«pl.it / rassegna italiana di argomenti polacchi», 11, 2020, pp. 102-118

Giovanna Tomassucci

University of Pisa / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

“I owed a great deal to them”. Some hypotheses about the paradoxes of Jewish assimilation in Gombrowicz’s works

ABSTRACT. My aim is to contextualise and reflect on the ambivalences of Gombrowicz’s view of the interwar Polish Jews both in his satirical short story The Brief Memoir of Jakób Czarniecki (1933), focused on the mechanisms of the exclusion of Jews from the Polish society, as well in his later controversial declarations in The Diary and in Polish Memories. During the interwar period, assimilated Jews represented a significant part of Polish cultural life: Gombrowicz’s colleagues, reviewers, readers, friends, and his publisher were Jews. The Polish writer was linked with the assimilated creative intelligentsia by a dynamic of enchantment and disenchantment: on the one hand, he observed its typical neurosis of mimicking the Gentiles; on the other hand, he esteemed Jews’ open-mindedness and creativity, considering them as potential allies in this fight against the Polish Form. My hypothesis is that deep penetration of Jewishness into 20th-century Polish culture and society offered Gombrowicz some living models not only for Czarniecki’s story but also for his philosophy of Form.

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