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Adventures

Przygody

 

“How terrifying the self becomes when someone transfers it into a domain that is strange to it, how inhuman a man becomes when used like a probe.”

JPG - 15.6 ko
“Adventures” (“Przygody”) is a hijacking of the 19th-century roman d’aventure, Witold’s typical reading material in childhood.

Written in 1930, this story was published in 1933 in the collection of stories Memoirs from a Time of Immaturity (Ed. Rój, Warsaw). Like the other stories in Witold Gombrowicz’s literary debut, the philosophical story Adventures was republished in 1957, in an expanded version titled Bacacay (Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków). 

In the 1933 edition, this story was titled Five Minutes Before Sleep. Witold Gombrowicz changed the title for the second, 1957 edition of the collection Bacacay.

JPG - 13.6 ko
Joseph Conrad’s maritime tales inspired Witold Gombrowicz from an early age.


In his preface for the reader, ultimately withdrawn from the 1933 edition before publication, Witold Gombrowicz introduced this story as a suite of images that haunted him in his youth, just before he would fall asleep:

“I always reread with emotion this story of desperation, where terrifying tortures, persecutions, the infiniteness of the oceans, the sexual anxiety of youth and the painful emotion of one’s own immaturity tie up into a crown of tortures that prevents the hero from enjoying happiness in the company of his beloved in a great hot-air balloon, placid like an elephant.”“I always reread with emotion this story of desperation, where terrifying tortures, persecutions, the infiniteness of the oceans, the sexual anxiety of youth and the painful emotion of one’s own immaturity tie up into a crown of tortures that prevents the hero from enjoying happiness in the company of his beloved in a great hot-air balloon, placid like an elephant.”
A Summary Explanation,” Varia [Trans. Dubowski]
JPG - 8.6 ko
Published in 1911, Tarzan mixed the erotic and the exotic.


In Adventures, two autobiographical allusions are transformed into literary themes: Skin and breathing. From childhood, Witold Gombrowicz suffered from both a skin condition and respiratory troubles, which later transformed into chronic asthma—and ultimately brought about his death.

JPG - 11.9 ko
The hero of “Adventures” shares similarities with Swift’s Gulliver and Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.

Excerpt: On that island I survived two months of a monkey’s existence, hiding in the hollows of trees, in dense bushes and the tops of palms. The monsters organized formal hunts for me. Nothing could have amused them better than the embarrassment with which I rushed from their touch—they hid in the undergrowth, jumped out unexpectedly, ran along with a merry and lascivious roar—and had it not been for the characteristic odor hircinus, had it not been for the decrepitude of their degenerated limbs, and the desperate fear that augmented my strength, I would have fallen into their clutches a hundred times over. And above all, if it had not been for my skin—my skin, contracting without a moment’s rest, susceptible, chapped, terrified, exhausted, in eternal perturbation. I ceased to be anything else but skin—with it I would fall asleep and wake up, it was my only, it was my all.