Outline (Fragment 1)
Scene 1: The Family
Scene 2: The Maturity Examinations
Scene 3: The Draft Board
Scene 4: Tsar Nicholas II
Kaiser Wilhelm II
Notes On Act I (Fragment 2)
MOTHER: (escape from life—fantasy—cannot stand herself) = REPULSION = Teacher of Aesthetics, Beauty = Russian Empress, (son) = Doctor who gives exemptions from the draft (matricide).
FATHER: (Normality, the community’s code of behavior. Practical Manager, bureaucrat, decorum) = Head of the Draft Board = Tsar Nicholas II.
JAMES: (Fascism, Artificial Man, fear, terror, weakness, realism) = Teacher, who despises Science = Doctor, who enforces conscription for the draft = Rasputin (crossed out) = General. [James is called “Janusz” in the original Polish, which would be most precisely translated into English as “Janus.”]
GEORGE: (escape, femininity, form, lightness, subjectivity) = Teacher, who neglects and trivializes = Doctor, uhlan, joy = Chamberlain.
IRENE: (mathematics, precision, virtue, faith, scrupulousness, masculinity) = Mathematics Teacher = Scrupulous Doctor, concerned with the welfare of the Army = Grand Duchess Anna.
RASPUTIN (Anna Vyrubova), SAVINKOV
The Family as priests
Inscription on Act I
I spend time with other boys of my age.
Discussions on the subject of my education. My family transforms into the Examination Committee, but ends up grotesque, because each tries to shape me in a different way. The Examination Committee changes into the Draft Board, but ends up a fiasco because of internal friction. [End Page 99]
I go to make an appeal to the Tsar (I threaten the Family and make an appeal as a last resort)
The Tsar’s court. The Tsar asks my advice. In an adjacent room an HISTORIC debate takes place—To MOBILIZE or not?
The Tsar looks for support.
Might it still be possible to come to an understanding with Wilhelm?
To liberate the ordinary man within him?
Is this absurdity avoidable?
TO BE A SIMPLE MAN.
A SOLDIER ON GUARD.
TSAR = SOLDIER (his EQUAL)
LONGING of the old man and the Tsar.
Stop being Tsar Nicholas!
DON’T BE A RUSSIAN
DON’T BE A TSAR
DON’T BE A FATHER OR A MAN
(Notes on the margin of this fragment.)
FEAR—in relation to the power of the mature
Act I (Fragment 3)
(The drawing room of the Gombrowicz family in Warsaw, June 28, 1914. Witold’s family—father, mother, his older brothers James and George, his sister Irene, “sit as if in an old photograph.”)
MOTHER: Wit, Witek, where are you darling?
IRENE: Where is Witold?
GEORGE: Can someone please tell me where Witold is?
JAMES: Where is that . . . ? Witold! Witold!
(Witold enters. He is sixteen years old and barefoot, like a stable-boy.)
MOTHER: I’m going to come down with something, I feel worse again. It’s my thyroid! Oh, it’s my Basedow’s!
FATHER: Why are you moaning so, Vickie? What are you moaning and groaning about?
MOTHER: No one has ever complained less than I have. No, I don’t like to complain! I don’t know how to complain, I don’t even like to talk! But the doctor said last time that my condition is worse again—but it doesn’t matter, it’s not important. . . . But, but Witek. . . . He must be doing this on purpose, to make me come down with something even more serious! Are you doing this on purpose? Don’t you understand that by carrying on in this way you can only get infected with the most horrible physical and moral diseases?
FATHER: But what happened?
MOTHER: He came back from school again in the company of that delinquent Joey, the son of our watchman!
(Father, George and James stand up.)
IRENE: With a friend! [End Page 100]
JAMES: With a friend!
IRENE: Excuse me. I don’t understand. It’s not clear to me. Logically speaking, why shouldn’t he be coming home from school with Joey, if both boys attend the same school and both come back from that school to the same home?
MOTHER: You don’t understand, my dearest Irene, that germs...