What makes a mystery a mystery?
A set of clues to be pieced together? A match of wits between a villain and a clever investigator? A seedy underworld navigated by a hard-boiled detective?
Broad and varying definitions help us conclude that, yes, Witold Gombrowicz's Cosmos, recently translated into English by Danuta Borchardt, is a mystery. There are clues. Maybe. Coincidences? Yes. But it is the narrator and his companion who make the leap from coincidences to clues, as they themselves become the driving force in what may be a mystery only in their imagination. The coincidences, the plot elements, the clues, all look like they should add up to something. But it is hard to say whether or not they actually do.
Gombrowicz's exploration of meaning and meaninglessness takes us far away from Dupin, Holmes, Marple and their many descendents. Nevertheless, the well-drawn characters and the strangeness of the novel make it worthwhile. An older translation of the book can be found here. More information on Grombrowicz can be found at the Literature Resource Center.