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Bacacay

Overview

A balloonist finds himself set upon by erotic lepers ... a passenger on a ship notices a human eye on the deck ... a group of aristocrats enjoys a vegetarian dish made from human flesh ... a virginal young girl gnaws raw meat from a bone ... a notorious ruffian is terrorized by a rat. Welcome to the bizarre universe of Witold Gombrowicz, whose legendary short story collection is presented here for the first time in English. These tales are utterly unique in world literature. ...
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Bacacay

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Overview

A balloonist finds himself set upon by erotic lepers ... a passenger on a ship notices a human eye on the deck ... a group of aristocrats enjoys a vegetarian dish made from human flesh ... a virginal young girl gnaws raw meat from a bone ... a notorious ruffian is terrorized by a rat. Welcome to the bizarre universe of Witold Gombrowicz, whose legendary short story collection is presented here for the first time in English. These tales are utterly unique in world literature.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Best known for his novels (Ferdydurke) and plays (Princess Ivona), Gombrowicz (1904-69) was also a deft short story writer. This collection was first published in his native Poland in 1957 and appears here in English for the first time. The stories are at once humorous, surreal, and absurd. In "A Premeditated Crime," the narrator discovers the head of household dead and with no physical evidence decides that the death was murder and pushes the family to a startling breaking point. "Dinner at Countess Parahoke's" recounts one of the countess's vegetarian suppers, where the cauliflower may not be what it seems. In "Philidor's Child Within," two academic adversaries carry their studies too far when their duel leads to the death of one's wife and the other's lover. A town bully is captured and tortured with a rat for over a decade in "A Rat." The characters and plots are unsettling enough to make it difficult to shake the stories off after reading them; however, their pacing and dated topics make large public demand unlikely. Recommended for academic collections.-Heather Wright, ASRC Aerospace Corp., Cincinnati Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Conformity and logical coherence are rudely deranged in a dozen early tales from Poland's urbane misanthrope (1904-69). As in Gombrowicz's airily bizarre novels (Ferdydurke, Cosmos, Pornografia, etc.), lucid, concise narratives are weighted with outrageous premises and absurd developments that recall the work of Kafka, Beckett, Bruno Schulz, and (especially) Ionesco. Everything challenges the reader's expectations. A peevish recluse becomes the infatuated stalker of a stranger who reproves his boorishness ("Lawyer Kraykowski's Daner"). The son of a Gentile father and Jewish mother experiences "moral ruination" as a consequence of his parents' incompatibility ("The Memoirs of Stefan Czarniecki"). An aging civil servant courts unlovely housemaids, protesting his life of stifling respectability ("On the Kitchen Steps"). Ministers rebel inefficiently against a willfully mad monarch ("The Banquet"). And a delicious stew ostensibly featuring a murdered child's flesh is served to jaded aristocrats in the cheerfully mordant "Dinner at Countess Pavahoke's."Johnston's brilliant translations vividly convey the radically unconventional content and style of one of the strangest-and greatest-of writers.
From the Publisher
Gombrowicz is one of the most original and gifted writers of the twentieth century: he belongs at the very summit, at the side of his kindred spirits, Kafka and Céline. This collection of his stories will serve as an admirable and fascinating introduction to his oeuvre. —Washington Post Books World

These are weird and wonderful and erudite as anything by Borges and Joyce…It¢s safe to think of Bacacay as Gombrowicz¢s Dubliners: a collection of complex and sophisticated short stories that contain within them all the seeds of the author¢s later artistic blooming. —The Believer

This version of Bacacay raises the bar for all Gombrowicz translations and makes an excellent introduction for readers new to his tragicomic world. —The Nation

As in Gombrowicz¢s airily bizarre novels…lucid, concise narratives are weighted with outrageous premises and absurd developments that recall the work of Kafka, Beckett, Bruno Schulz, and (especially) Ionesco… Johnston¢s brilliant translations vividly convey the radically unconventional content and style of one of the 20th century¢s strangest—and greatest—writers. —Kirkus Reviews

Grotesque, erotic, and often hilarious, the stories immediately established Gombrowicz's extraordinary voice...As creepy as Poe and as absurdist as Kafka.—The New Yorker

Gombrowicz’s extravagant, gleefully anarchic gifts explode on every page of his early collection Bacacay. And the wit and verve Bill Johnston brings to his daunting task produce a translatorly tour de force—the most riotously readable English Gombrowicz yet. —Clare Cavanagh

One of the great novelists of our century. —Milan Kundera

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780972869294
  • Publisher: Steerforth Press
  • Publication date: 9/24/2004
  • Pages: 275
  • Sales rank: 1,063,437
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 7.83 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Meet the Author

Witold Gombrowicz (1904-1969) is considered the most remarkable Polish prose writer of the 20th century. He is the author of Ferdydurke, Trans-Atlantyk, Pornografia, and Cosmos, as well as plays, stories, and his Diary. Gombrowicz lived in Buenos Aires for over twenty years and spent his last in France. In 1967 he was awarded the Prix Formentor for his contribution to world literature.

Bill Johnston is the Chair of the Comparative Literature Department at Indiana University. His translations include Magdalens Tulli's Dreams and Stones, Moving Parts, Flaw, and In Red. His 2008 translation of Tadeusz Róflewicz's new poems won the inaugural Found in Translation Prize and was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Poetry Award.

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Read an Excerpt

Lawyer Kraykowski’s Dancer

I was on my way to see the operetta "The Gypsy Princess" for the thirty-fourth time —and, since it was late, I bypassed the line and went straight to the lady at the ticket window: "My dear madam, please just quickly give me my usual, in the balcony"—when sud- denly someone took hold of me from behind, and coldly—yes, coldly —dragged me away from the window and pushed me back to my proper place, i.e. the end of the line. My heart began pound- ing, I was short of breath—is it not a murderous thing when a person is suddenly taken by the collar in a public spot?—but I looked around: He was a tall, vigorous, fragrant individual with a short, trimmed mustache. He was conversing with two fashion- ably dressed ladies and one gentleman, and checking the tickets he had just bought.

They all looked at me —and I had to say something.

"Was it you who did me the honor?" I asked in a tone that might have been ironic, perhaps even sinister, but since I suddenly came over weak, I said it too quietly.

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Table of Contents

Lawyer Kraykowski's dancer 3
The memoirs of Stefan Czarniecki 17
A premeditated crime 35
Dinner at Countess Pavahoke's 76
Virginity 103
Adventures 121
The events on the Banbury 142
Philidor's child within 194
Philibert's child within 212
On the kitchen steps 216
The rat 241
The banquet 258
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