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by James Park Sloan

  • ISBN: 0452271673
  • Category: Biographies
  • Author: James Park Sloan
  • Subcategory: Arts & Literature
  • Other formats: lrf lrf doc mbr
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Plume (March 1, 1997)
  • FB2 size: 1458 kb
  • EPUB size: 1380 kb
  • Rating: 4.2
  • Votes: 359
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And yet the truth about Jerzy Kosinski, as set forth in this new biography by James Park Sloan, may be even . Sloan ascribes it to disliked conformity, he says-but in reality his anticommunism seems to have been principled enough.

And yet the truth about Jerzy Kosinski, as set forth in this new biography by James Park Sloan, may be even more fascinating. For though he disclaimed the role of spokesman for his generation, he was representative of it in many ways. Seeing that human values would never be restored to Poland as long as the Communists were in power, Kosinski left the country for the United States in 1959. He did not return for nearly twenty years.

In an intriguing and fascinating biography, Sloan, who knew Kosinski during the last 20 years of his life, reconciles the public persona with the private individual.

Long before writing it he regaled friends and dinner parties with macabre tales of a childhood spent in hiding among the Polish peasantry.

Jerzy Kosinski: a biography. Fewer than five years after Kosinski's suicide, Sloan's compelling and definitive biography justifies its subject and resolves the paradoxes of a haunted, self-promoting, but powerful storyteller (The.

James Park Sloan, Jerzy Kosinski: A Biography, Dutton, United States, 1996, p. 234). Attempt to dilute German guilt

James Park Sloan, Jerzy Kosinski: A Biography, Dutton, United States, 1996, p. Attempt to dilute German guilt. Glos Nauczycielski, the weekly publication of the teaching profession, took the same line, accusing The Painted Bird of an attempt "to dilute the German guilt for the crime of genocide by including the supposed guilt of all other Europeans and particularly those from Eastern Europe. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1996. B&W Illustrations Biography of a famous and controversial author, whose novels included The Painted Bird and Being There ISBN: 0525937846 (Kosinski, Jerzy, Authors, Biography). Even as his star was ascending, however, Kosinski was all but finished as a writer

Jerzy Kosinski: A Biography. Since his suicide in 1991, the literary reputation of Jerzy Kosinski has continued to sink. Even as his star was ascending, however, Kosinski was all but finished as a writer. His last six books became progressively more trivial, self- absorbed, and unreadable; and there drew closer the day of his exposure as a literary fraud.

And yet the truth about Jerzy Kosinski, as set forth in this new biography by James Park Sloan, may be even .

Jerzy Kosinski: A Biography by James Park Sloan. When doubts emerged about the veracity of the book’s autobiographical elements and it became clear to most people that Kosinski’s book was a special form of fiction, quite a few of his readers and critics were shocked again, although for a different reason. Now, as Sloan shows, they felt bewildered and betrayed by an author whom they soon came to consider the ultimate literary trickster. According to James Sloan, however, the roots for Kosinski’s lifelong desire to surprise and startle, to trick other people, lay deep in his past.

A biography of the late novelist discusses his wartime childhood in Poland, his strange and active sex life, his reputation as a writer, and his suspected ties to the CIA and accusations of plagiarism against him. Reprint.
Reviews about Jerzy Kosinski: A Biography (7):
Sataxe
Quite interesting biography of an interesting writer, author of that master piece titled "The painted bird". Although it does not search out Kozinsky reason or reasons to suicide, which was one of things that lead me to read it. Why he did so remains a bit of a mistery, although one can say it was due to depression caused by plague accusations and fear of illnesses, this one not apparently founded. For the rest, it is an interesting work for anyone having read and liked the author and his so called wild style of life. What seems, after all, did not go further of a certain voyeurism never participative. Easy reading.
Nalmergas
Since his suicide in 1991, the literary reputation of Jerzy Kosinski has continued to sink. At one time he was one of the most promising writers on the American scene, pounding out three hits in a row--the cult classic "The Painted Bird", "Steps" (winner of the 1969 National Book Award), and "Being There" (filmed in 1980 with Peter Sellers in the starring role). With their grisly violence and a sexuality bordering upon the sadomasochistic, the books raised Kosinski into the ranks of America's celebrity class.

Even as his star was ascending, however, Kosinski was all but finished as a writer. In June 1982, The Village Voice revealed that Kosinski (for whom English was a second language) had made extensive use of translators and collaborators to write all his books, and then had concealed the fact. The remainder of his life, as he himself said, was spent running from it.

And yet the truth about Jerzy Kosinski, as set forth in this new biography by James Park Sloan, may be even more fascinating. For though he disclaimed the role of spokesman for his generation, he was representative of it in many ways. A creature of postmodernity, he suffered--and celebrated--some of the most destructive pathologies of the age. It was as if he were hellbent on acting out the rupture in human values caused by the Holocaust. That was the central theme of his novels, and of his own life.

Born five months after Hitler came to power, he was the only child of Moses and Elzbieta Lewinkopf, a Jewish couple living in Lodz, Poland. His father changed their name to Kosinski--a more Polish-sounding name--in 1939 when he moved the family 120 miles away to the eastern border of German-held Poland. Here the family waited out the war, passing as Gentiles. Jerzy was carefully instructed to deny he was Jewish if challenged. It was a lesson that took a lifetime to unlearn. After the war, Moses Kosinski threw in with the "reds" against the "white" Polish loyalists, and when the Soviets took control, he was rewarded with a party appointment. For Jerzy his father's position meant a superficially trouble-free postwar existence: high school, photography, girl friends, jazz, cafe society, student-exchange trips to Russia, and the University of Lodz.

Unlike his father, however, he despised communism. Sloan ascribes it to personality--Kosinski disliked conformity, he says--but in reality his anticommunism seems to have been principled enough. Seeing that human values would never be restored to Poland as long as the Communists were in power, Kosinski left the country for the United States in 1959. He did not return for nearly twenty years.

Although he tries to make a case for behind-the-scenes CIA sponsorship of the books, Sloan has no hard information and is not to be trusted on this score: for him, anyone who is anticommunist simply must be a "John Bircher"; the only reason he can imagine for writing an anticommunist book is to further "propaganda efforts directed at the Soviets" while tricking Americans into "accepting high levels of funding for defense and intelligence spending."

Sloan is generally helpless in dealing with ideas. A novelist and teacher of creative writing, he belongs to the vaguely leftist culture of American universities, and treats all writing as more or less fiction. Kosinski, by contrast, was a sharp-minded and lifelong man of the right. Although "The Painted Bird" made him popular with young readers, he scorned the student movement of the sixties. From firsthand experience he knew the falseness of the promise of "liberation."

And yet he also yielded to its allure. Despite his contempt for the political ideas of the young and their so-called "counterculture," Kosinski was an enthusiastic participant in the sexual revolution of the sixties and after.

What was the reason for this sexual adventurism? Sloan sets it down to a love of "sexual theater" that mirrored Kosinski's compulsive need to lie and feign and pose in all areas of his life, compensating for "the hollowness at the core of his being." This theory explains much: the reckless driving, the abuse of small dogs, the thirst for fame, the fabrication of personal experience, the secretiveness about how he wrote, the denial of his Jewish identity. On this theory, Kosinski emerges as a classic borderline personality, frantically defending himself against intense feelings of hopelessness and abandonment. He even appears somewhat heroic, because he restrained himself from crossing the border into all-out psychosis.

What this theory cannot explain, however, is Kosinski's strong moral opposition to communism and persistent loyalty to political freedom. Naturally, his biographer would like to dismiss Kosinski's political convictions as yet another compulsion. The evidence is otherwise.

Nor can the psychological theory account for the haunting power of Kosinski's one great book--"The Painted Bird". Strictly speaking, it is not a Holocaust book. Like the Vilna ghetto poet Abraham Sutzkever, Kosinski rarely mentions the German exterminators; but unlike Sutzkever (who reserves speech for the Jewish dead), Kosinski aims to exhibit cruelty and backwardness. "The Painted Bird" is notorious for its horrors. "The Germans puzzled me," the boy says. "Was such a destitute, cruel world worth ruling?"

This is the question that Kosinski's whole life was given over to answering. That he died by his own hand suggests that his answer, finally, was No. And so Kosinski joined a line of Holocaust writers--Tadeusz Borowski, Jean Amery, Paul Celan, Primo Levi--who by committing suicide testified that the world was beyond repair. Although "The Painted Bird" may not be directly about the Holocaust it is nevertheless an indispensable document of the Holocaust.

First Things (October 1996)
Agalen
I had read "The Painted Bird" by Jerzy Kosinski, before I read the biography by J. Sloan. "The painted bird" is a powerful book and I wondered about the author. A lot of things made sense to me after reading the biography. Sloan has written a very interesting book , but I feel that he has written too much of his own analysis. If Sloan knew Kosinski for about 20 years, there is no mention of a single event of that in the whole book. I found this kind of surprising, since the book is a memoir. In spite of all the controversies surrounding Kosinski, he is still a great story teller.
TheJonnyTest
I grew up in Poland in the 70s and 80s and was unaware of Kosinski of that time. I was, however, aware of how the population felt towards the "collaborators", for example students who went on exchange programs to the Soviet Union.
I personally was punished for refusing the obligatory field trips to the USSR throughout high school.
While some people may see something good in collaborating with the enemy or doing anything to get ahead in life, I see 1 major flaw in this book: misspelling of Polish names, newspaper titles, names of towns. This may not bother Americans, but is annoying to a Polish speaker. This book should have been proof-read by a native Pole.
I paid ... for the hardcover, and I consider it was a decent investment.
Gldasiy
Sloan, while not the most gripping writer, provides a digestible account of Kosinski's life and works. Much of the mythos accorded to Kosinski is addressed, if not fully explained. The largest benefit this book can bring to the reader is a refutation of the oftentimes confused early history of the author. Kosinski allowed and encouraged the public's belief that The Painted Bird was mostly autobiographical in a literal sense. This belief gained popularity to the extent that it has appeared as fact in "about the author" blurbs and websites devoted to Kosinski. Sloan disabuses the reader of this notion and places a much closer version of the reality in the reader's vision. However, he makes many mistakes. As noted by another review, "Sloan Should Have Proof-Read The Manuscripts," he makes several factual errors. He dispells some myths but clings to others despite facts to the contrary. Sloan interviewed Kiki (Kosinski's widow), as well as many others. Kiki told him that the story of Kosinski's arrival, in Poland, at his publisher's buisness in a limo with American flags was not true. In reality, Kosinski had come downstairs from a meeting. No car was involved, yet Sloan kept the myth. Such disregard for his sources and perpetration of myth makes me wonder what else Sloan did not accurately explain.
For the reader casually interested in Kosinski, I encourage reading Sloan's work as it does explore Kosinski's life quite in depth. For the scholar of Kosinski, it's a useful addition to the library, but not the first one to be turned to for understanding.

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