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Posts Tagged ‘Witold Gombrowicz’

Our Spring Issue Is Here

March 1, 2016 | by

Cover by Adrian Tomine.

Behold: our new Spring issue, with a cover by Adrian Tomine and a shade of yellow bright enough to bring the thaw. It includes an Art of Nonfiction interview with Luc Sante, who talks about growing up in the New York of the seventies and eighties and his fascination with “the intersection of specific time and place”:

This goes back to my teenage years. I would think, Jeez, 1972 feels so different from 1971 ... I meant the feeling on the street, the feeling emanated by people, songs, the contents of the songs, what people were wearing. Trying to reproduce that elusive factor—it’s something I’ve tried to write about many, many times, and it’s impossible. I can only do it, kind of, by indirection. But my spelunking in that direction has nourished a lot of my work.

Sante contributed our portfolio, too: an annotated collection of the magazine ­covers, collages, flyers, and ephemera of his youth.

And Robert Caro, who has devoted himself to a five-volume life of Lyndon Johnson since 1976, discusses the Art of Biography:

Rhythm matters. Mood matters. Sense of place matters. All these things we talk about with novels, yet I feel that for history and biography to accomplish what they should accomplish, they have to pay as much attention to these devices as novels do.

You’ll also find James Tate’s final poem, discovered in his typewriter after his death; a story by Witold Gombrowicz never before published in English; the fourth and final installment of Chris Bachelder’s comic masterpiece The Throwback Special; new fiction from Jensen Beach, Benjamin Hale, Dana Johnson, Craig Morgan Teicher, and Anne-Laure Zevi; and poems by John Ashbery, Mary Jo Bang, Erica Ehrenberg, Amit Majmudar, J. D. McClatchy, Morgan Parker, Mary Ruefle, Frederick Seidel, and Cynthia Zarin.

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Birthday Suit

August 4, 2014 | by


Not, here, in his birthday suit. Photo: Bohdan Paczowski

What did Śmieja say about me in the discussion in defense of my diary? “His brutality, egocentrism, and arrogance toward writers of lesser stature may be distressing … ”

But no! He misinterprets me! With me there are no “writers of lesser stature.” This again is a collective viewpoint. It is true that I sometimes demolish, with gusto, in jest, by attacking, writers, but only those who prance around in their epaulets. I have never really taken part in a single duel while clad in my stripes and epaulets; I have never written a single word dressed in anything but my birthday suit.

—Witold Gombrowicz, 1961, Diary

Witold Gombrowicz was born 110 years ago today. In 2012, the Daily published five excerpts from Gombrowicz’s Diary, widely considered his masterpiece. You can read them here.


Friday: Me

June 15, 2012 | by

Gombrowicz in 1965.

We told each other our dreams. Nothing in art, even the most inspired mysteries of music, can equal dreams. The artistic perfection of dreams! How many lessons this nocturnal archmaster gives to us, the daily fabricators of dreams, the artists! In a dream everything is pregnant with a dreadful and unfinished meaning, nothing is indifferent, everything reaches us more deeply, more intimately than the most heated passion of the day. This is the lesson: an artist cannot be restricted to day, he has to reach the night life of humanity and seek its myths and symbols. Also: the dream upsets the reality of the experienced day and extracts certain fragments from it, strange fragments, and arranges them illogically in an arbitrary pattern. Read More »


Thursday: Me

June 14, 2012 | by

Witold and Rita Gombrowicz with their dog Psina in Vence, France, 1967.

Should I tell or not? A year ago, more or less, the following happened to me. I stopped in a café on Callao Street to use the bathroom … All kinds of drawings and scribblings were on the walls. Yet the unconscious urge would never have assailed me, like a poisonous dart, if I hadn’t accidentally fumbled across a pencil in my pocket. The pencil turned out to be an ink pen.

Enclosure, isolation, the certainty that nobody would see, some sort of stillness … and the murmur of water whispered: do it, do it, do it. I took out the pencil. I wet the tip. Read More »


Wednesday: Me

June 13, 2012 | by

A page from Gombrowicz's diary.

Yesterday at the Polish Club, I dropped by right at the end of the steamrollering of my soul and works. The paper that was positive about me was the work of Karol Swierczewski and Mrs. Jezierska read a paper against. A discussion followed at whose conclusion I appeared.

Thomas Mann, an experienced connoisseur in these matters, said that an art that grows in the light of recognition from the very beginning will undoubtedly be different from an art that must win a place for itself with difficulty, and at the price of much humiliation. How would my work have looked if from its very inception it had been crowned with a laurel wreath; if even today, so many years later, I did not have to devote myself to it as to something forbidden, shameful, and inappropriate? Read More »


Tuesday: Me

June 12, 2012 | by

Gombrowicz in Malosyce, 1909.

Zygmunt Grocholski’s vernissage in Galatea. Portfolios full of engravings on the table. Large surfaces soaked in color on the walls. Compositions frozen in proud abstraction look down from the walls onto the sloppy human anthill; a mob of disorderly two-legged creatures tumbling past in wild disarray. On the walls: Astronomy. Logic. Composition. In the gallery: Confusion. Imbalance. An excess of unorganized detail, which overflows on all sides. Accompanied by the Dutch painter Gesinus, I comment on one of the engravings, on which certain masses are harnessed by the slanted tensions of lines and are like a horse reined in and frozen in a leap, when someone’s behind nudges under my rib cage. I jump  back. This turns out to be a photographer, bent over and aiming his box at the more important guests.

Thrown off balance, I try, nevertheless, to compose myself. In the presence of Alice de Landes, I feel myself drifting into a certain colorful fugue subject to its own laws when something rolls over me like a water buffalo or hippopotamus, barbarian style … Who? The photographer, stretched beyond all endurance, shooting doublets en face and profiles.

Read More »