the influencers

F

frankD

since having read bukowski since HS in the mid 70's, i have collected many of his books, however only recently have i paid any attention to his indicated influences, such as hamsun celine dostoyevsky fante jeffers hemingway et al

well in the past month i have started on dostoyevsky, fante and jeffers

i see many similarities from jeffers but not so much from dostoyevsky nor fante

i will continue throught to hamsun and celine

i know hemingway and as with fante, bukowski may have admired them, but i dont see any similarities in the writing

HAS anyone else here made this/these comparision ? ? And if so, what where your findings ? ?

frankD
 

nervas

more crickets than friends
I've read Dostoevsky, Fante, and Celine. I don't really find any of them really similar to each other, or Bukowski. With Dos..and Celine, I've read the english versions translated from the originals, so I'm always thinking maybe I'm missing something. I read Journey and Death On... from Celine and those continue to be two of my favorite books. I've read all Fante books still in publication and enjoy reading Fante over most writers other than Buk. I think these authors straight forward, uncensored way of writing is what inspired Buk, or that straight forward uncensored way of writing is part of what he admired. But Buk certainly never copied them and I think that's why I really never felt there was too much of a similarity between Buk and anyone else.

Funny you say you find some similarities between Buk and Jeffer's. He's the only one I have not read, so maybe I'll pick up a book from him soon and check it out.
 
Speaking just for myself, I wouldn't look for too direct a correlation. I've found that great writers don't remind me of anyone else, though they were of course influenced by their literary heroes. We all have them. But the influence becomes submerged when the writer has found his or her own voice. Nevertheless, I can see a decided influence on Bukowski of the writers you mentioned... These are broad generalities, but to me Jeffers, Hemingway, and Dostoyevsky have a decidedly rugged, masculine style. Writing on war, women, risk, gambling, self-challenge, etc., was direct and stripped down to the bone... From Fante Buk admired his sensitivity and genius for expressing direct emotions through the clean, simple line - hugely evident... Hamsun and Celine are realists. Hamsun wrote one of the greatest novels of all time on poverty (Hunger) - something Bukowski certainly knew about first hand as a kindred soul; and Celine's cynicism and razor-sharp observations about the pitiful state of humanity seem to have also left an indelible mark. Still, Bukowski's genius is that the reader is reminded of none of these others when reading him, at least for me; it's too distracting to be reminded of one writer when reading another. I can't do it, because it's confusing to the mind and there's little joy in reading someone who's imitative and derivative. That's why when one finds a writer who is essentially true to himself, if not to the literal facts of his life, it's worthwhile delving into everything they wrote to get a better view of the man. They have the ability to inwardly trigger the reader.
 
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LickTheStar

Sad Flower in the Sand
I find Fante to be similar in the economy of words (and of chapters). Not to much in tone, but often at times in a great series of short, simple sentences. Plus, they both have a strong... affection for LA. Though Fante has less derision for the general populace. Sometimes.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
In addition to the clean, simple lines, Fante's humor may have influenced Bukowski. And his outsider characters.

Reading Carson McCullers, I found that I was often reminded of Bukowski's style. He mentioned admiring her work several times.
 
F

frankD

oh yes, i forgot to include dos passo on the "stream of consciousness" in the short story where a scene can change from one paragraph to another with no opening reference to the change i see similarities

with jeffers i noted the punch line as it were would be lurking in the final part of the poem in the last line or the last few lines and the rest of the text was merely to set up and embelish the punch

BTW i have no intention of dysecting or getting too intelectual into this - i was just curious as to the observations of others who have made this comparison

typically i didnt care what influenced bukowski writtings since i enjoyed the perspective and subject matter of the short stories and poems no matter the source of the style of delivery

kinda like enjoying shakespeare and then subsequently stumbling across the matter of who really was he but not caring and then eventually looking to others for their opinions on who he was - not that it would matter because by then you either like the work or not but curious just the same
 
Not to be captain obvious here, but the fact that Fante wrote about being an author is just a little bit similar to Buk, no?

I think that Dos and Fante (the only two on the list which I have read enough of to comment about) also included clearly flawed yet sympathetic main characters in their work.
 

Ambreen

Sordide Sentimental
Hamsun wrote one of the greatest novels of all time on poverty (Hunger) - something Bukowski certainly knew about first hand as a kindred soul
I personally didn't understand it as a novel about poverty, the protagonist having a very ambiguous relation with hunger, provoking it as often as fleeing it. In many regards, Hunger rather appeared to me as mainly depicting the dereliction of the Artist.
 
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F

frankD

i also find and i think many here will agree bukowski had a way to make his visual observations relevant to a point he was making with his words on the bigger picture and it seems this is the magic as he might say

many others, gamblers golfers gansters average drunks etc have had lives of madness, death, luck, no luck, insane women etc which if given the proper literary treatment would be quite interesting and entertaining - but without legs as an overarching message about the bigger picture of humanity which takes a great focused lens of observation to bring into meaningful discussion and reasoning (this is what i would say made bukowski special - his power of observation and the ability to extrapulate his observations to the big picture thereby including what happens to you and me and everyone - tiger woods or john daly could write all about their behind the scenes antics but truth is i nor others could and would never be good golfers which of course would be a prerequisite to enter that world - but with bukowski one could be a drunk or go mad or have bad experiences with women or luck or life so his message was to be heeded)

i also think the magic has a form and bukowski borrowed different styles for different reasons from different influences even if it were only how they handled or faced death in the end - just like a great musician might learn to perform the individual pieces in such an order for maximum overall effect

the other thing is many of his influences died before wide popular reknown and acceptance of their work had been realized (the exception being hemimgway) which i think accounted for his stubborness to continue underground on his path despite obvious popular aboveground appeal to his commercial works in pornography
 

LickTheStar

Sad Flower in the Sand
Not to be captain obvious here, but the fact that Fante wrote about being an author is just a little bit similar to Buk, no?

I think that Dos and Fante (the only two on the list which I have read enough of to comment about) also included clearly flawed yet sympathetic main characters in their work.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. When we find you a ship, MISTER Obvious, then you may obtain the rank of CAPTAIN. Until then... SIR, I suggest you try not to overstep your boundaries.

But yes I do agree with you. Though I haven't read Dos Passos. But that isn't to say I didn't TRY... Ah well, maybe next year...
 
F

frankD

you will see a great deal of similarities in dos passo manhattan transfer specifically the STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS breaks between characters and settings which bukowski uses in his prose
 
I personally didn't understand it as a novel about poverty, the protagonist having a very ambiguous relation with hunger, provoking it as often as fleeing it. In many regards, Hunger rather appeared to me as mainly depicting the dereliction of the Artist.

I agree, it seemed to be a novel about distraction. Did the protagonist have the hunger to write, could he provide for himself and also satisfy his passions? The ending seemed an admittance that he had given up on his artistic aspirations.
 
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I personally didn't understand it as a novel about poverty, the protagonist having a very ambiguous relation with hunger, provoking it as often as fleeing it. In many regards, Hunger rather appeared to me as mainly depicting the dereliction of the Artist.

Well, it probably would have been more accurate to say that Hamsun chose the life he did because he was driven to be a writer, and he was undergoing the poverty and limitations that came with that. In Hunger, he's describing a young writer who's unable to find work, who's starving and homeless - certainly impoverished in the material sense of the word... Everything fails for him, including his job prospects, his outer appearance and the eventual collapse of his health. But he's preserving something precious inside, whether one calls it his dignity or his creative source... At one point, I think all he has left are pencil stubs that he preciously guards because... well, he's a writer who's caught in the grasp of his obsession... He'd rather write than eat - or life is forcing that decision upon him... Later, he's driven to such extremes of privation that his thoughts begin to unravel too and he heads into almost hallucinating territory. But it seems to me that he's choosing it all on some level - it's something voluntary and he willingly accepts it - and Hamsun's fantastic gift of describing the details of this slow unravelling is truly fantastic. In fact, I think that exquisite eye for detail is something else that Bukowski may have gotten from Hamsun, because Buk had a fantastic, even journalistic eye that is evident in so many of his great poems... I always thought he would have made one hell of a journalist if, for one reason or another, he had chosen not to play with the poem and novel... Anyway, that's my take on Hamsun and what may have impressed Bukowski about him. In a way, Bukowski's deprivations were accepted in the same way: voluntarily because society generally values the factotum over the writer. But whether hunger is voluntary or not, it still hurts the same and it's still...hunger.
 
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Black Swan

Abord the Yorikke!
Has anyone else here made these comparisons ? And if so, what where your findings ?
Both Buk and Fante wrote about LA and blue collar lifestyle, from european parents and describing their cultural differences and having to find shitty work while interested in becoming writers.
Celine and Buk also had a lot in common.
Buk's Ham on Rye and Celine's Death on the Installment Plan, both describe a similar chidhood with a set of parents where the father was cruel and a rather passive mother, a passion for horseracing and difficulty to fit in, getting badly paid jobs, learning at a young age to distrust.
I can't recall details because it has been a while since I read both but I remember many lines and images where I kept noticing the similarities.
 

number6horse

okyoutwopixiesoutyougo
Poptop - I have been trying to decide which work of Hamsun's to read for the first time. I liked your description of "Hunger" and will probably try that one. Thanks.
 
Thanks N6H. Good luck with it. I think you'll love it and it'll stick in your mind - it sure did mine. There are different translations, of course, some controversial, but I've read the George Egerton and enjoyed every word. (For those who might be interested, it can be found free on-line as a Gutenberg Project)... Anyway, I'd be interested in your reaction upon completion. I've sometimes thought about reading it again and skipping a few meals as part of the experience. That would be a trip.
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
I have'nt read 'Hunger', but I've seen the film adaptation a couple of times and liked it a lot.
 
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F

frankD

poptop,

1) do you think hamsun had something else beside HUNGER effecting him, like drug use or a mental illness or psychosis ? ( i've seen some homeless people push their physical limits and linguistically capable of some fantastic speeches however disconnected )

2) where do you think bukowskis' powers of observation came from ? especially when he was stupified by alcohol and very little sleep he seems to remember the smallest details - no ? ( i agree he was an excellent observer, that combined with a gift for using the right words ) are you saying he saw that in hamsun and made an effort to study and observe like hamsun ?

3) were these influences long term or just experiments and were they conscience or sub-conscience ?

frankD

black swan,

the more i read ABOUT fante the more i feel he had many alternatives including some very lucrative and whereas his wife was supportive and true and at last aknowledged as such by fante i considered fante as an enfante terrible

i'm not sure the LA thing and the lingering final years werent the only things buk saw as endering personally aside from the fante body of work buk found compelling

i'm looking forward to reading celine myself

frankD
 
J

JimmyLane

The characters Henry Chinaski and Arturo Bandini bear some strong similiarities, I think.

In my opinion Hamsun was a better prose writer than Buk and Fante put together, and that's no criticism against either of them, it's just Hamsun was that good.
 

LickTheStar

Sad Flower in the Sand
I wouldn't disagree with you 100% Jimmy (despite my icon), but... I need to read more Hamsun before I make a real statement I suppose. Better than Bukowski at prose, I would agree. Can't say about Fante though.
 
i think hunger and ask the dust and factotum are all similar books. in the same way that leaves of grass and the waste land and howl are all similar poems. (man, i havent ranted on this kinda shit since college)
 
C

Charles

you will see a great deal of similarities in dos passo manhattan transfer specifically the STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS breaks between characters and settings which bukowski uses in his prose

Bukowski novels? Stream of consciousness? Where?

While Fante also employs simple lines, his prose is much more dynamic than Buk's. I'm speaking of the internal dialogue, occasionally switching from 1rst to 2nd person, changing from past to present tense etc...Ditto Hamsun. The most obvious influence, at least in terms of style, to me, is Hemingway. Though ofter considered technically "better" writers, I still prefer Bukowski.
 
A female poet (I can't remember her name, but I saw some of her stuff in a British small-press zine) said that Bukowski was 'the piss-stain of Celine'. Now, I love Buk AND Celine, but I can see why she said it. Does anyone else see what she might of meant, even though she was, in my opinion, much too harsh on Buk.?
 

Black Swan

Abord the Yorikke!
Why would anyone want to compare Buk to the writers he admired?
I do not see any sense in doing so. Buk is a poet and his poetry speaks for itself.
And the proof is that you can't even name her.
 

bospress.net

www.bospress.net
Yeah, not saying that all criticism is invalid, but many people try to make a name for themselves by taking down someone bigger (and almost always more talented.) Clearly it did not work for this nameless woman poet
 
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