Reading of Witold Gombrowicz's "Kronos" motivated me to re-read some of his works again. Nothing more logical than going for his first, "Ferdydurke".
I read it first some 25 years ago, in Croatian translation, and later also in Polish original, probably this very example I read this time. As usual, the book is the same, the reader changes.
When in my first reading I was a pup-pup-pupil myself, which could
participate in some enaction of the scenes from the book; later I was a bit less ...pup-pupil, and now I am rather on the other side, of Pimko, the Pedagogue. Less pup-pupile? Hope so.
It is interesting that, reading it, I recalled some characters from that shadowy world of education. And that the most sad and pathetic characters were some I knew recently, not at all the old "educators" from my school time, but some of my colleagues. Eh! Probably Gombrowicz himself saw many of the people around below their "serious" skin.
This work is not a satire, I see it more like a vivisection of an imperfection of society, a failure of pretending to be governed by grown-ups, when it is in fact a non-cooked meal. It is incredible that Gombrowicz wrote it in 1935!, but then, this was the time which, in prediction of the slaughter to come, gave birth to many a unexpected work. I think that in 25 years I will still find it amusing.
Classical parts of this book are two pieces which also stand alone in the short-stories collection of his works: the sketches about Philidor and Philibert's Child Within. The first, with it's absurd analysis and synthesis, and the second, with its equally absurd line of events in the most "serious" and linear part of the society, is a grotesque and, in fact, vividly realistic reminder of the socially agreed quality of the less earthly portions of our world. If only for those two, Gombrowicz should be remembered as a great writer!