New information emerges about the unknown, intimate journal of Witold Gombrowicz, written by the author from around 1953 until his death in 1969. The much-anticipated journal is released in Polish by the publisher Wydawnictwo Literackie on the 23rd of May 2013.
The newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza’s Paweł Goźliński and Małgorzata Niemczyńska are among the few people to have seen the original Kronos notes, and reveal some details in the paper's edition of the 24th of February:
Kronos is a few dozen written pages. An accountant’s record of events, of sexual intercourse with women and men, of meetings, illnesses, therapies and medical procedures.
Gombrowicz wrote Kronos by hand on loose pieces of paper, over a period that corresponds more or less with the writing of his Diary – a work that won him international fame. The first records come from 1953 or 1954, and the last were written in 1969, shortly before Gombrowicz’s death. He entrusted his wife with taking care of this alternative, unofficial journal. Rita Gombrowicz has now decided to publish the work.
The Kronos pages consist mostly of current accounts but, as pointed out by Goźliński and Niemczyńska, in this journal Gombrowicz also chronologizes his past. In Polityka magazine, Justyna Sobolewska remarks that in Kronos, the writer directly addresses his pains and illnesses, as well as issues of lacking money. The writings in much of Kronos are fragmentary in form, and include lists and tables.
Contrasting Kronos and the Diary, Goźliński and Niemczyńska write:
It is devoid of literary self-creation, and it doesn’t take up the battle with Polish character and stupid intellectual trends nor does it fight for the author’s grandeur. Kronos is deliberately anti-literary.
Janusz Palikot, the leader of a Polish political party who once owned the Kronos manuscript and a publishing house, also points to the anti-literary and sensational character of the work. Palikot had intended to publish Kronos, and calls the journal a "shocking document":
First and foremost due to the notes about the author’s erotic life, both homo and heterosexual. In this respect it is a scandal, although surely less so than it would have been 50 years ago.
Goźliński and Niemczyńska indicate that Kronos and Gombrowicz's famous Diary should be read together:
On the one hand, we will see the directed and edited life of the Diary, and on the other, life in its naked and ordered facts in Kronos. A battle for fame and recognition on one side, and on the other – a struggle to survive. The adventures of a thinking man in the Diary, and the rebellious, aging and sick body in Kronos.
The publisher responsible for editing Gombrowicz's oeuvre, Wydawnictwo Literackie, will publish Kronos on the 23rd of May. The text is now being edited, with expert commentaries to explain varying contexts.
translated by Paulina Schlosser
Sources: Gazeta Wyborcza, Polityka