In 1939, the thirty-five-year old Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz sailed for Buenos Aires on what was supposed to have been a brief tour of the Argentine. A month later Germany invaded Poland, and Gombrowicz was unable to return to Europe for twenty-four years. Gombrowicz continued to write exclusively in Polish, which may be part of the reason that his monumental importance in twentieth-century literature is often overlooked. Milan Kundera places him beside Joyce and Kafka and Thomas Mann, the French existentialists considered him a foundational writer, and he was a candidate for the Nobel Prize in 1968. Today, however, he is known—when and where he is known at all—as the author of Ferdydurke, a bizarre, Rabelaisian rant of a book that made him a literary celebrity before the war.