No Mean Bookkeeping


Over at Eurozine, an interview with Jerzy Jarzebski, editor of Gombrowicz's Kronos:

Adam Puchejda: How would you describe Gombrowicz's Kronos? Is it private, intimate, sublime, banal?

Jerzy Jarzebski: Ambivalent. It is private, personal and intimate, but at the same time it is none of these. Primarily, it is a record of facts that are not private as such. It contains the humdrumness of life. I met with this and that person, I drank another cup of coffee, I signed a contract with the publishing house, etc. Of course, in Kronos you can also find very personal fragments, the ones dealing with Gombrowicz's sexual and emotional relationships, but throughout the text he tries to be strictly objective. This is a record that Gombrowicz writes for himself in order to read it again and again, trying to grasp a sense of his own life. If you think about it this way, you understand why this text strives to be at least an attempt to record an objective, factual truth. It becomes personal only when you start to interpret it – something that Gombrowicz does himself, even within the text.

AP: But how can you make any sense of this tangle of names, dates and events, a sort of raw record of almost all life's events?

JJ: Gombrowicz was a metaphysician and, at various moments of his life, looked for a pattern in his own existence. When he sailed back from Argentina to Europe – we read in his Diary – he expected to see the “Chrobry” sailing in the opposite direction. The Chrobry was the name of the ship he took to Argentina in the first place, 24 years earlier. Seeing it again, in accordance with the vision that Gombrowicz entertains, would be a sign that the period of his life spent in Argentina has come to an end. Sometimes Gombrowicz – already in Kronos – is playing with numbers and it is very funny, because he is not able to add two and two. Wherever there are calculations, we find in them some horrendous mistakes, but it was on these erroneous calculations that Gombrowicz based his conclusions.