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Yale University Press did a fine job of promoting Witold Gombrowicz with its anachronistic translation by Carolyn French and Nina Karsov of TRANS-ATLANTYK, published in 1994. The Introduction by Stanislaw Baranczak describes how Witold Gombrowicz arrived in Buenos Aires on August 21, 1939, eleven days before the Nazi invasion of Poland presented Gombrowicz with the fundamental dilemma of human existence in which he refused to take the ocean liner Boleslaw Chobry back to Europe. His new situation obviously called for some literary explanation of how his life had changed since he had been lauded in his homeland as the author of the novel FERDYDURKE. As the Introduction explains, the world had to wait until 1953 for the little book, 122 pages, that captures how events had put Gombrowicz into a situation so intense that TRANS-ATLANTYK was his `Life Line,' to incorporate by reference a great song by Harry Nilsson from a great cartoon story called `The Point.'
"Begun in 1948, it appeared only in 1953, sixteen years after FERDYDURKE. To be sure, Gombrowicz did not spend all of that time chiseling TRANS-ATLANTYK's fine points. During most of the war and postwar years he was reduced to struggling for survival, coping with extreme poverty and wasting his energies on a job as a bank clerk offered to him by a Polish banker in Buenos Aires. According to Gombrowicz, he wrote TRANS-ATLANTYK on his desk at the bank, hiding the manuscript whenever his superior entered the room." (p. xiii).
" . . . this novel, perhaps the most grotesquely fantastic ever written in Polish, is also the most personal and engaging of all Gombrowicz's works of fiction." (p. xiv).
In Poland, "TRANS-ATLANTYK appeared in 1957 and immediately became a modern classic, in spite of the modest printing of ten thousand copies." (p. xx).
On a personal level, Stanislaw Baranczak credits TRANS-ATLANTYK with helping a group of Polish literature majors prepare for their final exam on Marxist political economy in May 1967 by roaring with laughter the night before the exam at lines like, "I'm not so mad as to have any views These Days or not to have them." (p. xxi).
A Note on Pronunciation on page xxviii includes the author's name:
Witold Gombrowicz VEE-told gom-BROH-veetch
Whereupon I commented to my neighbor, and quite loudly so that he there could hear: "I don't like Butter too Buttery, Noodles too Noodly, Millet too Millety and Barley too Barley!" (p. 32).
Cursed that warp of Mankind! Cursed that swine of ours wallowing in mud! Cursed that Slough of ours! Indeed that one who Walked there, with whom I Walked, was no Bull, but a cow! (p. 36).
A Man who, being a Man, fain would not be a Man but after Men chases, and after them Flies, admires, oh, Loves, Heats for them, Lusts for them, Hungers for them, makes up to them, simpers, adulates them, him folks hereabouts give the contemptuous name "puto." Upon seeing those lips, the which although a Man's with woman's rouge bled, I could have no trace of doubt that my lot was to have happen to me a Puto. It was he and I who before all Walked, Walked as in a couple forever coupled! (p. 36).