Charles Bukowski, Outsider Literature, and the Beat Movement

By Paul Clements

© 2013 – Routledge

214 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Hardback: 9780415807593
pub: 2013-03-06
US Dollars$145.00

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About the Book

This book uses cultural and psycho-social analysis to examine the beat writer Charles Bukowski and his literature, focusing on representations of the anti-hero rebel and outsider. Clements considers the complexities, ambiguities, and contradictions represented by the author and his work, exploring Bukowski’s visceral writing of the cultural ordinary and everyday self-narrative. The study considers Bukowski’s apolitical, gendered, and working-class stance to understand how the writer represents reality and is represented with regards to counter-cultural literature. In addition, Clements provides a broader socio-cultural focus that evaluates counterculture in relation to the American beat movement and mythology, highlighting the male cool anti-hero. The cultural practices and discourses utilized to situate Bukowski include the individual and society, outsiderdom, cult celebrity, fan embodiment, and disneyfication, providing a greater understanding of the beat generation and counterculture literature.


"Clements examines Bukowski in relationship to popular culture and popular notions of the man and his writing today and during his time. He deftly climbs many different frameworks and examines critics and authors, as well as theories and theorists, in an attempt to illuminate the dark dystopia of BukowskilandBukowski, his writing, his fans, his life, etc. This volume is not for the faint of heart and is an excellent resource for serious Bukowski scholars, graduate students, and faculty examining this poet and author." - Michelle M. Martínez, Sam Houston State University in The Journal of American Culture

Table of Contents

1. introduction 2. life as art – art as life 3. the writing 4. bukowski and beat mythology 5. the outsider 6. fan identification 7. celebrity culture 8. disneyland

About the Author

Paul Clements is Lecturer and Senior Tutor at Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Twentieth-Century Literature

From Joyce to Rushdie, Modernism to Food Writing, Routledge Studies in Twentieth Century Literature looks at both the literature and culture of the 20th century. This series is our home for cutting-edge, upper-level scholarly studies and edited collections. Considering literature alongside religion, popular culture, race, gender, ecology, travel, class, space, and other subjects, titles are characterized by dynamic interventions into established subjects and innovative studies on emerging topics.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / American / General