Themes and Meanings

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

Pornografia, despite its title, is not a pornographic novel; it does not provide graphic scenes of sexual activity or dwell on the physical aspects of love. It is, however, an erotic novel which suggests that the basis of human behavior is not intellectual or religious but sensual and secretive. People hide as much or more than they reveal. By and large, people are motivated by impulses they try to mask with a veneer of reason and cultivation. Frederick is an exception because he lives his life according to the feelings most people suppress and fail to act upon. He realizes that most people do not grow up, even though this is the professed goal of most human beings. In his preface to Pornografia (included in the Grove Press paperback edition) Witold Gombrowicz notes that if one of man’s goals is “fulfillment” and “total seems to me that another of man’s aims appears, a more secret one, undoubtedly, one which is in some way illegal: his need for the unfinished...for imperfection...for inferiority...for youth....” Youth, however, is not idealized in Pornografia. It is, rather, a state of being which Frederick and Witold secretly wish to enjoy, for they find the demands of adulthood trying and pretentious. They lack any sort of belief in the church, the home, or the family. They are not patriots and show little concern with the Home Army organized by Poles to fight the German invaders.

This theme of a...

(The entire section is 416 words.)