Henry Charles Bukowski born as Heinrich Karl Bukowski on August 16, 1920 was a German born American novelist, poet, and short story writer. He was a prolific writer, and a great orator, who occasionally recited poems on radio shows and public events.
Though Bukowski didn’t garner much praise or media attention in America, but he was quite the star in Europe, especially in his birth place Germany.
If you have a penchant for crude realism, you’ll definitely enjoy our list of— 50 Brutally Honest Charles Bukowski Quotes. Before that, let’s take a quick look at the biography of Charles Bukowski.
Persona of Charles Bukowski:
Charles Bukowski was one such writer, who didn’t care about his public image. He was far from the poised image of a writer, that readers generally have in their minds.
Despite knowing it, Bukowski never tried to change his public image to sell his work, because in his words— he didn’t give a damn about it.
The writer enjoyed media attention and was frequently spotted with women around him. He casually drank alcohol and smoke cigarettes during his recitals.
Though his personal and public life was messed up, but he never let it interfere with his work. Bukowski in his interviews has stated— when he sat to work, he never tried and burst his feelings onto the paper.
Whenever he felt something is worth writing, he wrote it and didn’t wait for the inspiration or moment to strike again. It was his dedication, consistency, and discipline towards his work, that made him one of the finest writers of the1900’s.
Bukowski’s Work and Writing Style:
Over his lifetime, Bukowski wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories, compiled six novels, and published over 60 books.
The writer had a distinctive writing style. He used elements such as hyper-realism, transgressive fiction, drudgery, and sexual imagery, which were a dominant part of his work.
Bukowski never intended to imitate someone’s style, polish his vocabulary or sensor his speech for the sake of writing.
He was brutally honest with his literally projections in the form of his poems, that often dealt with issues related to his life, childhood, and the struggles of the poor Americans.
The 1986 edition of Time magazine’s called Bukowski a “laureate of American lowlife.” Adam Kirsch of The Newyoker wrote, “the secret of Bukowski’s appeal is that, he combines the confessional poet’s promise of intimacy with the larger-than-life aplomb of a pulp-fiction hero.”
Anthony Kiedis, the lead singer of famous American rock band, Red Hot Chili Pepper has revealed that Bukowski’s work has had a major influence on his writing. Other famous bands like Fall Out Boy and Arctic Monkeys have also referenced Bukowski through their work.
Without further rambling let’s quickly check out 50 Brutally Honest Charles Bukowski Quotes on People, Love, Women, Art, Sadness & Death.
50 Brutally Honest Charles Bukowski Quotes on People, Love, Women, Art, Sadness & Death
Charles Bukowski Quotes on People:
1. “The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.“
2. “People with no morals often considered themselves more free, but mostly they lacked the ability to feel or love.“
3. “What is terrible is not death but the lives people live or don’t live up until their death.”
4. “We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.” – Charles Bukowski Quotes
5. “Some people like what you do, some people hate what you do, but most people simply don’t give a damn.”
6. “We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.” – Charles Bukowski Quotes
Also Read: French Writer Albert Camus Quotes on Mankind, Life and Philosophy
Charles Bukowski Quotes on Love and Women:
7. “Find what you love and let it kill you.”
8. “If you have the ability to love, love yourself first.”
9. “Of course it’s possible to love a human being if you don’t know them too well.”
10. “Love is all right for those who can handle the psychic overload. It’s like trying to carry a full garbage can on your back over a rushing river of p#ss.” – Charles Bukowski Quotes
11. “I remember awakening one morning and finding everything smeared with the color of forgotten love.
12. “If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision.
It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.” – Charles Bukowski
13. “There are women who can make you feel more with their bodies and their souls, but these are the exact women who will turn the knife into you right in front of the crowd. Of course, I expect this, but the knife still cuts.”
14. “Few beautiful women were willing to indicate in public that they belonged to someone. I had known enough women to realize this. I accepted them for what they were and love came hard and very seldom. When it did it was usually for the wrong reasons. One simply became tired of holding back love and let it go because it needed some place to go. Then, usually, there was trouble.” – Charles Bukowski Quotes
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15. “We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble at us.”
16. “Look, let me put it this way; with me, you’re number one, and there isn’t even a number two.”
17. “Beauty is nothing; beauty won’t stay. You don’t know how lucky you are to be ugly, because if people like you, you know it’s for something else.”
18. “I will remember the kisses our lips raw with love and how you gave me everything you had and how I offered you what was left of me.”
19. “Nobody can save you but yourself and you’re worth saving. It’s a war not easily won but if anything is worth winning then this it.”
20. “I was glad I wasn’t in love, that I wasn’t happy with the world. I like being at odds with everything. People in love often become edgy, dangerous. They lose their sense of perspective. They lose their sense of humor. They become a nervous psychotic bore. They even become killers.” – Charles Bukowski Quotes
21. “I would have loved you more if I had sat in a small room rolling a cigarette and listened to you p#ss in the bathroom, but that didn’t happen.”
22. “Love is kind of like when you see a fog in the morning when you wake up before the sun comes out. It’s just a little while, and then it burns away… Love is a fog that burns with the first daylight of beauty.”
23. “I loved you like a man loves a woman he never touches, only writes to, keeps little photographs of.”
24. “God, love is more strange than numerals, more strange than grass on fire, more strange than the dead body of a child drowned in the bottom of a tub, we know so little, we know so much we don’t know enough.”
25. “It’s like an old movie – 35 years old – that nobody ever saw or understood but me and even though the critics would dub it ordinary, I like it very much.” – Charles Bukowski Quotes
Also Read: 100 Albert Camus Quotes on God, Suicide, Death, Love, Psychology, Happiness & More
Charles Bukowski Quotes on Art:
26. “An artist is a man who says a difficult thing in a simple way.”
27. “An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.”
28. “Great writers are indecent people they live unfairly saving the best part for paper. good human beings save the world so that bastards like me can keep creating art, become immortal. if you read this after I am dead it means I made it.” – Charles Bukowski Quotes
29. “Style is the answer to everything. A fresh way to approach a dull or dangerous thing. To do a dull thing with style is preferable to doing a dangerous thing without it. To do a dangerous thing with style is what I call art.” – Charles Bukowski Quotes
30. “The Difference Between Art and Life is that Art is More Bearable.”
31. “The way to create art is to burn and destroy ordinary concepts and to substitute them with new truths that run down from the top of the head and out of the heart.” – Charles Bukowski Quotes
32. “To do a dull thing with style-now that’s what I call art.”
33. “Bullfighting can be an art Boxing can be an art Loving can be an art Opening a can of sardines can be an art.”
34. “Beware the average man the average woman beware their love, their love is average seeks average but there is genius in their hatred there is enough genius in their hatred to kill you to kill anybody not wanting solitude not understanding solitude they will attempt to destroy anything that differs from their own not being able to create art they will not understand art they will consider their failure as creators only as a failure of the world.” – Charles Bukowski Quotes
35. “I should think that many of our poets, the honest ones, will confess to having no manifesto. It is a painful confession but the art of poetry carries its own powers without having to break them down into critical listings. I do not mean that poetry should be raffish and irresponsible clown tossing off words into the void. But the very feeling of a good poem carries its own reason for being… Art is its own excuse, and it’s either Art or it’s something else. It’s either a poem or a piece of cheese.” – Charles Bukowski Quotes
36. To me Art (poetry) is a continuous and continuing process and that when a man fails to write good poetry he fails to live fully or well.
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Charles Bukowski Quotes on Sadness and Death:
37. “I felt like crying but nothing came out. it was just a sort of sad sickness, sick sad, when you can’t feel any worse. I think you know it. I think everybody knows it now and then. but I think I have known it pretty often, too often.” – Charles Bukowski Quotes
38. “The human body is mostly blood and mystery and sadness.”
39. “Censorship is the tool of those who have the need to hide actualities from themselves and from others. Their fear is only their inability to face what is real, and I can’t vent any anger against them. I only feel this appalling sadness. Somewhere, in their upbringing, they were shielded against the total facts of our existence. They were only taught to look one way when many ways exist.” – Charles Bukowski Quotes
40. “You have to die a few times before you can really live.”
41. “My dear, Find what you love and let it kill you. Let it drain you of your all. Let it cling onto your back and weigh you down into eventual nothingness. Let it kill you and let it devour your remains. For all things will kill you, both slowly and fastly, but it’s much better to be killed by a lover.” – Falsely yours, Charles Bukowski Quotes
42. “There’s nothing to mourn about death any more than there is to mourn about the growing of a flower. What is terrible is not death but the lives people live or don’t live up until their death. They don’t honor their own lives… Their minds are full of cotton. They swallow God without thinking, they swallow country without thinking. Soon they forget how to think, they let others think for them…. Most people’s deaths are a sham. There’s nothing left to die.” – Charles Bukowski Quotes
43. “… to die on a kitchen floor at 7 o’clock in the morning while other people are frying eggs is not so rough unless it happens to you.” – Charles Bukowski Quotes
Also Read: 30 Profound Quotes by Jiddu Krishnamurti on the Nature of Mind and Life
Charles Bukowski Quotes on Writing:
44. “He asked, “What makes a man a writer?” “Well,” I said, “it’s simple. You either get it down on paper, or jump off a bridge.”
45. “Most people are much better at saying things in letters than in conversation, and some people can write artistic, inventive letters, but when they try a poem or story or novel they become pretentious.”
46. “There’s nothing to stop a man from writing unless that man
stops himself. If a man truly desires to write, then he will.
Rejection and ridicule will only strengthen him. And the longer
he is held back the stronger he will become, like a mass of rising
water against a dam. There is no losing in writing, it will make your toes laugh
as you sleep, it will make you stride like a tiger, it will fire
the eye and put you face to face with death. You will die a fighter,
you will be honored in hell. The luck of the word. Go with it, send it.” – Charles Bukowski Quotes
47. “Somebody at one of these places asked me: “What do you do? How do you write, create?” You don’t, I told them. You “don’t try”. That’s very important: not to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more. It’s like a bug high on the wall. You wait for it to come to you. When it gets close enough you reach out, slap out and kill it. Or if you like it’s looks, you make a pet out of it.” – Charles Bukowski Quotes
48. “There was nothing glorious about the life of a drinker or the life of a writer.”
49. “There is only one place to write and that is alone at a typewriter. The writer who has to go into the streets is a writer who does not know the streets. . . when you leave your typewriter you leave your machine gun and the rats come pouring through.” – Charles Bukowski Quotes
Also Read: 21 Life Changing Bhagavad Gita Quotes with Explanation and Meaning
50. “There is a problem with writers. If what a writer wrote was published and sold many, many copies, the writer thought he was great. If what a writer wrote was published and sold a medium number of copies, the writer thought he was great. If what a writer wrote was published and sold very few copies, the writer thought he was great. If what the writer wrote never was published and he didn’t have enough the money to publish it himself, then he thought he was truly great.
The truth, however, was there was very little greatness. It was almost non-existent, invisible. But you could be sure that the worst writers had the most confidence, the least self-doubt. Anyway, writers were to be avoided, and I tried to avoid them, but it was almost impossible. They hoped for some sort of brotherhood, some kind of togetherness. None of it had anything to do with writing, none of it helped at the typewriter.” – Charles Bukowski Quotes
Know More about Charles Bukowski here.
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