Ferdydurke is not the name of a character in Witold Gombrowicz’s astonishing 1937 debut novel. Nor is Ferdydurke a word in any (known) language. What it is is a piece of inspired gibberish serving as the eminent foundation for what is arguably the interwar period’s greatest comic novel of ideas. When we speak of surrealism we immediately evoke a French school of art and misbehaviour, also a product (largely) of the 30s, c/o André Breton & co. 

There is also an Eastern surrealism both in literature and the visual else. Its’s a whole other fish entirely! If Bruno Schulz and Grombrowicz are Poland’s foremost masters within the idiom, FERDYDURKE itself stands out on account of its epic insubordination. 

-J.P.W.

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