Witold Gombrowicz


In this bitterly funny novel, the hero narrates the story of his absurd transformation from confident 30-year-old man into paranoid teenage boy. Awakening one morning in the grip of fear he receives two unwelcome visitors: a ghost of himself standing in the corner of his room, then Pimko, the diabolic doctor of philosophy. As Pimko talks, the narrator finds himself shrinking and Pimko, in turn, growing larger and larger. So begins a hellish nightmare: Ferdydurke is dragged back to the school playground and forced to experience the cruel outrages which the boys perpetuate on one another all over again.

Immaturity and the tensions generated by the warped relationship between the self and the surrounding world are the main themes running through Gombrowicz’s work, but it is the superb combination of comedy and seriousness that earns Ferdydurke its place as a masterpiece of European modernism.

Witold Gombrowicz was born in Poland in 1904 and has written many other novels including Pornografia, The Possessed, Cosmos and Translatlantic. His plays include Princess Ivona, The Marriage and Operetta.

‘Extravagant, brilliant, disturbing, brave, funny... wonderful…’ Susan Sontag

Originally published in Poland in 1937, Ferdydurke became an instant literary sensation. Deemed scandalous and subversive by Nazis, Stalinists and the Polish Communist regime in turn, the novel was officially banned in Poland for decades but remains one of the most influential works of 20th century European literature.

‘One of the great novelists of our century.’ Milan Kundera

'If history hadn't got in the way, Witold Gombrowicz's madcap Bildungsroman might have become the must-read for pubescent existentialists across Europe... Ferdydurke is a fantastically imagined set-piece of modernism' The Guardian

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Format: Paperback
ISBN: 0-7145-3403-X

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