Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski

American poet and novelist, often mistakenly classified as a Beatnik
Date of Birth: 16.08.1920
Country: USA

Biography of Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski, an American poet and novelist often mistakenly associated with the Beat Generation, was a genius. He drank more than necessary, had more mistresses than was considered proper, worked in unprestigious jobs, and lived in a non-conventional manner. He never wrote about things that were pleasant to read, his texts were filled with bitterness. He was a blue-collar worker, a drunkard, and one of the most intelligent writers of the second half of the 20th century.

Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski (real name Heinrich Karl Bukowski) was born on August 16, 1920, in Andernach, Germany. His mother was a seamstress, and his father served in the American army. In 1923, due to the economic crisis, the family was forced to move to the United States, first to Baltimore and then to Los Angeles. Charles took the name for himself later, after leaving his parents' home.

Charles Bukowski

His father raised him in a strict manner, as detailed in his autobiographical novel "Ham on Rye." For the slightest offense, he would beat Bukowski with a razor strop. His mother could do nothing to stop it, as she was often subjected to his violence as well. As a result of the total fear that permeated Bukowski's life, he developed a severe case of acne at the age of 13. His entire body was covered in pimples, which caused him psychological discomfort. Family and school problems led Bukowski to isolate himself from the world. His favorite pastime became visiting the library, where he became deeply interested in American authors. His favorite writers were John Fante, William Saroyan, and Ernest Hemingway.

Charles Bukowski

During his teenage years, one of his friends introduced Bukowski to alcohol, which became a faithful companion in his life for many years. As Bukowski later wrote, he enjoyed getting drunk because it distracted him from reality. When he was 16, he came home drunk and his father decided to teach him a lesson. Bukowski resisted and punched his father in the jaw. His father never touched him again.

Charles Bukowski

After finishing high school, Bukowski attended college in Los Angeles for a short time. It was during this time that he started writing his first stories and poems. Disillusioned with his studies, Bukowski dropped out of college and left his parents' home. For six months, he worked various low-paying jobs and spent his free time in bars. In 1941, Bukowski decided to embark on a journey across America and write about the "real life."

To truly understand who Charles Bukowski was, one only needs to read any of his stories or novels. In one of his interviews, he described himself as follows: "I am an unpleasant person - everyone knows that. I admire bastards, sons of bitches, and crooks. I don't like clean-shaven boys with decent jobs. I am attracted to desperate people with wild minds, broken teeth, and shattered lives. I also get along well with wanderers because I am one too. I hate rules, morals, laws, and religion. And I won't let society mold me."

Bukowski was a rebel who loved freedom, alcohol, and writing. Legends surround his life, filled with heavy drinking, promiscuous women, and constant fights. In essence, he was homeless for a long time, as he had no permanent residence or steady job. It wasn't until he reached his 50s that he began to exhibit the traits of a civilized person. For a long time, Charles Bukowski published his stories and poems in the newspaper "Open City," earning a meager income. His life changed when he met John Martin, who was so impressed with Bukowski's poetry that he organized the publishing company "Black Sparrow Press." Martin offered Bukowski the opportunity to quit his job at the post office and fully devote himself to writing. The publishing company promised to pay him $100 a month for the rest of his life, regardless of whether he wrote anything. Charles agreed.

In 1971, his first novel "Post Office" was published, which gained incredible popularity in the United States and Europe. Critics praised it for its honest, open, and humorous style. They also noted its attention to detail and suggested that Bukowski had been influenced by Fante and Hemingway. In 1975, his novel "Factotum" was published, followed by "Women" in 1978. Both books were well-received by the public and solidified Bukowski's status as a cult writer. He also released collections of poems and stories, which gained equal popularity. Bukowski himself was skeptical of his fame and even hated it. When the renowned philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre called him the greatest poet in America, Bukowski replied, "To say that I am a poet is to associate me with a bunch of neon connoisseurs, scoundrels, and idiots who masquerade as wise men."

Despite several hospitalizations for severe internal bleeding, Bukowski was never able to overcome his alcohol addiction. Towards the end of his life, he drank less. In 1982, his novel "Ham on Rye" was published, in which Bukowski described his childhood. In his book "Hollywood" (1989), he talked about his experience working as a screenwriter for the film "Barfly." The film focuses on Bukowski's early years and his development as a writer. When asked about the filming of "Barfly," Bukowski said, "Hollywood is worse than you could ever imagine, four hundred times worse. I'm just sure that after the book comes out, I will be sued."

Charles Bukowski was also known for his numerous love affairs. He had many women in his life, three of whom became his legal wives. His last wife, Linda Lee Beighle, stayed by his side until his final days.

From the late 1980s, Bukowski suffered from various health issues. His immune system was destroyed, making him susceptible to multiple illnesses. He was diagnosed with pneumonia and later with leukemia. On March 9, 1994, Charles Bukowski passed away. His epitaph reads, "Don't try."

Charles Bukowski burst into literature with a loud, revolutionary, and rebellious voice, although he never took writing seriously. He always claimed that he just had to write and then leave. The controversy, cynicism, and disdain he had for his surroundings and himself were irritants to the crowd: some praised him while others hated him, but Bukowski didn't care. He chose freedom and worshiped only that.