Sunday, March 29, 2009

COSMOS by Witold Gombrowicz

Gombrowicz's Cosmos is a mercifully short novel that works very well until about the halfway point. When the characters go to the mountains, the author seems to lose control of things. Too many new characters are introduced and too little is done with them; the absurdist eerieness of the first half descends to near-melodrama; the author's repetitions begin to annoy. It appears that by the book's midpoint Gombrowicz had written himself into a corner and couldn't think of a satisfactory way out, couldn't keep up the tension and weirdness much longer, so he simply sent all his characters away and killed one of them off to hasten a denouement. On the positive side, the early 'investigation' sections are quite well done, like a cross between Kafka, Beckett and Robbe-Grillet, an interesting dramatization of the absurdity (or is it impossibility?) of narrative in a world of chaos.

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