Henry Chinaski

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 where Henry Chinaski ends and Bukowski begins. Many people consider the character and the man to be one and the same.

But Bukowski the man and Chinaski the character are actually quite different personae. Without a doubt, Chinaski is certainly a version of Bukowski, and they do overlap, but they are independent entities.

For example, the fact that Charles Bukowski, the author, was an intense and prolific letter writer, corresponding on a regular basis with many different people, and that he personally answered nearly all mail directed toward him, contrasts greatly with the image of Henry Chinaski, the disenfranchised outsider, fiercely independent.

Also, the narrator of the poems, and also the narrator of the shorter stories, seems a somewhat different person than the Chinaski of Post Office.

In some of the stories in Tales of Ordinary Madness, Bukowski even speaks of what he refers to as the "Bukowski Myth."

Never the less, Henry Chinaski remains a sort of Dostoyevskiesque hero, or anti-hero, to many of Bukowski's enthusiastic readers, as does Bukowski the man.

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