Gombrowicz, son of a wealthy lawyer, studied law at Warsaw University and philosophy and economics in Paris
His first novel, Ferdydurke, with its existential themes and a daring use of surrealistic techniques, became a literary sensation in Warsaw. Yvonne: Princess of Burgundia (1935), which anticipated many themes of the Theater of the Absurd, was also enormously successful; together with another of his plays, The Marriage (1953), it has been staged throughout the world. During the war, Gombrowicz lived in Argentina. In the postwar period, Ferdydurke was at first banned by the Polish authorities (continuing a ban imposed by the Nazis). During the thaw it was published in Warsaw in 1957 and its author was hailed as the greatest living Polish writer by the critic Sandauer. The ban on Gombrowicz's work was reimposed in 1958. By this time, however, Gombrowicz had achieved a wide reputation in western Europe and the United States.