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Insatiability by Stanisław Ignacy…
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Insatiability (1930)

by Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz

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Insatiability, by Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz is a difficult book to explain. It fits within the strange and perverse literary universe, between Lautréamont's Songs of Maldoror and Alfred Jarry's Days & Nights. Complicated, perverse and at times unwieldy, I was mesmerized and overwhelmed, simultaneously. I vacillated between being unable to put the book down, to being incapable of reading another sentence; but I finished it.

Oddly, I encountered Witkiewicz, Witacy, when I was 16, but did not know it at the time. I used to skip classes while in high school and I would spend my days at the college library. I was wander through the stacks and read whatever seemed leaped out at me. One day it was a book of surrealist plays, once which was titled, The Water Hen. I read it, I did not understand it very well, but I always remembered it. The playwright's name did not stay with me however, (due to its difficult Polish name) and I went through life with this play and no author. Then I came across Insatiability and its author and realized the connection. Nothing, not ever that play, with its absurdist plot and its suicidal, nihilistic overtones, could prepare me for the madness of this novel.

Written in a language that is fantastic and punful, even in translation, with grotesque and unreal characters; it has a basic story plot: a coming of age story for the main character, Genezip Kapen, and his initiation into the sexual world of women. His initial sexual, romantic relationship (and involvement with a group of artistic sadists) eventually corrupts him and he loses his mind. Genezip, or Zip, runs off to join the military and then has a few more mind-loosening romances, which he ends up committing and participating in some unforeseeable acts. Zip occupies an unsettling world, where Europe is under threat of Communist China's takeover, and Poland is embroiled in war with China.

Overall, Insatiability is a difficult novel to write about, because it spans so many ideas that it would take another book to explain it all. It doesn't deal with the development of characters, rather, the characters- like Zip, are an unfolding of a reaction. What happens when a young, freedom seeker comes into contact with decadence, artistic ideas, unfettered sexuality, and war? It is as though Witkiewicz decided to conduct an experiment in a future world where values and intimacy and been replaced by lust and neurosis, and the novel became the document. Witkiewicz wrote Insatiability during the two world wars; the erosion of idealism and the political anxiety for the future are presented. Witkiewicz throws his combating constructs of art, politics, and individuality into the word mix which make up this novel. A painter, playwright, philosopher, he used his novels as a hulking receptacle where these raucous conceits run amok. ( )
5 vote lisa_emily | May 10, 2007 |
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» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewiczprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lesman, KarolTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lesman, KarolAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Scegliendo il mio destino
ho scelto la pazzia.
Tadeusz Miciński
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Genezyp Kapen non tollerava freni di nessun genere.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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