Authors Gombrowicz literature Novelists

Witold Gombrowicz: Cosmos {1965}

“How quickly the thief feels the policeman’s eye upon him. When one considers the fantastic quantity of sounds and shapes that impinge upon one at each and every moment of one’s life, what is easier than to combine two and two into a pattern where none exists. For a moment the thought surprised me, like a wild beast in a dark forest. But then it was swallowed up again in the chaos of seven people talking and eating. Dinner was still going on.”

“What story? Fiddlesticks! Berging with the berg in the berg. Don’t you see? Bamberging with the Bamberg. Tri-li-li-lee. He went on in a sly tone of voice. He moved his arms and even his legs as if he were dancing joyfully. Mechanically he repeated berg, berg, which seemed to come up from almost unfathomable depths. Then he calmed down and waited.”

“So I dropped the sparrow to concentrate on the mouth and a kind of exhausting game of tennis set in, for the sparrow returned me to the mouth and the mouth returned me to the Sparrow. I was the ball in the middle and each was hidden by the other. As soon as I caught the mouth, really caught it as if I had lost it, I was aware that besides this side of the house there was the other and that besides the mouth there was the lonely hanged sparrow. And the worst of it was that it was impossible to place the sparrow on the same map as the mouth, it belonged to an entirely different one, a different area altogether, a fortuitous and entirely absurd and irrelevant area. So why did it keep on haunting me, it had no right to. No, it had no right to. No right to? The less excuse there was for it, the more it obsessed me, the more difficult it was to shake off; the less right it had the closer it clung and the more significant it became.”

—–All selections from Cosmos {1965}; translation by Mosbacher.