Ferdydurke

Witold Gombrowicz; Translated by Danuta Borchardt; Foreword by Susan Sontag

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April 24, 2012
320 pages, 5 x 7 3/4
ISBN: 9780300181678
PB-with Flaps

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In this bitterly funny novel a writer finds himself tossed into a chaotic world of schoolboys by a diabolical professor who wishes to reduce him to childishness. Originally published in Poland in 1937, Ferdydurke was deemed scandalous and subversive by Nazis, Stalinists, and the Polish Communist regime in turn and was officially banned in Poland for decades. It has nonetheless remained one of the most influential works of twentieth-century European literature.

"Ferdydurke, among its centrifugal charms, includes some of the truest and funniest literary satire in print."—John Updike

"A wonderfully subversive, self-absorbed, hilarious book. Think Kafka translated by Groucho Marx, with commentaries."—Kirkus Reviews

"The author's exuberant humor, suggesting the absurdist drama of Eugéne Ionesco, if not the short fiction of Franz Kafka, is readily apparent in this new translation. . . . Highly recommended."—Richard Koss, Library Journal

Winner of the 2001 National Translation Award given by the American Literary Translators Association

Witold Gombrowicz is the author of A Guide to Philosophy in Six Hours and Fifteen Minutes, Trans-Atlantyk, Cosmos, and Pornografia, the first three available from Yale University Press. These, along with his plays and his Diary, have been translated into more than thirty languages. Danuta Borchardt has translated several works by Witold Gombrowicz. She is also a writer of short stories, which are regularly published on the website Exquisite Corpse.

“Extravagant, brilliant, disturbing, brave, funny—wonderful. . . . Long live its sublime mockery.”—Susan Sontag, from the foreword

Ferdydurke, among its centrifugal charms, includes some of the truest and funniest literary satire in print.”—John Updike


















“This promises to be, at last, the English translation of Ferdydurke that we have all been waiting for.”—Stanislaw Baranczak, Harvard University

“A wonderfully subversive, self-absorbed, hilarious book. Think Kafka translated by Groucho Marx, with commentaries.”—Kirkus Reviews


“[T]he author’s exuberant humor, suggesting the absurdist drama of Eugéne Ionesco, if not the short fiction of Franz Kafka, is readily apparent in this new translation. . . . Highly recommended for collections specializing in modern and Eastern European literature.” —Richard Koss, Library Journal

Ferdydurke is one of the most bracing, direct books ever written about sexual desire—this without a single scene of sexual union.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Some readers will find this novel exhilarating, some will judge it ‘lunatic’ as did the London Times, but everybody will probably agree that it should not be ignored as an example of satire, or, maybe, of a writer who mocks the reader. . . . If one likes existentialist writers, surrealistic novelists, and wicked ironists, one will appreciate this work by Gombrowicz.”—Polish Library News

"Borchardt and Yale University Press are to be commended for giving us an unabridged, faithful, and very polished version of Gombrowicz’s masterpiece."—Gerard T. Kapolka, Polish Review

“[A] masterpiece of European modernism. . . . Susan Sontag ushers this new translation into print with a strong and useful foreword, calling Gombrowicz’s tale ‘extravagant, brilliant, disturbing, brave, funny . . . wonderful.’ And it is.”—Publishers Weekly

“Think of Alice in Wonderland crossed with Darkness at Noon and you’ll have some idea of the turbulent texture of this rowdy postmodernist masterpiece: a withering satire on the tactic of regimentation and a surly declaration of the perverse survival instinct of the writer’s imagination.”—Bruce Allen, Raleigh News and Observer

“This new edition of Ferdyduke marks the first Polish-to-English translation of Gombrowicz’s novel, originally published in 1937, and the important return of a long out-of-print modernist classic.”—Review of Contemporary Fiction

“[An] irreducibly, brilliantly original novel. It is a book that bristles with indefatigable resources of satire, parody and irony. . . . We must admire the courage of Danuta Borchardt who offers us the first English text of the novel that is taken directly from the Polish and that . . . is faithful to the substance of the original and gives the reader a good, zesty flavor of Gombrowicz’s inspired idiosyncrasy. . . . A genuinely astonishing masterwork that is bound to last.”—Eva Hoffman, The New York Times Book Review

“A classic in Poland now available in the U.S. It’s a quirky, surreal novel that makes for an enjoyable read.”—Brenda Hough, University Press Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries

Winner of the 2001 National Translation Award, given by the American Literary Translators Association

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