Against the American Dream: Essays on Charles Bukowski

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9780876859599: Against the American Dream: Essays on Charles Bukowski
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Charles Bukowski (1920 1994), poet laureate of the drunk and downtrodden, was an authentic folk-genius of the American vernacular. For Russell Harrison, he was also a "social lyricist" a proletarian poet who saw life-on-the-job in the United States as deadening, demoralizing, yet also the stuff of art. In this collection of essays on Bukowski's poetry and fiction, Harrison is at his most original when tracing influences on the artist's work (from the Surrealists to Jackie Gleason) and when offering us Buk as the anti-Ben Franklin (that is, as the man who defined success as refusing the American Dream).

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About the Author:

Russell Harrison (b. 1944) is an associate professor of American literature at Hofstra University. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

From Publishers Weekly:

Although Harrison's writings on Bukowski's poetry and fiction are scholarly, they are hardly unpartisan, adopting an almost strident tone in arguments that the late poet's work remains unjustly unappreciated. By his death this past year, Bukowski had written for 50 years and published five novels (most recently Pulp), five short story collections and 10 poetry collections. But, Harrison argues consistently if not always convincingly, Bukowski has been ignored by academics and anthologists in part because he doesn't fit neatly into a genre and in part because his subject is the working class. Harrison presents Bukowski as a ``social lyricist'' and ``a proletarian poet'' who saw life in America as deadening, routinized, and whose achievement was to make poetry out of his refusal to buy into the American Dream. Harrison is at his most helpful when tracing the literary and popular influences in Bukowski's work, from the Surrealists and Bertold Brecht to Henry Miller and Jackie Gleason. Harrison quotes extensively from Bukowski's writings and analyzes their message in hopes of gaining a sympathetic and wider audience for a poet who defies convention.

Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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