A Guide to Philosophy in Six Hours and Fifteen Minutes

Witold Gombrowicz; Translated by Benjamin Ivry

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April 24, 2012
120 pages, 5 x 7 3/4
ISBN: 9780300181685
PB-with Flaps

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In a small literary gem full of sardonic wit, brilliant insights, and provocative criticism Witold Gombrowicz discusses Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Sartre, and Heidegger in six "one-hour" essays—and addresses Marxism in a "fifteen-minute" piece.

"Who hasn't wished for a painless way to find out what the big shots of philosophy—Hegel and Kant, Nietzsche and Sartre—thought of the human condition? It has never been easy reading such formidable thinkers, and most explainers and textbooks either get it wrong or massacre the language. So imagine my pleasure in opening Witold Gombrowicz's Guide to Philosophy in Six Hours and Fifteen Minutes, an exceptional effort at summarizing concepts in bold, declarative sentences. . . . [This book] is like the course in philosophy you wish you had taken."—David Lehman, Bloomberg News

"A must for every reader of Gombrowicz."—Denis Hollier, New York University

Witold Gombrowicz (1904–1969) is the author of Ferdydurke, 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. Benjamin Ivry is an American writer on the arts, broadcaster, and translator.

“Brilliantly, savagely funny. . . . Gombrowicz is that rare writer in whom the weight of a powerful intellect is leavened by both linguistic daring and an infectious sense of whimsy.”—Benjamin Paloff, The Nation

“Who hasn’t wished for a painless way to find out what the big shots of philosophy—Hegel and Kant, Nietzsche and Sartre—thought of the human condition? It has never been easy reading such formidable thinkers, and most explainers and textbooks either get it wrong or massacre the language. So imagine my pleasure in opening Witold Gombrowicz’s Guide to Philosophy in Six Hours and Fifteen Minutes, an exceptional effort at summarizing concepts in bold, declarative sentences. . . . [This book], which he was working on when he died, is like the course in philosophy you wish you had taken.”—David Lehman, Bloomberg News

“[The translation] provide[s] hope that for the first time it may be possible for those lacking fluency in Polish to enjoy this singular talent for all that he is. . . . He is brilliantly, savagely funny—a philosophical, stylistic and comic genius in one. . . . Gombrowicz is that rare writer in whom the weight of a powerful intellect is leavened by both linguistic daring and an infectious sense of whimsy.”—Benjamin Paloff, The Nation

"The language is both earthy and professional, and it jolts the reader into a realization that 'the meaning of meaning' is by no means self-evident. . . . A Guide to Philosophy is vintage Gombrowicz: concise, sober, lucid, and radically agnostic."—Ewa Thompson, Slavic and East European Journal

"A Gombrowicz book holds the spell of a detective novel that grips our attention to the very end. . . . Benjamin Ivry has several fine translations from French to his credit. His Gombrowicz is no exception. Let us simply say that A Guide to Philosophy reads as if it were written in English rather than translated from French. . . . His guide to philosophy is full of jewels of wisdom definitely worth exploring."—Aleksandra Gruzinska, Rocky Mountain News

“A must for every reader of Gombrowicz.”—Denis Hollier, New York University 


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