A Guide to Philosophy in Six Hours and Fifteen Minutes

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Witold Gombrowicz; Translated by Benjamin Ivry

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Witold Gombrowicz (1904-1969), novelist, essayist, and playwright, was one of the most important Polish writers of the twentieth century. A candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1968, he was described by Milan Kundera as “one of the great novelists of our century” and by John Updike as “one of the profoundest of the late moderns.”
Gombrowicz’s works were considered scandalous and subversive by the ruling powers in Poland and were banned for nearly forty years. He spent his last years in France teaching philosophy; this book is a series of reflections based on his lectures.
Gombrowicz discusses Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Sartre, and Heidegger in six “one-hour” essays and addresses Marxism in a shorter “fifteen-minute” piece. The text—a small literary gem full of sardonic wit, brilliant insights, and provocative criticism—constructs the philosophical lineage of his work.

Witold Gombrowicz is the author of Ferdydurke, Trans-Atlantyk, Cosmos, and Pornografia, the first three available from Yale University Press. These, along with his plays and the three-volume Diary, have been translated into more than thirty languages.

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

“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
ISBN: 9780300104097
Publication Date: September 10, 2004
128 pages, 5 x 7 3/4

Sales Restrictions: For sale in North America only
Polish Memories

Witold Gombrowicz; Translated by Bill Johnston

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Witold Gombrowicz; Translated by Danuta Borchardt; Foreword

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Witold Gombrowicz; Translated by Lillian Vallee

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An Alternate Translation

Witold Gombrowicz; Translated by Danuta Borchardt

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