An Apprenticeship in Immaturity: Witold Gombrowicz’s Ferdydurke as an Anti-Bildungsroman / Toylukta Bir Çıraklık: Bir Anti-Bildungsroman Örneği Olarak Witold Gombrowicz’ten Ferdydurke

Selin Ever


This article argues that Ferdydurke, Witold Gombrowicz’s  novel published in 1937 in Poland, formally and thematically subverts the classical Bildungsroman. The seminal novel that has propagated the Bildungsroman genre is Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship (1795). Bildungsroman, commonly understood as a narrative of self-formation, was conceived in Germany in the late eighteenth century in the age of humanism and emphasizes the harmonious integration of the individual with society. This social mission also carries over to aesthetic idealism’s notion of form, which is modeled on the organic unity of parts and the whole. Comparing Gombrowicz’s Ferydurke with Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship, the article contends that Ferdydurke displaces Bildungroman’s notion of “beautiful totality” by a grotesque aesthetics of parts that alludes to the collapse of harmonious social relations in the aftermath of the First World War, and on the threshold of the Second. Gombrowicz’s unique articulation of Form as the sedimentation of interpersonal antagonism is embodied in Ferdydurke, which, much like its protagonist, sabotages its own formal maturation through manifestoes, theoretical reflections, narrative digressions, and prefaces to the digressions thrown between the chapters. If the classical Bildungsroman presents us with the image of man in the process of becoming as Bakhtin has argued, Ferdydurke enacts the dissolution of that process in its very form.

Anahtar Kelimeler

Bildungsroman; Gombrowicz; bildung; modernism; Ferdydurke.

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