Charles Bukowski

gigatos | June 6, 2022


Charles Bukowski (August 16, 1920, Andernach, Germany – March 9, 1994, Los Angeles, USA) was a German-born American writer, poet, novelist and journalist. He is a representative of the so-called “dirty realism”. He is the author of more than two hundred short stories included in sixteen anthologies, six novels, and more than thirty books of poetry.

Bukowski”s first literary experiments date back to the 1940s, but he began to write in earnest at a mature age from the mid-1950s. Thanks to his poems that appeared on the pages of small-circulation poetry magazines published mainly in California, Bukowski became a prominent figure of America”s literary underground. He achieved wider recognition in the late 1960s as the author of a column entitled Notes of a Dirty Old Man, published in the Los Angeles newspaper Open City. In those years Bukowski acquired a definitive image as a scandalous, philanderer and drunkard, which he created and propagated in his poetry and prose. Outside the United States the writer became known after the publication of the novel Post Office (1971), which enjoyed great popularity in Europe. All-American fame Bukowski won only in 1987, when the U.S. screens came out with the film Drunk. The film, based on a semi-autobiographical script by Bukowski, was directed by Barbet Schroeder.

Bukowski died in 1994, but to this day his previously unpublished works continue to appear. By 2011, two biographies of the writer had been published, and ten collections of his letters had been published. Bukowski”s life and work have been the subject of several documentaries, and his prose has been filmed several times.

Charles Bukowski (birth name Heinrich Karl Bukowski, named after his father) was born August 16, 1920, in the German town of Andernach. His mother, German Katharina Fett, was a seamstress; his father was a senior sergeant in the American army who served in Germany during World War I and had German roots. Charles”s parents married on July 15, 1920, shortly before the birth of their son; the effects of the economic crisis in 1923 forced them to move, and the family moved to the United States, in the city of Baltimore.

Katharina began to call herself “Kate” to make her name sound American, and her son changed from Henry to Henry. The pronunciation of the surname was also changed: “

Henry”s father was an advocate of harsh parenting methods and regularly beat both his son and his wife. A typical example of his relationship with his son was the sadistic game detailed in Bread and Ham, C. Bukowski”s autobiographical book about his early childhood. Every weekend the Bukowski”s conducted a general cleaning of the house, and on one Saturday Henry was also put to work: he was instructed to mow the front lawn so carefully that not a single stalk of grass would stick out above a set level. The father would then deliberately seek out an uncut blade of grass and beat his son with a razor belt as punishment, which was repeated every weekend for an extended period of time. Henry”s mother remained indifferent, which later caused her son to become totally indifferent to her. “My father liked to whip me with the razor belt. My mother supported him. A sad story,” Bukowski described his childhood decades later.

At the age of thirteen, Charles began to develop severe inflammation of the sebaceous glands – acne. Acne covered his entire face, arms, back, and even his mouth; Bukowski described his condition as a reaction to the horrors of his childhood, as did his biographer Howard Sones, and his literary researcher and editor, David Stephen Calonne. Faced with a difficult family situation and a difficult relationship with his classmates, Charles began to attend the Los Angeles Public Library where he took a serious interest in reading, which remained one of his main hobbies for the rest of his life. This is the time when the future writer tried his hand at writing: Charles wrote a short story about a pilot in World War I. “As I recall, in the beginning I wrote something about a German aviator with a hand of steel who had shot down a lot of Americans during World War I. I wrote with a pen, filling all the pages of a huge spiral notebook. I was thirteen at the time, and I was lying in bed with the worst boils-the doctors couldn”t remember anything like that.

One of Charles”s few buddies introduced him to alcohol. “I loved being drunk. I realized I was going to love drinking forever. It distracted me from reality,” Charles”s passion for alcohol would later lead to a long binge, but it would forever remain his favorite hobby and the main theme of his work. This was also the last major breakdown in Charles”s relationship with his father, ending the former”s constant beatings. Glenn Esterly, a journalist for Rolling Stone, described it this way:

– excerpt from a 1976 interview with C. Bukowski.

After high school, Bukowski briefly attended City College of Los Angeles, studying English and journalism, and continued to write short stories. In 1940, his father discovered the manuscripts hidden in his son”s room and, angered by their contents, threw them away along with all Charles” belongings.

It started with something I wrote when I was young, and I hid it in my dresser drawer. My father found it and that”s when it all started. “No one would ever want to read shit like that!” And he wasn”t far from the truth.

After the incident, Bukowski left his parents” home, moved and began to spend most of his free time in drinking establishments and was soon expelled from college. In 1941, after working for about six months in various low-paying jobs, Charles decided to travel across America to be able to write about “real life” – as one of Bukowski”s favorite authors, John Fante, wrote.

Charles traveled the country at length, visiting New Orleans, Atlanta, Texas, San Francisco, and many other cities. Descriptions of his many moves and places of work, which Charles had to change frequently, later formed the basis of the novel Factotum. At the same time, Bukowski made his first attempt to publish his works. Strongly impressed by the story “A Brave Young Man on a Flying Trapeze” (1934) by William Saroyan, Bukowski sent the story “Aftermath of a Lengthy Rejection Slip” to Story magazine, whose editor was responsible for the publication of Saroyan”s work. The material was accepted and Charles received a letter from the editors, which stated that the story would be printed in the March 1944 issue – the aspiring author was very excited and delighted at this event, painting a happy beginning to his writing career. Bukowski traveled to New York to see it for himself, but was very disappointed, since the story was published on the last pages of the magazine, not included in the main part of the publication. The event had such a profound effect on the author that he gave up writing for a long time, finally becoming disillusioned with the latter. It was only two years later that Bukowski”s next work was published: the short story 20 Tanks From Kasseldown was published in Portfolio. It was followed by several poems in Philadelphia”s Matrix magazine, but readers were reluctant to accept the young author. “I gave up writing for ten years – just drinking, living and moving around, and cohabiting with bad women. <…> I collected material, though not consciously. I forgot about writing at all,” Bukowski, having failed in the literary world, returned to Los Angeles to live with his parents. “It started around 1945. I gave up. Not because I thought I was a bad writer. I just thought there was no way I could break through. I put writing aside with disgust. Drinking and cohabitation with women became my art.

At the age of twenty-seven, in a city bar, Charles met Jane Cooney Baker, a thirty-eight-year-old alcoholic whom he married. Baker later became one of the most important people who inspired Bukowski”s work (The Day Run Away Like Horses Over the Hills will be dedicated to her memory, she also appears under various pseudonyms in the novels Post Office and Factotum) and the greatest love of the writer”s life. He said of her thus: “She was the first woman–the first person at all–who brought me even a little love.”

In 1952 Bukowski took a job as a letter carrier with the U.S. Postal Service, at Terminal Annex, where he worked for more than a decade, and his constant drinking put him in the hospital two years later with heavy bleeding. “I almost died. I ended up in the county hospital – my mouth and ass were bleeding. I should have died – and I didn”t. It took a lot of glucose and ten to twelve pints of blood,” after leaving the hospital, Bukowski returned to his work, but he never gave up drinking. He divorced Baker in 1955 and married again the same year, this time to Barbara Frye, editor of the small Texas magazine Harlequin. “She was beautiful – that”s all I remember. She was hovering around for a while, but it never worked out. She couldn”t get drunk, and I couldn”t get sober, “and they couldn”t get along.” Finally she went back to Texas, and I never saw or heard from her again. The couple separated in 1958.

Bukowski, while continuing to work at the post office, began to work on his art. His work was published in small magazines such as Nomad, Coastlines, Quicksilver, and Epos, and he met John Edgar and Gypsy Webb, founders of the New Orleans publisher Loujon Press, which would become the first to publish Bukowski”s books, the poetry collections It Catches my Heart in Its Hands (1963) and Crucifix in a Death Hand (1965). At the same time, the Webb couple began to publish The Outsider magazine, whose publications by the mid-1960s brought Bukowski his first fame and recognition as a poet. In this period also belongs a new love affair of the budding poet – in 1963, Charles met Frances Smith, by whom, a year later, he had a daughter, Marina-Louise (Bukowski divorced from Smith in 1965.

In 1967, Bukowski accepted John Bryon”s offer to write a column for Open City, which strengthened his popularity in California. While working for Open City, Bukowski was not burdened by any specific themes or censorship – he wrote openly and honestly about his life without embellishing anything. The author”s frankness allowed him to gain popularity with his readers, many of whom came to Bukowski in person to get to know him. Two collections of short stories, Notes of a Dirty Old Man (1969) and More Notes of a Dirty Old Man (2011), would later be published on the basis of the author”s columns.

At the same time, about ten more small books of Bukowski”s poems are published by different publishers; this period also includes the most important event, in terms of the poet”s further life, when he met John Martin. He was fascinated by the poet”s work, Martin decided to become his main publisher and set up Black Sparrow Press, planning to start publishing Bukowski”s poems.

In 1970, Martin made a business proposal to the fifty-year-old Bukowski, persuading him to leave the postal service and devote himself entirely to creativity, guaranteeing a lifetime monthly income of $100. Charles, without thinking twice, accepted the terms. Bukowski told the story this way:

It is noteworthy that “Notes of the Old Goat” served as one of the reasons for the close attention of the management of the post office (where Bukowski worked at the time) to the author – and led to a certain kind of difficulties. As Howard Sones notes, Bukowski”s dismissal a few years later was provoked not by Martin”s suggestion but by systematic absenteeism, of which the future writer was duly notified several times, but he ignored all warnings (a reference to which is found in the final chapters of The Post Office). Sones also notes that Bukowski did not tell Martin of this state of affairs when he accepted his offer.

Bukowski”s first major work after leaving the post office was the novel Post Office (1971, translated in 2007), which he wrote in three weeks. This novel was Bukowski”s first great success as a writer, and the book became very popular in Europe and was subsequently translated into more than fifteen languages. Among other things, during the work on The Post Office, Bukowski will finally develop his authorial style of writing, which he will later adhere to in all his prose works. As Howard Sones notes, Bukowski learned to write in a frank, honest manner, using a lot of dialogue, because he was familiar with the work of Ernest Hemingway and John Fante; it was from the latter that Bukowski adopted the idea of breaking up the narrative text into very small parts. The writer”s first novel received mainly positive reviews in the press; critics noted the humor of the work and the detailed description of the postmaster”s routine. After the publication of The Post Office, Black Sparrow Press became the main publisher of Bukowski: “He had the reputation of the most influential rebel poet, and from that moment the books poured out of him in a torrent, starting with a novel about the nightmare of bureaucracy, The Post Office, which Bukowski wrote in just twenty nights in the company of twenty bottles of whiskey.

Continuing, however, to be faithful to small book companies, Charles concurrently continued to send out some poems and stories to small literary journals. Three collections of poetry and two books of short stories went to print. The first was Erections, Ejaculations, Exhibitions and General Tales of Ordinary Madness (1972), which would later be divided by the publisher into two books, Tales of Ordinary Madness (1983) and The Most Beautiful Woman in Town (1983). The 1972 edition of the book was well received by readers and became very popular in the San Francisco Bay Area. The second book, South of No North (1973), is noteworthy because the author has largely moved away from autobiographical sketches, which he claims consisted mainly of fictional stories.

The next novel, Factotum (1975, translated in 2000), was a reflection of the years in which Bukowski drank heavily and changed jobs more often than gloves. In an interview with The London Magazine, Bukowski said that he had begun to write Factotum after reading George Orwell”s autobiographical novel Pounds for Puts in Paris and London, about his wanderings in the European capitals. Bukowski exclaimed: “This guy thinks he”s seen something? Yes, compared to me, he”s only scratched the surface.” “Factotum”, like Bukowski”s first novel, was favorably received by critics – the author was praised for its realistic descriptions of life of the “lower class”, the irony of the work, among the merits noted directness and sincerity Bukowski. This is also the time of Charles”s first long-term love affair with the American poetess and sculptor Linda King after his divorce (the couple were together from 1970 to 1973. Bukowski”s book Me and Your Sometimes Love Poems (1972) is dedicated to his relationship with King.

Since Factotum, four more collections of poetry have been published, and in 1978 a novel, Women (1978, Russian translation 2001), the main theme of which was Bukowski”s many love affairs. His reading of Giovanni Boccaccio”s Decameron induced him to write the book; Bukowski said that one of the ideas of the work, “sex is so ridiculous that no one can deal with it”, had a particularly strong influence on his Women. The writer described the forthcoming novel in this way:

The book turned out to sell more than all Bukowski”s works published before it, but it was repeatedly criticized for sexism. The author himself, however, denied such claims, saying: “This image wanders from mouth to mouth among those who have not read all the pages. It”s more like a word of mouth, gossip. A couple of years before the novel was published, Bukowski met Linda Lee Beighle, the owner of a small diner, at one of his poetry readings – the author had his last marriage with Beighle in 1985.

After Women, four more books of poetry were published, and in 1982 the novel Ham on Rye (1982, translated in 2000), in which Charles concentrated on his childhood. Bukowski himself called the book a “horror novel” and noted that it was the hardest to write – because of the high “seriousness” of the text, the author, according to his own statement, tried to make it funnier in order to hide all the horrors of his childhood.

Three collections of short stories and several books of poetry followed; among the first was Hot Water Music (1983, translated in 2011), the main themes of which would be Bukowski”s usual subjects: “It has everything for which we love old Henry Chinaski: irony, drive, sex, alcoholism and a pang of tenderness”. Another opinion was held by his first biographer, Neely Cherkowski, who said that Hot Water Music was a very unusual book for Bukowski – demonstrating a new, freer style of writing. Bukowski himself said, “These stories are very different from those published before. They are cleaner, closer to the truth. I try to make the text came out transparent. And it seems to me that it works.

His next book would be Hollywood (1989, translated in 1994), in which Bukowski described his work on the screenplay for the film Drunk and the process of filmmaking. The novel repeatedly mentions under fictitious names the people involved in the production of the picture – Jack Bledsoe (Mickey Rourke), Francine Bowers (Faye Dunaway), John Pinchot (Barbet Schroeder), and a few others. Bukowski himself was very positive about his book: “Hollywood is four hundred times worse than anything written about it. Of course, if I finish it, I”ll probably be sued, even though it”s all true. Then I could write a novel about the judicial system.

The last years of his life were marked by the publication of three more collections of poetry; the novel Pulp (Pulp, 1994, translated into English in 1996) was completed shortly before his death, but it was published after his death. Sones noted that Bukowski had finally exhausted all the plots from his own life – and embarked on a new genre for himself, the detective, excluding elements of autobiographical character. At the same time, however, the work features several persons written off by Bukowski from his friends – John Martin (who appears in the novel as “John Barton”), Sholom Stodolsky (a close friend of the author, in the book appears under the pseudonym “Red”), and the publishing house Black Sparrow Press, reflected in the text of “Waste Paper” as “Red Sparrow”. In addition, the book contains a host of ironic remarks and jokes about Bukowski”s familiar character, Henry Chinaski; the novel”s narrative is closely intertwined with many of the author”s previously published works, for the most part in terms of self-irony. “Waste paper” was in a sense a creative experiment for Bukowski; he put it this way:

The writer had been seriously ill since 1988. In 1993 Bukowski ceased remission and was transferred to a hospital, where he remained for some time until the doctors agreed that he would feel most comfortable at home in San Pedro. The writer was rapidly weakening and could no longer write a line – he knew he would soon die. Throughout his career Bukowski was certain that death would come at the moment when he could no longer create; four years before his death he said, “If I stop writing, then I am dead. If I die, then I”ll stop.” His immune system was nearly destroyed; Bukowski was first diagnosed with pneumonia, transferred back to the hospital for treatment, where the writer was diagnosed with leukemia. At 11:55 a.m. on March 9, 1994, at the age of 73, Charles Bukowski died.

The writer was buried in Rancho Palos Verdes in Green Hills Memorial Park, not far from the house where he spent the last years of his life. The tombstone has “DON”T TRY” engraved as an epitaph and depicts a boxer in a fighting position.

Charles Bukowski was married three times. He married for the first time at the age of twenty-seven in 1947 to Jane Cooney Baker. Baker was ten years older than her husband, and by the time they met she was suffering from alcoholism, which brought her closer to Bukowski. The couple had many scandals and separated several times; they divorced eight years later. In the same year (1955) the writer married for the second time Barbara Fry, the editor of a small literary magazine. With Bukowski, they met through letters: Frye enthusiastically accepted the work of the poet and wanted to see him, after which they immediately began a romantic relationship.

The marriage with Frye lasted until 1958. Five years later, Bukowski briefly dated Frances Smith, an admirer of his work, with whom he corresponded for a long time until they finally met in 1963. Smith would give birth to a daughter, Marina-Louise Bukowski; they would soon separate, however, never legally married. “Soon afterwards I received a letter from Faye [Frances Smith appears by that name in the novel Post Office]. She and the baby were now living in a hippie commune in New Mexico. Nice place, she wrote. At least Marina could breathe here. In the letter she enclosed a little drawing that the girl drew for me,” Bukowski described their parting.

The writer would meet his last wife, Linda Lee Begley, while writing her novel, Women, by chance when she stopped by a diner owned by Begley. (According to the source, this was in 1976 at a reading at a place called The Troubadour.) Their romance lasted about seven years before marriage (they were married in 1985. A Village View reporter described Begley this way: “In her maiden years, Linda Begley left home and started a health food restaurant, the kind that dotted all over L.A. in the 1970s. Although Linda closed her Redondo Beach establishment in 1978, two months before “Hank” proposed, she says she still gives her husband nutritional advice. She was able to persuade him to give up red meat and substantially limit his liquid diet to wine and beer.

The writer considered politics pointless and never voted. He put it this way: “Politics is like women: get carried away with it seriously, and in the end you are a kind of earthworm crushed by a docker”s shoe.” He was of the same opinion about the American Left of today: “They are all fattened fools from the Westwood Village, doing nothing but chanting slogans. The whole radical underground is a newspaper racket, a lot of chatter, and anyone who dives in quickly falls back to whatever is more profitable.

In addition to alcohol, to which Bukowski was addicted throughout his life, two other passions of the writer were classical music and horse racing.

Classical music for Charles Bukowski has always been an integral part of the creative process. “I love classical music. It”s there, but it”s not there. It doesn”t absorb the work, but it”s present in it.” According to the writer, one of the reasons he loved music so much was that it helped him survive; speaking of the time described in Factotum, Bukowski recalled, “It was good to come home from the factories at night, undress, climb into bed in the dark, pour a beer and listen.” The writer”s favorite composer was Jan Sibelius, whom Bukowski appreciated for his “passion that blows your headlights out.

Regarding horse racing, mostly at the beginning of his writing career, Bukowski said that going to the racetrack for him was purely a matter of financial interest; he thought it might allow him to win so much “that he no longer had to work in slaughterhouses, post offices, docks, and factories. Subsequently, the hobby was an attempt to replace drinking, but it did not work. The attitude to the game later underwent a change, and a few years later Bukowski already said that horse racing for him was a stimulus for writing:

One day you come home from a race… it”s usually better to lose a hundred dollars <…> Losing a hundred dollars on a race is a great help to art.

For Bukowski, racing was a test – he said that horses taught him whether a man had strength of character; he called playing races “torture,” but he always stressed that they were a source of material. “If I go to the races and get a good shake-up there, I”ll come back later and be able to write. That”s the stimulus,” Bukowski had separate emotions not only from the game, but also from the racetracks themselves; the writer said that looking into the faces, especially of the losers, you begin to see a lot of things in a different light.

Throughout his life, C. Bukowski read a lot, but quickly became disillusioned with existing writers and poets, which was partly the reason for the beginning of his own work. Despite the fact that Bukowski almost always had an extremely negative attitude toward poets, he singled out and admired a number of authors from the general mass. The greatest of his contemporaries Bukowski called Ezra Pound, T. S. Elliot; of writing contemporaries – Larry Eigner, Gerald Locklin and Ronald Curtsey. Early in his career he held J.G. Lawrence and Thomas Wolfe up as role models, although Bukowski was later disappointed in the latter, calling them “boring”. The writer also spoke highly of the early David Salinger, Stephen Spender, Archibald MacLeish – but said that he admired them at first, and then bored them. Bukowski considered Ernest Hemingway and Sherwood Anderson to be writers who quickly deteriorated but “got off to a good start. Bukowski considered the works of Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and early Céline to be classics.The writers who most strongly influenced his work were Céline, John Fante, and William Saroyan.

In articles devoted to Bukowski and his work, the writer is often mistakenly considered a Beatnik. Despite the fact that even some of the poet”s contemporaries regarded him as a representative of the Beat generation, later researchers of this group of poets point out that Bukowski, in fact, never belonged to them. Bukowski himself held a similar view – during an interview in 1978 he said: “I am a loner, I do my own thing. It”s no use. All the time they ask me about Kerouac, and whether I do not know Neal Cassady, whether I was not with Ginsberg, and so on. And I have to confess: no, I drank all the beatniks; I didn”t write anything then.

David Stephen Calonne described Bukowski this way:

Ideologies, slogans, and sanctimony were his enemies, and he refused to belong to any group, be they beatniks, “confessors,” “Black Mountain,” Democrats, Republicans, capitalists, Communists, hippies, punks. Bukowski chronicled his deepest psychological and spiritual suffering in his own inimitable style.

Bukowski repeatedly admitted that he wrote, for the most part, while intoxicated. He said: “I write sober, drunk, when I feel good and when I feel bad. I have no special poetic state.” In the process of writing, among other things, Bukowski almost never edited or corrected, only occasionally crossing out lines that were bad, but adding nothing. The process of proofreading was typical exclusively for poetry, while the author wrote prose in one sitting without changing what he had written. Bukowski said about the process of creating a work that he never thinks up anything on purpose, he saw himself as a photographer describing what he sees and what happens to him.

Main topics

The vast majority of C. Bukowski”s works are autobiographical. Bukowski is an autobiographical work. In poetry and, especially, in prose, the most frequent figure is the writer”s alter ego, his lyrical anti-hero, Henry Chinaski. The writer was evasive about whether he could be equated with Chinaski: “They know it”s Bukowski, but if you give them Chinaski, they might say, ”Oh, he”s so cool! He calls himself Chinaski, but we know it”s Bukowski.” That”s where I kind of pat them on the back. They love that. And Bukowski himself would be too righteous anyway; you know, in the sense of “I did it all. <…> And if that”s what Chinaski does, then maybe I didn”t do it, you know, maybe it”s fiction.” Ninety-nine out of a hundred works, Bukowski said, are autobiographical. In response to a journalist”s question about where Henry Chinaski ends and Charles Bukowski begins, the writer replied that they are pretty much the same thing, except for the little vignettes he decorated his character with out of boredom. However, Bukowski did not deny that in almost all of his works there is a small amount of fiction.

I scrub where I need to scrub, and I throw away what I don”t know. Pure selectivity. In general, everything I write is mostly fact, but it”s also embellished with fiction, twisting back and forth to separate one from the other. <…> Nine-tenths of the facts are one-tenth of the fiction, to put everything in its place.

David Stephen Calonne, researcher of Bukowski”s work and editor of several of his books, notes that throughout his life the main objects of his writing were classical music, loneliness, alcoholism, authors he admired, scenes from his childhood, writing, inspiration, madness, women, sex, love and horse racing. The writer himself, in an interview answering a question about the central theme of his prose, said, “Life – with a small ”g.”” Bukowski denied that he writes obscenity, the writer believed that many of his works would be more correctly called revealing the unsightly side of life, the one in which he himself lived. “I lived with alcoholic women; I lived almost without money; not a life, but sheer madness. I have to write about it.” The writer noted that he drew inspiration from people nailed down by life – and it was in them that he saw his main readership.

Poetry and prose

In the United States and in Europe, where Bukowski is most popular, he is mostly perceived as a poet. The author himself said that he came to this form for a trivial reason – for him poetry was a lesser waste of time (compared with stories or novels). Bukowski said that he began to write not because he was very good, but because all the others, in his opinion, were bad: “I made it easy for others. I taught them that you can write poetry the same way you write a letter, that a poem can even entertain and the sacred in it is not necessary.” The author made virtually no distinction between prose and poetry in his works – for him it was purely about the line. Bukowski said that if his writing were laid out in one single line, it would sound pretty much the same; he attached little importance to form; for the author, the line separating prose and poetry was always only a matter of convenience. The only significant factor for the author was his current state: he said he could only write prose when he was feeling good and poetry when he was feeling bad.

The basic tenet of Bukowski”s work was simplicity. The writer said: “That”s how I try: simpler, without… the simpler, the better. Poetry. Too much poetry about the stars and the moon, when it is out of place – it”s just bad nonsense. Bukowski began to write from the fact that modern poetry depressed him – he found it a fake and trickery, so for himself he chose the clearest way to express his thoughts, without embellishment and unnecessary poetics. Literary critics refer Bukowski”s work to the direction of “dirty realism”, the distinguishing features of which are the maximum economy of words, minimalism in descriptions, a large number of dialogues, the absence of reasoning, content-driven meaning and particularly unremarkable characters.

The book also sometimes refers to Bukowski”s work as part of the “Meat School”. (The poetry of this school is characterized by aggressive, “masculine” poetry. The representatives of this direction are characterized by aggressive, “masculine” poetry.


The first major prose of Bukowski in Russia began to be published by thick magazines. In late 1994 – early 1995, the novel “Hollywood”, translated by Nina Tsyrkun, was published in Art of Cinema, and in 1996, “Foreign Literature” introduced Russian readers with the novel “Waste paper”, translated by Victor Golyshev. In 1999-2001 these works were published as separate books, and the rest of Bukowski”s novels were also published in Russian.

Collected stories

The first publication of Bukowski”s short prose in Russian took place in 1992 in the American-Russian almanac “Sagittarius”. For this publication, the writer and translator Sergei Yurienen prepared a small selection of Bukowski”s texts, which opened with the story “Bring Me Your Love. In the introduction, he noted that “Russian is the thirteenth language into which Bukowski is translated. His stories have subsequently appeared in several other Russian periodicals, the most important of which was a selection published in 1995 in the journal Inostranennaya Literatury. It was made up of translations by Viktor Golyshev, Vasiliy Golyshev and Viktor Kogan. Since 1997, collections of Bukowski”s short prose began to appear in Russia as separate editions.


Bukowski”s poetry began to be published in Russia only in the 2000s. Until then, his poems in Russian translations could be found almost exclusively on the Internet. In the opinion of the translator Svetlana Silakova, this situation was organic to the “network” poetics of Bukowski, which is characterized by “stinginess of means, brevity, a kind of defiant simplicity”. In 2000 several of Bukowski”s poems were published by the journal Foreign Literature. In the introductory article, the translator Kirill Medvedev lamented that Bukowski the poet is unknown to the Russian reader, although in the West he “is hardly inferior in popularity to Bukowski the novelist”. A year later, the same Medvedev compiled and translated a volume of Bukowski”s selected poems, The Barfing Lady. Later two more poetry books by the American author were published in Russia.

Screenplays of books and short stories

Audio recordings


  1. Буковски, Чарльз
  2. Charles Bukowski
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