By Witold Gombrowicz
Based loosely on Gombrowicz’s personal reports as an expatriate, Trans-Atlantyk is steeped in humor and sharply pointed satire, interlaced with darkish visions of struggle and its horrors, that entreats the person and society often to upward thrust above the suffocating constraints of nationalistic, sexual, and patriotic mores. The novel's subject matters are common and its execution ingenious—a masterwork of twentieth-century literary artwork from an writer whom John Updike known as “one of the profoundest of the past due moderns.”
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Extra info for Trans-Atlantyk: An Alternate Translation
Rotfeder? And here’s director Pintsel, and here’s chairman Kotarzycki, hey, hello, hello, Mr. Chairman, sir! Here’s Mazik, and this is Bumcik, here’s Kulaski, and here’s Polaski! I, walking by his side, likewise courteously bow, my smiles to the right and left I do cast, and thus the snake of Florida Street shimmers, Señoritas on parade! “Look, there stands Mrs. Klejn! 75, then a Third one with his wife looks at a wine-red carpet with a Design, for 350, a fourth fancies English Buckles for 99, a fifth looks at gadgets or a fan, a woman looks at silk lingerie with frothy ruffles, another one at pointed Shoes double-Nelson-style, a man fancies Persian Astrakhan Pipe Tobacco, or a Dinner Set, or else Cinnamon.
I couldn’t understand why the Accountant was talking to him about tears, when the other wasn’t crying . . but just then the pink-cheeked Bookkeeper, at the sight of the aforesaid cute little finger, broke into muffled sobs! Whereupon laughter seized me again: because it was obvious that for ages perhaps this cute little finger, as well as the cheek, tore at the bookkeeper’s old, festering wounds of the heart, and for years perhaps his companion has been comforting him; but instead of the Bookkeeper crying first, and the Accountant then comforting him, they mixed up the sequence of moves, and what was the end came at the beginning!
And ’tis quiet here, a huge, carpeted stairway. At the entrance the janitor greeted me with a bow, and up the stairway to the secretary he led me. On the second floor a great hall, pillared, rather murky inside, cool, sheaths of light shine only through the small panes of the stained-glass windows and settle on the moldings, stucco work and gildings. Councilor Podsrotski,* in his dark-navy-blue-black suit, in a top hat, in gloves as well, came out toward me and, tipping his top hat lightly, for the reason of my visit under his breath began inquiring.