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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not exactly 'a gas' but notable, 7 Dec 2008
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Sporus (Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ferdydurke (Paperback)
A conceit rather than a fantasy in which the 30-year old narrator hero is 'demoted' by a small-minded professor (and consequently by Polish society) to the status of a teenager. Returned to the impotence of the school yard and lodged with a 'modern' family, 'Joey' becomes a victim of his own self-consciousness. Seeing through adult stratagems while incapable of finding meaningful aspirations, he spins like a bug in an ocean current to the most expedient, shameful impulses - self-pitying, resentful, petty and above all voyeuristic. The original, 1937 success of 'Ferdydurke' presumably owed much to its ranging assault on Polish society, while its continued renown lies in Gombrowicz's verbal informalities that gives it claim to be associated with Joyce, Pessoa and Musil. This edition features a nobly painstaking translation by Danuta Borchardt who has opted for a deliberate 'American' usage that delivers up geo-specific words like 'bleachers', curiously dated slang ('What a gas'), and and neologisms like 'aerobics' (not popularly coined before 1968). Gombrowicz repeatedly uses two key terms in the book - 'mug' (as in 'face') and 'arse' - to describe two aspects of human behaviour. 'Mug' points to the public presentation that we try to manipulate but perhaps don't wholly own; while 'arse' suggests the tender, pampered self that is inveterately vulnerable and (from parental attentions to school yard abuse and ever onwards) always subject to social control. Borchardt uses the word 'mug', but feels that 'arse' (or any of its many synonyms) is insufficiently distinctive to carry Gombrowicz's intentions - and so opts to leave the Polish word 'pupa' unchanged. Unfortunately 'pupa' has a wholly different connotation in English whose association with adolescence is confusingly inappropriate. The book is subsequently skewed in a way that recalls the first translator of Freud, who chose to use the latin word 'ego' instead of Freud's deliberately informal 'I' - and spawned an academic industry as a result. 'Ferdydurke' is a rare and sporadically rewarding book, 'an epic in defence of immaturity' as Susan Sontag rightly says in her introduction... but the clatter of pompous academic praise that adorns its jacket is tellingly ironic; and you puzzle over John Updike's description of 'one of the funniest literary satires in print' when at no point do you actually laugh.
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0 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Content, 10 Dec 2009
By 
I. Jarzebska "Belka" (England UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ferdydurke (Paperback)
I recived the book about 10 days I ordered it but I am quite happy with that.
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Ferdydurke (Twentieth Century Classics)
Ferdydurke (Twentieth Century Classics) by Witold Gombrowicz (Paperback - 23 Nov 1989)
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