The Possessed (new translation) - Witold Gombrowicz

Grove Press


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The Possessed - Witold Gombrowicz / ISBN 9780802162526 / 395-page paperback published in 2024 by Grove Press


From “a master of verbal burlesque [and] a connoisseur of psychological blackmail” (John Updike), Witold Gombrowicz’s harrowing and hilarious pastiche of the Gothic novel, now in a new, authoritative English translation

Witold Gombrowicz is considered by many to be Poland’s greatest modernist, and in The Possessed, he demonstrates his playful brilliance and astonishing range by using the familiar tropes of the Gothic novel to produce a darkly funny and lively subversion of the form. With dreams of escaping his small-town existence and the limitations of his class, a young tennis coach travels to the heart of the Polish countryside to train Maja Ochołowska, a beautiful and promising player whose bourgeois family has fallen upon difficult circumstances. Yet as Maja and the young man are alternately drawn to and repulsed by the other, they find themselves embroiled in the fantastic happenings taking place at the dilapidated castle nearby, where a mad prince haunts the halls, and bewitched towels, conniving secretaries, famous clairvoyants, and uncanny doubles conspire to determine the fate of the lovers.

Serialized first in Poland in the days preceding the Nazi invasion, and now translated directly into English for the first time by Antonia Lloyd-Jones, The Possessed is a comic jewel, a hair-raising thriller, and a provocative early masterpiece from the acclaimed author of classics like Pornografia and Cosmos.

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