The last years in the life of Charles Bukowski


The life of Charles Bukowski, following his long bibliography, is easily recognizable. In his poems, in his stories, in his novels, all the situations that he experienced are reflected.

From his jobs as a factotum, never better said, his beginnings as a writer, his fights and his constant visits to the racetrack or even his childhood, which can be read profusely in “The Path of the Loser”, “Ham on Rye” (1 ), as it was originally titled, in a nod to Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye”.

But if his life was well known, in some cases almost in detail, his last years, obviously, could hardly be. In addition, his twilight work met fiction, when what was the reason for his writing was running out: the readings of poems, the women who in a multitude flattered him to bed, sleeping on a bench covered in poverty or describing perfectly with few adjectives the many boarding houses in which he lived and the life around him.


Bukowski lived many more years than he would have imagined or what any doctor would have predicted, but at the end of his long days he came to know the disease, which was gradually undermining his health, although in his seventies he still gave himself time to give yourself some spree.

Bukowski with his Mac

And is that Bukowski’s life in recent years has changed a lot. His daughter Marina gave him a Macintosh IIsi at Christmas 1990. He took a course to learn how to operate it, although as he acknowledged, he was not very skilled in operating it.

He managed to erase half of the 1991 novel Pulp from his hard drive, which he was able to recompose. Of course, the computer helped to capture his creativity: «I got drunk to write one night. To review it, another. With the computer I did it in a single night «.

Bukowski had begun to be successful with women when he achieved fame for her. After meeting countless females, in 1983 he proposed to Linda Lee Beighle, who appears in his novel “Women”his novel “Women” and with whom he would spend the rest of his days. She was 46, He was 64.

From that moment on, he exchanged the high alcohol content of spirits for good wine. He began to vary all his routines, except for his visits and bets at the racetrack and began to frequent other friends, as we will see later, and to live a more relaxed existence.

It is said that he had more dealings with people his age or older than with the “young ladies” that he used to. With Linda Lee he found peace, although he also had disagreements. Maybe he was too complicated a guy. Called a misogynist, a misanthrope to the core and other little celebrated qualifications, he did not understand him even his mother-in-law, who from time to time came to visit them. The elderly woman, considerably older than Hank, did not understand him. Why does he have to write that way?

Why does he do it? ‘ And Bukowski was still the same: “I work well for a bottle and a half, after that, I’m like any old drunk in a bar: a repetitive and heavy guy.”

Bukowski with Madonna, Schwarzenegger, Sean Penn and U2

Sean Penn, already a friend of Bukowski, had volunteered to star in Barfly for a dollar.
The previous movie experience had not been very favorable. Bukowski spoke pests of “Ordinary Madness”, calling it “ridiculous and bad”, although from that moment on he did become famous or popular.

His outbursts were becoming known. Like that one meeting with Schwarzenegger, when coinciding with the birthday of a mutual friend, he snapped at him: «You’re a little shit … who do you think you are? Just because you make those shitty movies, you’re nothing special megalomaniac.

In the most illuminating biography of these years, the one written by Barry Miles in 2005, it is claimed that Schwarzenegger did not respond.

What is also not said is that it happened before Bukowski said such words. Perhaps nothing particular happened and the writer gave free rein to the memory of his past plagued with fights. Challenging Schwarzenegger had its sure point of danger.

Due to his popularity, he began to frequent previously unknown circles where Hollywood people mixed: musicians, actors, film directors.

This is how he began to frequent the company of what would be his great friend Sean Penn, who was married to Madonna at the time. We are in the era of the erotic book “Sex” that the singer published.

She apparently asked Bukowski to pose, we do not know what exactly the proposal consisted of, but we do know that she did not accept. Like her, she agreed to appear on famous television shows like Johnny Carson’s Late Night Show.

He would not want to repeat the Apostrophes scandal or he simply did not want to be part of the cathodic circus. At that time his income as a writer came mainly from Europe. Apparently he got to earn more than $ 100,000 in royalties per year for European sales of him.

The Poem The Dinner, dinner with Madonna and Sean Pean

Returning to the writer’s relationship with Madonna and Sean Penn, a curious event is perhaps more striking because of the characters in which the action is framed. Everything went well between them until the old spirit of the “indecent” genius quickened.

Like so many events in everyday life, the encounters with the famous couple bore fruit in the form of a poem. He did it with “The Dinner.”

In that poem he reflected things that he regretted. But he later regretted it because when he claimed to remove it from the collection of poems, the first edition had already been launched.

In this poem no names were reflected, but any would locate the characters that appeared on the paper.

In it, Bukowski, narrated the development of an evening, of a dinner with both.

And in it he criticized that both of them, being rich and famous, allowed themselves to be invited by him, an old writer who had just arrived at the orb of fame.

Bukowski´s poem. 1976-03-27

It doesn’t really seem like that either, since from the many meals they had, as well as the times they invited him to his mansion, they sent him his limousine. Bukowski, a professional blunder, was making another public mistake.

Of course, Sean Penn came to interview him for “People” magazine and it does not seem that the relationship became stormy. Although, clearly, it reflected again the temperament of Charles Bukowski.

As we mentioned before, the last years of him moved more along the paths of calm and tranquility. In 1986 he wrote in a letter to a friend: “My cats, my wife, they calm me down, they calm me down.”

The day after finishing the novel “Hollywood” where he reels the details of the movie “Barfly”, Bukowski falls ill.

The beginning of the disease

For almost a week she suffered from a high fever. Two doctors he consulted could not say what was behind these symptoms that ended up causing him to lose many kilos.
He tried acupuncture with no results. He wrote little, and he did it from bed.

Finally, after an X-ray of his chest, it was discovered that his disease had a name: tuberculosis.

But he got better, on November 14, 1989 he had his first drink. At nine months he was smoking cigars and his classic bidis, tobacco cuttings wrapped in Kendu leaf.

In 1992 an eye infection was detected. It is the first time that he has to stop writing out of obligation. The recovery was successful, but it was the worst preamble imagined.

In November of the same year, at a concert by the Irish group U2, singer Bono announced that the concert was dedicated to Charles and Linda Bukowski.

Apparently Hank gave a good account, in the stage or back stage, more modernly, of too many sevens up with vodka.

When he got out of the limo that was taking him home, he tripped and fell on the porch. He crashed against the stone floor.

In addition to a knee sprain, there was an occasional cut to the head. Bukowski was getting old, he was losing his reflexes.

In 1993 he was diagnosed with the beginning of leukemia. He spent 64 days in the hospital.

He received chemotherapy treatment and began to lose his hair.

He wore a hat. When he left the hospital he stopped smoking and drinking. He found himself finding that he was able to write without being intoxicated. Unfortunately, the doctors told him that he had about a year to live.

On August 25, 1993 he began studying Deepak Chopra’s Ayurvedic healing method, based on the mastery of the mind over the body, over matter.

He no longer had anything to lose, and he thought that transcendental meditation could help him bear the weight of death. When “Death is smoking my cigarettes.”

The end of the life of Charles Bukowski. Los Angeles, the city where he is buried

But the reality was stubborn and the disease was slowly creeping around. The chemotherapy weakened him, making him prone to other diseases due to the fragility of his health. He was diagnosed with the pneumonia that would eventually end him.

His life ended on March 9, 1994, at the age of 73.

Three Buddhist monks officiated the ceremony in two languages, with chants and bows, which was held in Los Angeles. Bukowski entered the grave dressing casually. The coffin almost fell over on the way.

Next to the tomb, one of the monks posed for a formal photograph. As his biographer Barry Miles claims, Bukowski would have grasped the irony.

He reflected on multitudes of pages about death. His little obsession became more apparent in his later days: “Being near death is invigorating.”


(1) Ham on Rye refers to the sandwich that workers took to work at the beginning of the 20th century.


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Poetry Foundation. Charles Bukowski

 

Who were the Fleshly Poets? The carnal poets

The Fleshly school of poetry, (School of carnal poetry), brought together a group of English poets in the late 19th century associated with Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

Credit: Getty Images/Hulton Archive

The term Fleshly Poets was invented by Scottish author Robert Williams Buchanan (1841-1901) and appeared in an article written under a pseudonym in the Contemporary Review in October 1871).

In the text, the poetry of Rossetti and his colleagues, especially that of Algernon Swinburne, was censored as a “morbid deviation from healthy lifestyles”

In Buchanan’s view, these poets exhibited “an exquisite sensuality; not manly, not tender, completely insane; and a superfluity of extreme sensitivity. “

Rossetti responded with the writing: “The Stealthy School of Criticism” in December 1871, and Swinburne with a pamphlet, entitled: “Under the Microscope”, Under the Microscope, in 1872.

The House of Life, by Rossetti, an example of carnal poetry

The House of Life, by Rossetti, an example of carnal poetry

Of all Rossetti’s poems, the series The House of Life stands out, which describes the physical and spiritual development of an intimate relationship.

The theme of the poems, which is specified in sex and sensuality, are a good summary of what carnal poetry is and the focus where the critics were most primed against him and that of his poetry.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, drug addict and alcoholic, died years after his chosen retirement in 1870. Dante Gabriel’s sister, Christina Rossetti, also wrote poems where carnal temptation and charged eroticism meet, although in a less accentuated way.

The controversy over the carnal poets dragged on for quite some time and markedly distressed Rossetti.

In the work of Rossetti, Swinburne, and (to a lesser extent) William Morris, Buchanan had perceived – and disliked – a bluntness about sex and an absence of moral didacticism that anticipated the decadent movement of the late nineteenth century. Buchanan dedicated him the novel God and man (1881).

Oscar Wilde, also Fleshly poet?

Years later, as Luis Antonio de Villena writes in the prologue to the novel Wilde Encadenado, by José Carlos Bermejo, the librettists “Gilbert & Sullivan, premiered a comic or comic operetta that pretended to mock aestheticism, so exquisitely fashionable. The work is called “Patience”, and with her character Bunthorne they did not want to caricature Wilde, but rather everything that a critic called the “Fleshly poets” that is to say “the carnal poets”, immoral, from the aestheticism, doubtful …

“Patience” premiered in London in April 1881, it was such a success that businessmen had to take it to a larger theater, the Savoy. In those moments Wilde lived his striking moment of archetypal esthete, with his long hair, his velvet jackets and the mannerism of his flowers. For that reason (and because of the striking propaganda that the character generated) no one doubted in London that the protagonist of “Patience”, caricatured, was Oscar Wilde ».

William Shakespeare, Accusations of Plagiarism

All those things: playwright, actor, poet (or some of them, as we will see later) was William Shakespeare, who is still considered one of the greatest playwrights in the world and who is credited with authorship – in whole or in part – of a total of thirty-eight theatrical works and an abundant poetic production.

Shakespeare was born into a family without many resources: he was the eldest of eight siblings and, at that time, tradition led him to learn the trade of the father, butcher, because being the first-born guaranteed him to be the continuing heir of the family business .

But fate wanted his life to develop in other very different directions, in all imaginable aspects of an incipient and popular art: theater.

In 1588 he left his native Stratford-on-Avon and moved to the London capital where in just four years he began to be considered as an actor.

A different theater

In Shakespeare’s time, during the reign of Elizabeth I, the theater was not yet staged in rooms suitable for this purpose. It was in the courtyards of the inns where the theatrical performances took place.

It was not until 1576 that the first room conceived for the theater, in Blackfriars, was opened to the public.

The theater was considered a minor art. Until with Shakespeare’s tragedies, the public began to give it the artistic quality it deserved as a show.

Through a series of circumstances and aided by his protector, the Earl of Southampton, he became a shareholder in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men theater company, which eventually became the King’s Men’s company.

This company performed plays at the Globe Theater, a hall that became the property of Shakespeare.

The company made itinerant tours throughout the provinces of the Empire, although on many occasions, due to the current epidemics that afflicted some territories, the show was set at the Globe theater.

Shakespeare, accused of plagiarism

From the beginning, the authorship of all works attributed to William Shakespeare has been called into question. For example, a 16th century scholar, Abel Lefranc, imputed all of Shakespeare’s plays to the pen of the Earl of Derby.

Or, for example, Delia Bacon, in the 19th century and after undertaking a series of serious investigations, came to the conclusion that her ascendant, Sir Francis Bacon, a famous English philosopher and statesman, was actually the author of the works of theater signed by William Shakespeare.

Other researchers point in another direction, stating that the creator of part of the Shakespearean tragedies is Christopher Marlowe, considered the greatest English poet and playwright until the arrival of William and who undoubtedly influenced the style and conception of the stories that the company represented the public.

Theatrical pieces dominated by characters whose central axis revolves around a great passion, but hostile fate and, sometimes, inordinate ambitions, usually lead some of these characters to catastrophe. The funny thing is that all these theories, including that the author of some tragedies is his friend and protector, the Earl of Southampton, are given credit.

On the other hand, the plays attributed to him: “Romeo and Juliet”, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “King Lear”, and so on. they were published posthumously, after Shakespeare died.

During the 16th century, at the time of the writer, theatrical works were not considered works of art, so they were never printed, the stage was the only place where the work came to life. So it is possible to think that although Shakespeare was not the original owner of his works, he could be the author of versions of original ideas of others.

Francis Meres, a contemporary author of William wrote: “If the muses wanted to learn English, they would take the diamond style of sweet Shakespeare.”

Possible plagiarism of Shakespeare

Some researchers have compiled the possible plagiarism that Shakespeare’s hand – voluntarily or involuntarily – perpetrated.

>> “Hamlet” (1601) seems to be based on the “History of the Danes”, written by an author named Saxo Grammaticus from the 13th century.

>> “King Lear” (1606) seems to come from a tragedy in white verse by Thomas Sackville.

> It is also considered that the tragedy of the lovers that William signed with his last name, “Romeo and Juliet”, is based on a story written by Masuccio de Salerno, a 15th century Italian author, a work that Lope de Vega adapted for him theater in Castilian.

Almost from the beginning of his public career, Shakespeare was accused of plagiarism. The first mention comes from Robert Green, a very prolific and popular playwright of the time, who without directly mentioning him accuses him of taking advantage of ideas already reflected in literature.

It is known that in those times, plagiarism was a fairly widespread custom, partly because the historical period in which our look at the past is framed was a time when the public demanded what is known as “blood tragedies” and In addition, the public was constantly looking for novelties, hence it is possible that Shakespeare was forced to adapt stories he knew to satisfy a very demanding public with the variety of the show.

In addition, the themes that were represented in those rickety patios of the fondas were repeated ad nauseam, since they used to have the same plot basis.

▷ 9 Curiosities about the life of Pablo Neruda

  1. Pablo Neruda’s father wanted his son to go to university to build a future for himself. Thus, he enrolled in the Institute
    Pedagogical. Quickly, it came to his ears that instead of frequenting the University
    d, he spends a lot of time in the bohemian life. Reason for which, he stops sending the money that he sent him every month to cover his expenses.
  2. To self-publish his first book, which was entitled “Crepusculario” (1923), Neruda sold his is
    houses his belongings: his furniture, a watch as a gift from his father and his black “poet’s” suit. Still, he needed a friend to loan him money so he could finish paying the printer.
  3. The early and discreet success does not exempt the poet from going through financial difficulties, so with the help of good friends, he obtained a position as Consul in 1927.
    Without even knowing where the city of Rangoon was located, he chooses that destination because he likes it.
    how the word sounded. In fact, when he was celebrating his new job with friends, he had already forgotten the name of the place in the Far East where he would reside until 1929.
  4. The support that Neruda gave to the Spanish Republic in the years of the civil war caused the animosity of the national side and the consequent cessation of him as Consul in Spain.
  5. Thanks to the subsequent victory in Chile of the Popular Front, in 1939 Neruda was appointed by President Pedro Aguirre to take care of a contingent of Spanish exiles.
  6. He managed to gather 2000 people. “My poetry in their struggle had managed to find them a homeland. I was proud ”.
  7. In June 1965, Neruda received the title of Doctor Honoris Causa of Philosophy and Letters from the prestigious University of Oxford. He was the first Latin writer to receive this honor.
  8. He was awarded the Viareggio-Versilia Prize, first instituted in 1967, to recognize “world personalities who work for culture and understanding between peoples.”
  9. In 1970, having presented himself as a pre-candidate for the Presidency of the Chilean Republic, Neruda withdrew his candidacy, like the rest of the candidates, in favor of Salvador Allende.

Boris Vian: books and literature. “I will spit on your grave”

Boris Vian wrote “I will spit on your grave” (J’irai cracher sur vos tombes) in 1947, and became a bestseller. Today it is still a hard and disturbing novel, perhaps not as much as it was at the time, although it was enough for the French Poster for Action Sociale et Morale (a French federation of local associations that works for the respect for what he considers “good moral”, created in 1883 by Tommy Fallot, who supports the abolition of prostitution and opposes pornography, alcohol and gambling), and that he already punishes Henry Miller with censorship , will denounce it.

Vian was judged for translating “objectionable material”, since it was supposed to be just that: the translator of the literary work, and sentenced to the payment of 100,000 francs, until in the summer of 1950 the French government banned new book sales . Until then it is estimated that the book had sold more than 500,000 copies.
Vian would not be the only one, nor the last to be denounced for going against public morals. Recall the case of the poet Baudelaire, who also suffered his own, and its editor, for ‘The flowers of Evil’.

In just two weeks, from August 5 to 23, 1946, Boris Vian turned himself into writing by copying the mode and manner of American black novels

Be that as it may, the ban felt phenomenal to “I will spit on your grave”, staying alive in memory until today and reediting itself again and again increasing its sales and its legend.

Why did Boris Vian write “I will spit on your grave”?

By the end of 1946, Boris Vian already knew that he would write a novel with that background and that form. It was intended to be the first work published by the publishing label: Editions du Scorpions, by a good friend, Jean d’Halluin, who proposes to Vian to write a novel in the style of Tropic of Cancer, of the aforementioned Henry Miller. In just two weeks, from August 5 to 23, 1946, Boris Vian gave himself to writing copying the mode and ways of American black novels, with “4 erotic scenes that prepare the world of tomorrow and paves the way for the true revolution ”, according to the words of the writer.

But Vian did not sign the book as such if the supposed translation of the book was not, since it was supposed to “Spit on your grave” in Spanish, J’irai cracher sur vos tombes, in French or I Shall Spit on Your Graves, in its version English; It was the work of a supposed young black writer, named Vernon Sullivan, whose work was banned in the United States, his native country. None of that was true.

As if that were not enough, the controversy of the novel about the subject matter and about which I will now make reference, literature and life were crossed since a man, who strangled his lover, left an open copy of the book on the table at night with one of the passages underlined and framed in a circle: “Again I felt that strange sensation that ran down my back when my hand closed over his throat and I couldn’t contain myself; I arrive; it was so strong that I let it go… ”The obtuse glances saw a relationship between both acts, that of fiction and that of reality, framing the second as a product of the induction of crime, as if the unleashed lover was not going to end his lover’s life if it hadn’t been for reading Vian’s book.

At first, the novel was going to be titled “I will dance on your grave”, but Michelle Léglise, Vian’s first wife, was more seduced by the idea of ​​”spitting” than “dancing” and was soon convinced to convince Boris.

The inspiration of the novel was the product of an article published in the American weekly Collier’s where it was explained that about two million black Americans “would have crossed the color line”, which would allow them to obtain the status of whites by administrative decree. It was estimated that in the mid-twentieth century between five and eight million whites had black blood.

Synopsis: “I will spit on your grave”

The plot of “I will spit on your grave” focuses on Lee Anderson, his protagonist, a white skinned, but genetically black, who wants to avenge the murder of one of his black brothers who died lynched and hung for having fallen in love with a woman white; and the beating received by another, by a heartless group of racists. Anderson’s plan includes rapes and physical violence without a brake, and his victims are two young sisters of a good family, with whom he befriends – along with a group of whites, alcohol and party friends, also young – while working in a bookstore.

Boris Vian’s little revenge

That same year, Vian published three more books, following a similar line, one of them keeps a curious anecdote: The Dead All Have the Same Skin Color, a novel with parallels with I will spit … by having as a protagonist a white with black genetics . Again, more rapes and murders. In this book Vian chose to name his protagonist with the same name as the head of the Cartel d’Action Sociale et Morale: Daniel Parker.

“Are these guys supposed to be Americans? And crap! ” Shortly thereafter, he died a victim of cardiac arrest.

As practically everyone knows I will spit … I kept a mockery of fate for Boris Vian.

When the film was released about his novel, in 1959, Vian died in the movie theater where it premiered. He was not happy with the result of adaptation to the cinema. And if you read the novel and watch the movie, you will realize the many dissimilarities. In fact, the very impressive end of the book has little to do with that of the film, much more poetic.

Shortly after the start of the screening, Vian said: “Are these guys supposed to be Americans? And crap! ” Shortly thereafter, he died a victim of cardiac arrest.

It would not be until after his death when his books saw reprints. The fact of censorship did not come at all well in life. Now, after a while, Boris Vian is still alive, and perhaps spitting and dancing on those who censured him in the name of good manners.


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