#4 PORNOGRAFIA , by Witold Gombrowicz (1960)
On a cold September evening, in the year of our lord 193_, Poland's preeminent novelist, provocateur, and enfant terrible, Witold Gombrovicz was dreaming of the beach. He had just boarded a cruise ship and set sail for Argentina, a dreamy summerland where he would drop sandward and and pigmentize with his fellow countrymen, spoon them wine, and assure them of a safe return to Poland, now rebuilt and even flourishing after the messy business of World War I. Halfway across the ocean, he received the news: Germany, those bastards, had invaded Poland. Again. And thus, Gombrowicz's beach-side stay stretched from one month to twenty-four years. He would never set foot on his native soil again. This novel, Pornografia, tells the story of his return. It's 194_. Poland is occupied, and an aging intellectual named Witold Gombrovicz travels to a sleepy countryside village. Here, he meets Henia and Karol -- a pair of sixteen year-olds who exude sexuality, who radiate youth -- and becomes obsessed with the idea that they belong together -- even though Henia is engaged to an older man. Witold's fixations are exacerbated by Frydryk, a friend who joins in his antics just as a refugee from the Underground Army decides to crash their village.
Gombrowicz is the summarizer's torment. Like all his books, this one is silly and deep, acrobatic and fun. Dazzling, but not showy. Serious, but not foreboding. My rating: 9/10. Would smash again.