Pornografia

Pornografia❮Reading❯ ➶ Pornografia ➮ Author Witold Gombrowicz – Tbjewellers.co.uk Gombrowicz's strange, bracing final novel probes the divide between young and old while providing a grotesque evocation of obsession While recuperating from wartime Warsaw in the Polish countryside, t Gombrowicz's strange, bracing final novel probes the divide between young and old while providing a grotesque evocation of obsession While recuperating from wartime Warsaw in the Polish countryside, the unnamed narrator and his friend, Fryderyk, attempt to force amour between two local youths, Karol and Henia, as a kind of a lewd entertainment They become increasingly frustrated as they discover that the two have no interest in one another, and the games are momentarily stopped by a local murder and a directive to assassinate a rogue member of the Polish resistance Gombrowicz connects these threads magnificently in a tense climax that imbues his novel with a deep sense of the absurd and multiplies its complexity Gombrowicz is a relentless psychoanalyzer and a consummate stylist; his prose is precise and forceful, and the narrator's strained attempts to elucidate why he takes such pleasure at soiling youth creepily evoke authentic pride and disgust Borchardt's translation the first into English from the original Polish is a model of consistency, maintaining a manic tone as it navigates between lengthy, commaspliced sentences and sharp, declarative thrustsPublishers Weekly.

Witold Marian Gombrowicz August , in Małoszyce, near Kielce, Congress Poland, Russian Empire – July , in Vence, near Nice, France was a Polish novelist and dramatist His works are characterized by deep psychological analysis, a certain sense of paradox and an absurd, anti nationalist flavor In he published his first novel, Ferdydurke, which presented many of his usual themes:.

Pornografia Epub ´ Paperback
    Pornografia Epub ´ Paperback another, and the games are momentarily stopped by a local murder and a directive to assassinate a rogue member of the Polish resistance Gombrowicz connects these threads magnificently in a tense climax that imbues his novel with a deep sense of the absurd and multiplies its complexity Gombrowicz is a relentless psychoanalyzer and a consummate stylist; his prose is precise and forceful, and the narrator's strained attempts to elucidate why he takes such pleasure at soiling youth creepily evoke authentic pride and disgust Borchardt's translation the first into English from the original Polish is a model of consistency, maintaining a manic tone as it navigates between lengthy, commaspliced sentences and sharp, declarative thrustsPublishers Weekly."/>
  • Paperback
  • 176 pages
  • Pornografia
  • Witold Gombrowicz
  • English
  • 11 October 2019
  • 9780714529882

10 thoughts on “Pornografia

  1. says:

    This is one of those books about the duplicity of this lifeless journey, where a man is riding to church as if he were actually riding to church when of course he is not even he and he is definitely not riding to church. Fryderyk is probably France and people watch simple pastoral settings but it's all about Poland before and during the Second World War. So it's fun for awhile trying to figure out what the names mean and who's Chamberlain, who's Hitler. Then it's not so much fun anymore.

    This could be a masterpiece and I'm not saying it's not. It's probably my fault or just the wrong time for me.

    I remember when computers were new and it was compulsory to try clever games. I got that game Myst. Cool music; fun finding the clues. But then one child drifted away, then another. I realized the game was all about finding the clues. Find one, you had to find another. I eventually set it aside, but never got back to it. How ephemeral the excitement can be. This was like that.

  2. says:

    An off-the-wall classic, part war thriller, part philosophical enquiry, written by a Polish emigre living in Argentina in 1960 who had arrrived on a cruise ship 20 years earlier and when the Second World War broke out decided not to go back, Pornografia has a deliciously unreal element to it. From the first page (one of the most arresting in literature) this is theatrical, but with the atmosphere and three dimensions that only a novel can supply. The plot is bizarre: two ageing intellectuals (one of them Gombrowicz) are on a country retreat at a friend's (or is it a business associate's?) manor in the Polish countryside. Strange things are afoot: the forests seem to exhale a whiff of intrigue. The two men are picked up at the station by a handsome young farmboy in a carriage, and from then on all else is secondary to their delight in this young boy and in a young girl (their host's daughter? - it's a while since I've read it) with whom he seems perfectly-matched. The book revolves around their attempts to trigger the seduction of one child by the other. No matter that a Polish soldier has come to stay, that the war has stepped foot into the very house where they play this game...

    As I say, it's a while since I've read it, but in my twenties this was a big book for me. The paperback edition, by Marion Boyars, is also beautiful. The writing is brilliant, unique. Sentences stop in mid-flow with three dots, the prose accelerates - we seem to be right beside Gombrowicz as he pounds at the typewriter. Only in Hubert Selby have I read an author who so made me imagine his typewriter, but in Selby's case it detracted; here it is almost magical - so this is what's possible!

    In the fifties in Paris Gombrowicz was known for his diary. In his youth in Warsaw in the thirties he was infamous for the satirical Ferdydurke, a novel which which was no doubt ahead of its time but which I will admit I have been unable to finish. For me, Gombrowicz will always be the author of Pornografia. An all-time favourite, a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.

    (FOOTNOTE, a few months later... I can't believe I didn't realise: this edition was translated from the French translation, and a direct Polish-English translation was published for the first time (by Grove Press, with the same cover) in 2009! I mean, wow! Nigh on fifty years to publish a proper translation?! This goes on my must-read list immediately.)

  3. says:

    Gombrowicz has never failed to amaze me. While this book is not quite on the same level as Ferdydurke, it is still stunning. Like Ferydurke, the themes of youth and maturity are still highly prevalent and key to the novel, but here these themes are regarded in a completely different fashion. With Pornografia, he shows the power held in youth and his disgust for his fellow grown man as two adults toy with the lives of two teenagers, pushing them to act in subtle ways as if they were trying to adjust the world so that it could be examined for a sort of literary significance. To attach any labels to this book is difficult, as calling it exactly what it is, such as a sensual psychological thriller, would cheapen the novel and would essentially misrepresent it. This novel is smart on many levels and gives a constant over-analyzation of literally every motion and event. Gombrowicz assaults you with his insightfully poetic prose, examining the tiniest details of a characters actions to extract the true essence within them. It is easy to see that he was blindingly intelligent, yet this doesn't come across as overbearing and he never talks down to the reader. Instead, he politely lowers you a rope and gracefully pulls you up into his mind so you can have a look around and share in his brilliant deductions of humanity. Bravo Gombrowicz.

  4. says:

    There is no mention in La Pornographie of the Majdanek extermination camp where 78,000 Poles including 59,000 Jews were killed between 1942 and 1944 despite the fact that the action of the novel takes place in Sandomierz a mere 125 kilometres away in 1943 while the camp is at the height of its activity. The Armia Krajowa (Poland's principal resistance group with a force of 400,000) is mentioned but its members are presented as buffoons. In Gombrowicz's view Polish history was a melodrama not a tragedy. Surprisingly Gombrowicz is very highly regarded today in Poland.

    The novel is about pornography to the extent the two major protagonists Witold and his doppelganger Frederic seek to achieve fulfillment by attempting to manipulate the lives of two adolescents Henia and Karol. The fail at their prime objective which is to push the two into a sexual relationship. However, a new opportunity for diversion occurs when a rogue member in of the Armia Krajowa in flight from his unit arrives at the country estate where the main characters live. The superiors of the Armia Krajowa order the estate owner to kill the deserter. None of the adults are prepared to accept the responsibility so Witold and Frederic ask Karol and Henia do it. This time the two teenagers comply and quickly move to perform the act.

    According to Gombrowicz La Pornographie provides the clearest statement of the dominant theme of his career which is that society imposes roles on its members. In Ferdydurke Gombrowicz shows society imposing immaturity on the young. In La Pornographie the young are trapped in immaturity while their elders are prisoners of adulthood.

    The problem for me is the gulf between the fantasy land created by Gombrowicz what the reality was in Poland. In 1943 childhood did not exist in the country. During WWII, six million Poles roughly 30% of the nation's population were killed. Every one lived in daily fear of being killed. Procuring food was highly dangerous and most people were severely undernourished. The adolescents of the generation of Henia and Karol were not even being educated as the Germans closed the country's secondary schools and killed the teachers in 1939.

    It is difficult to say what Gombrowicz knew of the situation in Poland during WWII or when he learned because he left Poland in 1939 and never returned. In my view, Gombrowicz makes light of a profoundly tragic time in Poland's history. In defense of Gombrowicz, it must be acknowledged that he does not try to present his story as being historically accurate. The characters and their actions clearly belong to the realm of the theatrical farce or of the operetta.

    On a final note, the French translation by Georges Lisowski that I read is very good. Lisowksi manages to situate Gombrowicz into the French Absurdist-Nouveau Roman tendency which makes for very enjoyable reading. Lisowksi translates pierogi z białym serem as raviolis au fromage' which I found to be inspired. Gombrowicz was ultimately a dreadful Pole and a wonderful Frenchman.

  5. says:

    Aspiring masturbators should be warned that Witold Gombrowicz’s Pornografia contains no hardcore sexual activity. There is bodily penetration, but only by knives. All of the climaxes and most of the carnality that pops up throughout the novel arise from the intense physical intimacy people share when they murder one another through stabbing. Set in Poland during the Nazi occupation, a Poland never visited by Gombrowicz, who irrevocably expatriated prior to the war’s onset, Pornografia’s atmosphere is dark, close, creepy and turgid with perverse and murderous intrigue. But dying, really, is not the worst affliction that the first-person guide—the other characters call him Witold—is eager to showcase. In league with a partner in base manipulation named Fryderyk, who may be a reptilian mirror of the narrator’s lizard mind, Witold sets out to prove that living and aging is its own punishment, and the compensations are fundamentally compromised: “I was still able to experience delight, yet I knew that my delight would never again be delightful.” Seen in that light, you are unlikely to find a more delightful release than Pornografia.

  6. says:

    A very slow start, but the ingenious plot and Gombrowicz's usual intelligence come through at the end.

  7. says:

    Youth is wasted on the young.
    George Bernard Shaw


    Nothing would seem more true than Shaw's quote according to Gombrowicz's narrator, Witold Gombrowicz. Pornografia,Gombrowicz's novel that missed winning the International Prize for Literature by one vote in 1960, features the eponymous narrator of the author and his compatriot in obsession, Fryderyk. Beginning with Gombrowicz's first meeting with Fryderyk, a middle-aged guy..., dark and lean, with an aquiline nose, we know that Fryderyk easily, if inexplicably, holds the power in the relationship. In referencing how Fryderyk coughed, Gombrowicz reacts strongly:

    This singular behavior(because he did nothing but behave, he incessantlybehaved) aroused my curiosity even then, on first meeting him, and in the enduing months I became close to this man, who actually turned out to be someone not lacking refinement, he was someone with experience in the realm of art as well(at one time he was involved int he theater).


    A polish version of The Odd Couple tinged with Gombrowicz's varying degrees of repulsion toward Fryderyk, these two tire of the World War II urban chaos and seek reprieve in the countryside at the home of an Underground participant, Hippolit S. Amidst the pastoral setting, Fryderyk and Gombrowicz attempt to adapt to the quiet lifestyle of Hippolit, his wife and their daughter. As it will happen with intellectuals without anything to analyze, they will create a psychological situation to exercise their intellects without any regard for whether the outcome is negative or positive. Gombrowicz and Fryderyk become enthralled with the possibility of a budding love between the handsome young farm hand, Karol, and the equally attractive and sensual female counterpart, Henia. In spite of the fact that Henia is betrothed to Vaclav, the provincial and much older lawyer friend of the family, the two aging intellectuals plot to arrange an affair between the would-be lovers. Both Henia and Karol seem oblivious to the other as a possible love interest because they have been playmates since childhood. This only exasperates Fryderyk and Gombrowicz , fueling their determination to pair the unparalleled erotic chemistry between Henia and Karol. But what seems at once a cause for jealousy but also pity is Karol's youth; his inability to recognize that his youth is what is giving him this sensual opportunity and also making him unaware of it. Gombrowicz can only look on him with disdain:


    Torn between child and man (which made him at the same time innocently naive and relentlessly experienced), he was, nevertheless, neither one nor the other, he was a third possibility, namely, he was youth, inwardly violent, harsh youth that was handing him over to cruelty, to brute force and obedience, condemning him to slavery and humiliation. He was second-rate because young. Inferior because young. Sensuous because young, Carnal because young. Destructive because young. And in this youth of his--contemptible.


    But it also because of this youth that Gombrowicz and Fryderyk are captivated by him. Gombrowicz himself simultaneously possesses vicariously this youth through Karol but is also stimulated by it, as if he wishes he were Karol's lover. Having read two novels of Gombrowicz's, this one and Trans-Atlantyk, homo eroticism and homosexuality are prominent in both as natural expressions of sexuality, although thinly camouflaged in both. It is more blatant in Pornografia with the erotic obsession of Gombrowicz and Fryderyk bordering on insanity.

    Other themes that emerge in Gombrowicz's novels are war, the cost of patriotism, the oppression of Catholicism, and the damaging and hypocritical nature of provincialism. All these themes are fluid, rising up in key scenes and creating ripples of dissonance throughout the narratives. Pornografia is more psychological with these themes providing a chorus to the refrain of erotic obsession and the paranoia that develops when it is not sated. Like any addiction it causes embarrassment and Gombrowicz, the good little intellectual that he is, recognizes it repulsed by it, but cannot escape it:


    However, this is not yet the pinnacle of revulsion. The ultimate grotesque horror came from the fact that we were like a couple of lovers, let down in our feelings and rejected by the other two lovers, and our aroused state, our excitement, had nowhere to discharge itself, so now it roamed between us...now there was nothing left except ourselves...and, disgusted with each other, we were still together in our awakened sensuality. That was why we tried not to look at each other.


    Things become even more complex and eerie when Vaclav's mother is murdered and an Underground agent shows up at Hippolit's with an unclear purpose. But what becomes more smothering, if not intriguing, is that even though Gombrowicz is the narrator, he is much more concerned with what Fryderyk is thinking, what his actions are and what he plan to do as the plot develops. There is the smothering obsession with the young couple, but the secondary obsession of Gombrowicz over Fryderyk that makes him an unreliable narrator, if at times hilariously absurd. Like many obsessed people, Fryderyk and Gombrowicz are afraid of being caught playing deity, so they begin to communicate by writing notes back and forth that are left under a rock. With the psychological idiosyncrasies of crackling like thunder in an electrical storm, the reader becomes inured by the plot and feeling the anxiety of impending doom. Which comes, of course. The bizarre end confronts obsession head on, with age destroying youth, and youth destroying age, and a complicity in a crime that can only forge a new and deranged bond between Karol and Henia.

    As terrifying as the characters are in their calculation, Gombrowicz's agile pen dilutes the tragedy with a lightness that only the best can master. It's a shame that Gombrowicz is not known much outside of Europe--he is a writer's writer, easily displaying the genius of his craft and showing that he deserves to be regarded as part of the elite of modernism. What's more, is that Danuta Borchardt's translation is just as good and will surely be the example that all other translations, if any ever appear, will be held up against. With an exemplary translation, Pornografia is now available for all of us waiting to discover the rarity of truly skilled writing.As terrifying as the characters are in their calculation, Gombrowicz's agile pen dilutes the tragedy with a lightness that only the best can master. It's a shame that Gombrowicz is not known much outside of Europe--he is a writer's writer, easily displaying the genius of his craft and showing that he deserves to be regarded as part of the elite of modernism. What's more, is that Danuta Borchardt's translation is just as good and will surely be the example that all other translations, if any ever appear, will be held up against. With an exemplary translation, Pornografia is now available for all of us waiting to discover the rarity of truly skilled writing.

  8. says:

    dnf 91. Sigh.

  9. says:

    Aside from being a brilliantly unnerving story, practically hallucinatory in its intensity, it's got to be the only book I've read which uses modal metaphysics to explore issues of identity, ethics and desire. Rather than running through the story, it's more interesting to consider the complex notion of pornography in the novel and what that could mean.

    The narrator - Gombrowicz himself - and his friend become obsessed with a young couple who are actually no more than children who have grown up together. The girl is to be married to a staid and dull lawyer and the boy is a callow, rash youth with no initial interest in his friend. Yet the two men become fascinated by the 'possibility' of this young couple. On the one hand, the couple's lack of experience is tantamount to an embarrassment of possibility and potential. But, as is the way, they don't have the experience or the age to understand their own potential: they are naive, casually selfish and buffeted by the twists and turns of the present. It falls on their elders to understand and realise the plenipotentiary of possibility naturally afforded to the young. And so, a catch 22 of sorts: the young are unaware of their own gifts and those who are aware of them are too old to enjoy or have natural access to them.

    That is unless this potential can be harnessed, directed and enjoyed, vicariously by the older generation. This is what the two men set out to do: through manipulation and exploitation they practically gorge themselves on the two teenagers and the richness of their, as yet, unlived futures. It is for this reason that I think that Gombrowicz has put certain words into brackets: they are underdetermined possibilities - they lack determinate meaning because they have not yet been pushed into being a particular way; it is a function of youth that it can be many ways. At one point Gombrowicz refers to the bracketed notions as like elements in a chemistry reaction. By themselves they have particular properties but their being is underdetermined until they come into contact with other agents. In effect the two men are like chemists, running experiments both for their own delight and out of a somewhat sadistic, bitter desire to burn out of the youths the very possibility that they feed off and envy.

    And so the entire relationship between them and the teenagers becomes inevitably destructive. The sublimated eroticism they find in manipulating and exploiting the youth devolves into an Ourobos serpent: the children come to latch onto the adults game - if only in the sense that they become aware of themselves as regarded in the adult world. And then they come to seek the attention of the adults and in so doing begin to destroy the conditions of their own youth and naivety. Equally the men become intense in frantic as they also destroy the conditions of their own enjoyment. Ultimately, the two men deflower the teenagers; they strip them of their youth and the perverse, destructive, and ultimately violent enjoyment which they take from this constitutes the erotic sadism which underpins the whole novel.

    What is in effect an analysis of spiritual malaise is a result of the sublimated history of post-war Poland within which the novel is set. In the tradition of Gide and the like, rationality, science and enlightenment comes apart in a disenchanted world where a certain bourgeois decline is the norm amongst the educated classes. The naturalness of the children becomes a source of spiritual nourishment for the men but they are already spiritually bankrupt. There is no soul just a void that expresses itself merely as desire and appetite. Furthermore, without any genuine sense of moral ends to curb the excesses of rational analysis, rationality becomes unmoored, spurred on by insatiable appetite - a sort of thwarted and distorted lust. This is hell of the two men who, in the manner of vampires, suck dry the world around them, all the while aware of the horror and irresistibility of their behaviour.

    Pornographia becomes an allegory of intellectual irrationality and domination. Following the unfettered ambition of the Enlightenment to attain total freedom, autonomy and self-control, all of these goals, dialectically, turn in on themselves and freedom becomes a bloody, fight for survival, absolute autonomy deforms the ego which turns narcissistic and dellusional and self-control turns into repression, taboo and fetishisation. All of these fragmented themes clash and shatter wonderfully in the novel as it spirals out into absurdity and metaphysical horror. It's a rare and sublime feat of writing.

    Pornographia is undoubtedly a work of genius.

  10. says:

    This is one of the most frenetic and fascinatingly demented novels I’ve ever read. Has shades of JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE NIGHT, as well as AN UNTOUCHED HOUSE in its hysterical depiction of a twisted personal drama against the backdrop of WWII. Gombrowicz is a wild genius.

    “After supper I again didn’t know what to do with myself, one would think that in the hours preceding a murder there would be a lot to do, yet not one of us did anything.”

    “It was actually a matter of indifference what kind of cruelty was being perpetrated on them—or with them—any cruelty enhanced their flavor like hot sauce!”

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