A brilliant, semiautobiographical satirical novel from one of the foremost figures in twentieth-century Polish literature, now in a new English translation
Considered by many to be among the greatest writers of the past hundred years, Polish novelist Witold Gombrowicz explores the modern predicament of exile and displacement in a disintegrating world in his acclaimed classic Trans-Atlantyk. Gombrowicz’s most personal novel—and arguably his most iconoclastic—Trans-Atlantyk is written in the style of a gaweda, a tale told by the fireside in a language that originated in the seventeenth century. It recounts the often farcical adventures of a penniless young writer stranded in Argentina when the Nazis invade his homeland, and his subsequent “adoption” by the Polish embassy staff and émigré community.
Based loosely on Gombrowicz’s own experiences as an expatriate, Trans-Atlantyk is steeped in humor and sharply pointed satire, interlaced with dark visions of war and its horrors, that entreats the individual and society in general to rise above the suffocating constraints of nationalistic, sexual, and patriotic mores. The novel's themes are universal and its execution ingenious—a masterwork of twentieth-century literary art from an author whom John Updike called “one of the profoundest of the late moderns.”
Witold Gombrowicz (1904–1969) is the author of four novels, several plays, and one major nonfiction work. He was the recipient of the prestigious International Editors’ Award in 1967. Danuta Borchardt is an award-winning translator.
“Having this book in my hands, I felt a joy at the thought that strong personalities, like that of Gombrowicz, sooner or later find recognition thanks to the sheer intensity of their existence.”—Czeslaw Milosz, New York Times
“If ever a life demanded a diary, this was one.”—Paul West, Washington Post
“A heroic translation . . . English-speaking readers can finally experience the diary as Gombrowicz intended it—as a single, coherent work . . . his major creative endeavor.” —Ruth Franklin, New Yorker
“A genuinely astonishing masterwork that is bound to last.”—Eva Hoffman, The New York Times Book Review
‘Since 2000, Danuta Borchardt has been engaged with translating the four novels of Witold Gombrowicz published in his lifetime, and the process is now complete with Trans-Atlantyk. These masterly translations at last provide a satisfying, coherent survey of the author many consider to be among Polish literature’s most untranslatable stylists. . .While Borchardt brings a domesticating tendency, smoothing a few purposefully rough edges, her limpid prose is worth it. Gombrowicz’s arch humour now punches even harder.’—Scott Esposito, Times Literary Supplement
“[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
“The new complete version of Witold Gombrowicz’s Diary is one jubilant, gruesome, unsparing self-portrait.” —Adam Thirlwell, New Statesman
“A wonderfully subversive, self-absorbed, hilarious book. Think Kafka translated by Groucho Marx, with commentaries.”—Kirkus Reviews
"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
“Trans-Atlantyk is indeed an uproarious book, but it is also deadly serious, exploring the dire straits into which blind allegiance to tradition can lead us.”—America magazine
“Most of the book is written in a baroque Polish that flits merrily between tired clichéd phrases, contemporary slurs, and Gombrowiczian neologisms. This slippery, tricky style is offered to the reader in a slim novel that is a joy to read. For this particular joy, we can thank Danuta Borchardt, who is also known for her preeminent translation of Gombrowicz’s magnum opus, the “untranslatable” Ferdydurke, published by Yale University Press in 2000.” —Quarterly Conversation
“The new translation is an improvement over the old, especially because it will be easier to use in teaching, or when introducing new readers to Gombrowicz in general, and also because of its faithful use of capitalization, adding to the interpretative capabilities of readers unable to read the original text.”—Daniel W. Pratt, Slavic and East European Journal
Longlisted for the PEN Translation Prize: For a book-length translation of prose into English published in 2014, given by PEN American Center.
“Ferdydurke, among its centrifugal charms, includes some of the truest and funniest literary satire in print.”—John Updike
Longlisted for the PEN Translation Prize : For a book-length translation of prose into English published in 2014, given by PEN American Center.
~Translation Prize, PEN American Center
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