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The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosiński
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The Painted Bird (1965)

by Jerzy Kosiński

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,417604,099 (3.83)68
A young boy, abandoned by his parents during World War II, wanders alone from one village to another in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe.
  1. 42
    The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Stbalbach)
    Stbalbach: Kosinski & McCarthy were born 5 weeks apart in 1933 and were ages 6-12 during WWII. Both books are dark violent fables told from a child's view.
  2. 10
    Babi Yar by Anatoly Kuznetsov (meggyweg)
  3. 00
    The Complete Black Book of Russian Jewry by Ilja Ehrenburg (meggyweg)
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» See also 68 mentions

English (54)  Dutch (3)  Hebrew (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (59)
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
An interesting read. Perhaps not as shocking today as it was when first published but it still paints some awful imagery. I appreciated Kosinski's use of metaphor. It's a breezy read you can feel cool about having read. There, I said it. ( )
  Adrian_Astur_Alvarez | Dec 3, 2019 |
An interesting read. Perhaps not as shocking today as it was when first published but it still paints some awful imagery. I appreciated Kosinski's use of metaphor. It's a breezy read you can feel cool about having read. There, I said it. ( )
  Adrian_Astur_Alvarez | Dec 3, 2019 |
Shouldn't review this book, because I could not read it, though it was included in a syllabus of a course that I taught, had taken over after the syllabus designer stepped down (ill, I think, but forty-five years ago, so...) At the time I think the author was teaching at Yale, and I recall being astonished that his unreadable novel was actually valued, and sold very well. I conclude that many who bought it did not read it.* It is an assault. Followed by an assault. Leading to an assault. Maybe it appeals to masochists, serious ones?
I must admit Kosinski wrote one fine line, his Suicide note,"I am going to put myself to sleep now for a bit longer than usual. Call it Eternity."("Newsweek, May 13, 1991/Wikipedia)
One critic, Pognowski, says Kozinski's novel is an attempt to profiteer from the Holocaust. Other critics have said Kozinski wrote in Polish, and had it translated; moreover, many of the terrible brutalities it recounts, supposedly on known Jewish children in a known Polish family, never happened. JK got around this by insisting it is fiction, but people credited the book as autobiographical.
Also, may I wonder where suicides have become so prominent in modern American literature, from Sylvia Plath to Berryman to the Jerzy boy. Not that I disapprove suicide for the terminally ill--which may in fact have been the case here; indeed, I agree with the Stoics that the mortally ill may take "exitus rationis," reasonable departure. Why should we put animals out of their misery, but not humans--okay, okay, Christianity values suffering. But not me.
Especially the reader's suffering, I do not value. As here.

*I suspect many other books are bought, but not read through: Eco's Name of the Rose, even Walden, which I consider a dipper's book, filled with great essays, but for that reason, a wall after a fence after a hurdle. ( )
2 vote AlanWPowers | Apr 25, 2019 |
The officer surveyed me sharply. I felt like a squashed caterpillar oozing in the dust, a creature that could not harm anyone yet aroused loathing and disgust. In the presence of such a resplendent being, armed in all the symbols of might and majesty, I was genuinely ashamed of my appearance. I had nothing against his killing me.

Much as Nietzsche detonated a shaped charge and blew away all hope of a totalizing meta-narrative, it was books like The Painted Bird which left me ashamed, almost permanently. I don't harbor much hope of a recovery. Kosiński left us a catalog of horror. Hope and Justice appear cheaply broacaded within. I still think about the phone ringing at the end of the novel. ( )
1 vote jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
This novel was okay, but I don't really understand why it was included in Time's Top 100 Novels list. I don't believe that it merits that position. The prose is clunky, and I've read that the actual thing is entirely fictionalized rather than based on any truth-- besides the general subject matter of course. The characters felt forced and the dialogue was disjointed and rang untrue. Also, the plot was something dilly-dally and meandering from one story point to the next.

Overall, a disappointing read. ( )
  DanielSTJ | Dec 30, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jerzy Kosińskiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dillon, DianeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, LeoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Timmers, OscarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
and only God, omnipotent indeed, knew they were mammals of a different breed.
(Mayakovsky)
Dedication
To the memory of my wife Mary Hayward Weir without whom even the past would lose its meaning.
First words
In the first weeks of World War II, in the fall of 1939, a six-year-old boy from a large city in Eastern Europe was sent by his parents, like thousands of other children to the shelter of a distant village.
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Per Author's note on the reverse of the half-title, the "Modern Library edition of The Painted Bird [1970] incorporates some changes which did not appear in any previous edition."
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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HighBridge Audio

An edition of this book was published by HighBridge Audio.

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HighBridge

An edition of this book was published by HighBridge.

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