-existent crime, this story demonstrates Witold Gombrowicz’s fascination with popular literature—as well as his genius in playing with conventional forms by twisting them with humor and irony.

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A Premeditated Crime, directed by Rafał Sisicki, Klub Le Madame, Warsaw, 2005.


In a preface to Memoirs From a Time of Immaturity, pulled just before publication, Witold Gombrowicz wrote::

“‘A Premeditated Crime’ is more complicated. The son has not assassinated the father. The father has not been assassinated. The son only strangles the cadaver when the examining magistrate pushes him to that point. The judge does not cease to force his role, but neither does the family, in a sense. One must not simply be taken with the demonism of the judge and his son, for the story is more of an intellectual nature. “‘A Premeditated Crime’ is more complicated. The son has not assassinated the father. The father has not been assassinated. The son only strangles the cadaver when the examining magistrate pushes him to that point. The judge does not cease to force his role, but neither does the family, in a sense. One must not simply be taken with the demonism of the judge and his son, for the story is more of an intellectual nature. It was about showing the ambiguity of feelings and how an artificial and false situation can reveal terrifying things in men that they could never have imagined. (P.S. The family truly loved the father, but everyone shut themselves up, seized by their unconscious fear and shame before a death that everyone felt approaching. It is very difficult to explain when one is unsure where the obscurity resides.”
“A Summary Explanation”, Varia [Trans. Dubowski]

Excerpt: Nevertheless—I suddenly went up to the bed and touched his neck with my finger.  Excerpt: Nevertheless—I suddenly went up to the bed and touched his neck with my finger. This slight movement had an electrifying effect on the widow. She started. “What are you doing?” she cried. “What are you doing? What are you doing? …” “My poor lady, don’t be so upset,” I replied, and without further ceremony I conducted a thorough investigation of the corpse’s neck and the entire room. Ceremony is good up to a point! We wouldn’t get very far if ceremony stood in the way of carrying out a detailed inspection when the need arose. Alas!—there were still literally no signs either on the body or on the chest of drawers, or behind the wardrobe, or on the rug next to the bed. The only noteworthy thing was an immense dead cockroach. On the other hand, a certain sign appeared on the widow’s face—she stood motionless, watching what I was doing with a look of befuddled consternation. At this point I asked as circumspectly as I could: “Why did you move into your daughter’s room a week ago?”