Surviving survival : the life & death of the Kosinskian man / Mark Olyan.
Jerzy Kosinski (1933–1991) was a Polish-American Holocaust survivor who wrote a number of critically acclaimed novels between 1965 and 1988. His first, The Painted Bird (1965), was significant in helping to bring survivor literature into the public consciousness. Since its initial publication, the book has never been out of print and has subsequently been translated into over thirty languages. The discussion which follows examines seven of Kosinski's nine works of fiction and focuses on the significance of the Kosinskian protagonist. These distinctive male characters evolve from novel to novel, but they all have one thing in common: their survival experience, as young children, defines them for the rest of their lives (as well as throughout the rest of Kosinski's texts). The severity of their wounds affects the way that they see and experience the world, and impairs their ability to relate to others. This work proposes that all the protagonists together make up what amounts to a life cycle. From his appearance in The Painted Bird to his demise in The Hermit of 69th Street: The Working Papers of Norbert Kosky, the young boy survivor remains the focal point of Kosinski's work, as he moves from adolescence to manhood and struggles to reenter society. Regardless of where they venture, Kosinski's protagonists cannot escape their earliest childhood memories. They are never truly at peace. For these characters, the Holocaust continues on, within them. Only their deaths, it seems, will discontinue their ongoing agony.
Record last modified: 2018-05-25 09:44:00
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