Gombrowicz with Magritte

My French paperback translation of Bakakai has Magritte’s Golconde on the cover — rain imagined as men in bowler hats descending from a blue sky.

Maybe it’s because of this cover, but I can’t not think of Magritte when I think of Gombrowicz. The two are never very far apart in my mind. I picture them both as a little bit aloof and alone. For some reason, I picture them both in bowler hats.

I imagine them both, Magritte and Gombrowicz, struggling to find a method to cut through appearances and find something true, something rock solid, lying underneath. In both cases — as painting, or as fiction — the result is surrealistic, as well as charming and humane. You could escape into one of Magritte’s evening paintings, just like you can escape into G.’s Diary.

I even imagine their domesticity similarly — with their wives and dogs (in Gombrowicz’s case, only late in life).

When I look at the photo of G. and his wife Rita, from the cover of her book Gombrowicz w Europie, Paul Simon’s song “Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War” (based on a photo caption that captured the songwriter’s imagination) runs through my head.

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