”It was easy to write about whores, but to write about a good woman was much more difficult” : En queer läsning av Charles Bukowskis Women och Love is a Dog from hell

Detta är en Kandidat-uppsats från Södertörns högskola/Institutionen för kultur och lärande


A Queer Reading of Charles Bukowskiʼs Women and Love is a dog from hell

This thesis aims to examine how the representation of gender is portrayed in relation to sex and power in Charles Bukowski’s novel Women and poetry collection Love is a dog from hell.

The theoretical frame of the analysis is based on Judith Butlerʼs queer theory regarding the heterosexual matrix and gender performativity. The analysis consists of a textual comparison where a specific selection of poems is analysed parallel to the novel to see how they interact and how they oppose each other, through a queer reading.

The analysis is divided in three parts where the first one discusses the construction of masculinity in Charles Bukowskiʼs protagonist Henry Chinaski and how this is presented differently in the two literary genres. The second part reveals how sex is presented in relation to power and how active and passive women are considered as sexually acceptable. The final part of the analysis discusses how women are portrayed in the novel and in the poetry. Further it demonstrates the consequences for women who do not act as expected in relation to their gender roles.

In addition to this, the thesis investigates how the poetry functions as a tool to apply depth to the characters in the novel. It also points out how the sexual relationships work as a way of maintaining the masculine superiority over women. The repetitive way in which the protagonist fails to fulfil his sexual performance points towards an image of Chinaski as queer, something that previous scholarship has failed to notice.

In conclusion, this essay shows how a queer reading can work as an instrument to read a text that is generally interpreted as heteronormative, macho and misogynistic. The queer reading in the thesis demonstrates a different interpretation of predetermined gender roles in two of Bukowski’s literary works.

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