pornografia by witold gombrowicz

To be able to involve Karol in this … twisting the whole business toward him … and thanks to that the intended death heated up at once and flared up, not only due to Karol but also due to Henia, their hands, legs – and the planned corpse suddenly bloomed with the forbidden, boy-girl, awkward, coarse sensuality (193).

this is the second novel i have read by witold. the first novel i read was kosmos, which i liked much less than pornografia. both were translated by danuta borchardt; i found that kosmos was simply too difficult to read and therefore too difficult to enjoy. pornografia, on the other hand, is a much easier to follow novel and, although slightly schizophrenic at times, a thoroughly enjoyable read. that is, enjoyable if you like books about wartime europe, bored and lusty older men trying to manipulate a young couple into doing their erotic bidding, the plotting of murders, betrayal, and general nastiness that comes along with being part of an underground resistance – THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU!

the narrator, whose name is Witold, is on a country retreat with his friend Fryderyk. while there they meet (the boy) Karol and (the girl) Henia; it is never explained exactly why (the boy) and (the girl) appear in parentheses … the two aging intellectuals creep and scheme to pair off these youngsters; they watch them and offer them strange advice. at one point, (the boy) and (the girl) crush a worm together and this is turned into a highly erotic event by Witold.

there are also disturbing reflections on masculinity in its youth and in old age. a certain level of jealousy accompanies these reflections. however advantageous it is to be young it is (the boy) Karol who submits to the wills of the older men as he is “not yet a man,” whatever that means.

the plot thickens when they involve the young couple in a murder they are plotting. but i have already said too much.

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