"I photograph and record what I see and what happens to me. I am not a guru or leader of any sort. I am not a man who looks for solutions in God or politics. If somebody else wants to do the dirty work and create a better world for us and he can do it, I will accept it. In Europe where my work is having much luck, various groups have put a claim on me, revolutionaries, anarchists, so forth, because I have written of the common man of the streets, but in interviews over there I have had to disclaim a conscious working relationship with them because there isn't any. I have compassion for almost all the individuals of the world; at the same time, they repulse me."--Charles Bukowski (Dougherty 1)
Taken from one of the few interviews of length that Charles Bukowski ever gave, this quotation underscores one of the primary paradoxes of his ideology: a simultaneous repugnance toward and attraction to the characters that populate his work. Perhaps he's repulsed by his characters because so many of them reflect himself and his life.
Bukowski was born in Andernach, Germany on August 16, 1920, and came with his family to the United States when he was three. Bukowski had been a writer for most of his childhood, published his first story at the age of twenty-four, and his first poem at thirty-five. Although Bukowski was never really associated with Jack Kerouac or Allen Ginsberg, or other major Beat writers, his informal style and non-conforming literary approach has endeared him to readers of the Beat genre (Dougherty 4).
Henry Chinaski was an autobiographical character that Bukowski used in four novels, as well as in many short stories and narrative poems. The main character in the movie Barfly, for example, was Henry Chinaski. This characterization is similar to Hemingway's Nick Adams, Joyce's Stephen Dedalus, or Kerouac's Jack Dulouz (or Sal Paradise). Because of the realistic, bitterly honest style of Bukowski's writing, it is difficult to tell...