Aleksandra Tobiasz – Between Chronos and Kairos: Witold Gombrowicz’s Diarisitic Struggles with Time

Following Witold Gombrowicz’s existential map, extending from Central Europe via Latin America to Western Europe, I will try to trace the contours of his self-identification, volatile because shaped by different places and orders of time (cultural, historical and diaristic). In fear of an imposed role of witness of historical avalanche in Europe just before the Second World War, Gombrowicz decided to immerse in the Latin American “lightness of being.” Consequently, the writer became, as he noted in his “Diary,”“one of the many disinherited deprived of even a longing for the past that the pampa was receiving.” However, upon his return to Europe in 1963, Gombrowicz as the “ahistorical newcomer” found himself again in “a place that is more bespattered with history than ever.” (“Diary”). I argue that whereas exile in Argentina meant to him a spirally open, thus abundant in potentialities, hermeneutic laboratory of self, the return to Europe enclosed him again within a circle of historical absurd. Different places of time provoke divergent attitudes to life, represented by Hannah Arendt with two figures: a line (finite life, “bios”) and a circle (“zoe” and recurrent existence). These attitudes, as the Polish literary scholar Grzegorz Jankowicz argues, are also traceable in Gombrowicz’s double diaristic practice (public “Diary” and intimate “Kronos”) and correspond to two dimensions of time, linear and circular. On the one hand in the “Diary” the writer was escaping the roles imposed by the linear historical time with the aim of embracing some narrative form (“bios”) and on the other hand, in “Kronos” he was yielding to the calendar linearity in order to tame the chaotic existence (“zoe”). In the contribution I will attempt to answer the question about the dialogue between Gombrowicz’s two diaristic selves in relation to changeable places of his exile.

Aleksandra Tobiasz

Aleksandra Tobiasz graduated from history and Latin American studies at the University of Lodz, Poland (double Master). At the European University Institute in the Department of History and Civilisation in Florence she has conducted a multidisciplinary doctoral research on Central European literature analysed from anthropological perspective, thus in relation to individual historical experiences of accelerated pace of historical changes and shifting borders. In the doctoral thesis titled “Central European Literary ‘Escapes’ from History (Vladimir Bartol, Witold Gombrowicz, Sándor Márai),” she studies the writers’ narrative self-identifications shaped by changeable places of exile and through different reconfigurations of temporality (diaristic practice). So far she has published articles about Václav Havel, Egon Bondy, Ivan Diviš, Central European philosophy of history and literature. Interested in foreign cultures and languages she explores self-identifications of exiled writers in transregional and transcultural framework. Currently she lives in western Slovenia studying the Slovene borderland literature (Bartol’s oeuvre). 

Diesen Blogbeitrag zitieren
Academies Editorial Board (2022, 7. Mai). Aleksandra Tobiasz – Between Chronos and Kairos: Witold Gombrowicz’s Diarisitic Struggles with Time. TRANSREGIONAL ACADEMIES. Abgerufen am 22. Juni 2024, von

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