Home > 1920, 20th Century, EU Book Tour, Gombrowicz Witold, Polish Literature, Short Stories, TBR20 > Three short stories from Bacacay by Witold Gombrowicz

Three short stories from Bacacay by Witold Gombrowicz

Three Short Stories from Babacay by Witold Gombrowicz. (1928) French version : Le festin chez la Comtesse Fritouille et autres nouvelles. Translated from the Polish by Georges Sédir.

French publisher Folio has this collection of little books at 2€ each to make reader discover forgotten texts or try new writers. They usually are about 120 pages long and cover various types of literature. I bought Le festin chez la Comtesse Fritouille because I’d never read anything by Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz and I wanted to try one of his books.

My copy is a collection of three short stories coming from Bacacay, a larger collection of Gombrowicz’s short stories. This Folio 2€ includes A Premeditated Crime, Dinner at Countess Pavahoke’s and Virginity. The three were written in 1928. The French translation by Georges Sédir follows the translation codes that consist in translating names even if it’s not necessary. This is how you end up with characters named Antoine and Cécile in A Premeditated Crime or a countess Fritouille instead of Pavahoke. According to Google Translate, Pavahoke does mean Fritouille in French but I have no idea what it means and the internet is clueless too.

A Premeditated Crime is the story of a judge who arrives at the estate of Ignace K. They were old schoolmates and have a business meeting about an inheritance affair. When the judge arrives at the estate, he discovers that Ignace K. just died from a heart attack. The judge being a judge can’t help wondering if this death is natural or not. From then on, he’ll do his best to find everything strange and prove that Mr K. was murdered. Is the judge delusional or was Mr K. really killed in cold blood?

Dinner at Countess Pavahoke’s is told by a bourgeois who is invited to the Countess Pavahoke’s exclusive Friday dinners. These dinners are reserved to special guests and are the days where they only eat simple meals made of vegetables. This would be considered as stingy if it were organized by common people but since it’s set up by an aristocrat, it’s fashionable. Follows the description of a cruel and extraordinary diner but writing more about it would spoil the short story.

Virginity is the strange tale of Alice and Paul. They have been engaged for four years and Paul is just back from China to finally marry his fiancée. Paul is obsessed with Alice’s virginity and innocence. She’s 21 but what he loves most about her is this feeling of purity. But Alice’s mind is not as pure as Paul’s would like. I must confess I didn’t understand where Gombrowicz wanted to go with this story. If someone can enlighten me, comments and explanations are welcome.

I enjoyed Gombrowicz’s wits (and I’m not going to try to say this aloud, my French tongue is already in a twist) and his curious ideas for stories. He has a great sense of dark humour.

This is one of my contribution to Marina Sofia’s #EU27 Project – Reading the European Union.


  1. May 13, 2017 at 1:28 am

    In the Anglo-sphere, Penguin has been bringing out very short, small books like tasters too. A response to the claim that people are too time poor to read, I suppose…


    • May 13, 2017 at 8:11 pm

      I’m more optimistic: it’s a nudge to try new writers at little cost.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. May 13, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    Coincidence: I was thinking yesterday that I haven’t read enough Polish books.


    • May 13, 2017 at 8:11 pm

      Somehow, we often manage to be in sync. Weird, no?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. May 14, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    Thank you for contributing to the EU27 Project, Emma! An interesting writer, who I don’t think has been translated into English.


    • May 14, 2017 at 2:15 pm

      Yes he has. That’s where I picked the title Babacay.


      • May 14, 2017 at 2:19 pm

        OK, I’ve done a search and I found something called Bacacay published by Archipelago Books.


        • May 14, 2017 at 2:26 pm

          Now I use Goodreads to see if a book is available in English. On the computer version, when you click on the cover of a book, you can see the editions in different languages. Or I try Wikipedia.


    • May 14, 2017 at 3:49 pm

      There are a few : Cosmos, Pornografia, Diary, ferdydurke, and Bacacay,Trans-Atlantyk, Possessed: The Secret of Myslotch, A Kind of Testament, A Guide to Philosophy, Polish memories, and some plays.


      • May 14, 2017 at 9:24 pm

        Lots of Gombrowicz available in English!

        Liked by 1 person

      • May 15, 2017 at 1:10 pm

        Thanks, Guy, will be looking out for him. Just proves my complete ignorance!


        • May 15, 2017 at 3:56 pm

          Not at all. I went looking after Emma’s post.


  4. May 16, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    I certainly recognise the name. Not sure where from though. The stories do sound good; it’ll be interesting to see if anyone has any light to shed on the third.


    • May 16, 2017 at 9:27 pm

      I’d like to understand the third one better too. To be honest, this obsession for purity and virginity was weird and it made me a bit ill-at-ease.


  1. August 30, 2017 at 9:01 am

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