Alcoholic writers: Charles Bukowski (thesis)

“no hope, just / booze and madness”: Connecting Social Alienation and Alcoholism in Charles Bukowski’s Autobiographical Fiction
by Mike Ryan, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, M.A. thesis, 2014
Abstract (Summary)
The prevalence of alcoholic writers in 20th -century American literature reached what has been called epidemic proportions. Many of these writers wrote autobiographical accounts of their alcoholism through alter egos in their literary works. Of these, perhaps none is as extensive and detailed as Charles Bukowski’s persona Henry Chinaski. This thesis is a case study of Chinaski’s alcoholism through five of Bukowski’s autobiographical novels. In it, I explore the complexities of Chinaski’s alcoholism and make the claim that social alienation is a driving force for the onset and the intensity of his alcohol addiction. The novels span Chinaski’s life from youth to old age, and factors such as childhood abuse and labor conditions in the post-Depression era work to alienate him. Through close, contextual reading of Bukowski’s novels aided with sociological and medical scholarship on addiction, the relationship between alienation and alcoholism is explored.

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