Painted Bird Mass Market Paperback – 1 Mar 1983
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"One of the best. . . . Written with deep sincerity and sensitivity."--Elie Wiesel, "The New York Times Book Review"
"A powerful blow on the mind because it is so carefully kept within the margins of probability and fact."--Arthur Miller
"Of all the remarkable fiction that emerged from World War II, nothing stands higher than Jerzy Kosinski's The Painted Bird. A magnificent work of art, and a celebration of the individual will. No one who reads it will be unmoved by it. The Painted Bird enriches our literature and our lives."--Jonathan Yardley, "The Miami Herald"
"Extraordinary . . . literally staggering . . . one of the most powerful books I have ever read."--Richard Kluger, "Harper's Magazine"
One of the best. . . . Written with deep sincerity and sensitivity. Elie Wiesel, "The New York Times Book Review"
A powerful blow on the mind because it is so carefully kept within the margins of probability and fact. Arthur Miller
Of all the remarkable fiction that emerged from World War II, nothing stands higher than Jerzy Kosinski s The Painted Bird. A magnificent work of art, and a celebration of the individual will. No one who reads it will be unmoved by it. The Painted Bird enriches our literature and our lives. Jonathan Yardley, "The Miami Herald"
Extraordinary . . . literally staggering . . . one of the most powerful books I have ever read. Richard Kluger, "Harper s Magazine"
" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Kosinski has received numerous awards, including the American Academy of Arts and Letters award in Literature, the National Book Award, the Best Screenplay of the Year Award, and the American Civil Liberties Union First Amendment Award. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
'The Painted Bird' depicts a journey through a very brutal and brutalising hell. There are no safe places, really, for this boy. He may have escaped with his life but he can never escape his experiences.
There are good reasons to not like this book: it is not, as has been thought, an autobiographical account of Kosiñski's own experiences. Additionally it relies on the proximity of the Holocaust to intensify its own horror; it demonises Polish peasantry as both cruel and backward; and it wallows in violence. But for all of that, it has its own haunting power.
I've first read this novel at least 20 years ago and recently revisited it. I do not like the graphic, seemingly unending violence. The point is made and reiterated: man's inhumanity to man takes many forms and vulnerability is often relative rather than absolute. Did Kosiñski really regard the world as being beyond redemption? Is that the question he was posing in this novel? Is that why he committed suicide in 1991? Did he write this novel to give voice to his own despair as a consequence of the events of World War II? For me this novel raises far more questions than it answers. And some of those questions about the author and his intent colour the way I read this novel. I cannot `hate' it: it is far too well written for that.Read more ›
Both investigate the darker regions of the human psyche. Both are the antithesis of a "picaresque" novel. Both are told from the point-of-view of a relatively innocent narrator, whose original naivete is transformed by the scenes he witnesses into an understanding of the "horror" and a comprehension of man's capacity for evil.
I read The Painted Bird over 30 years ago and many of its images still remain vivid in my imagination. I will never forget the couple caught copulating (you'll have to read Kosinski's description yourself - I'm not going to go there) and the boy-narrator's harrowing account of being thrown into a pit of excrement. Some reviews I've come across state that the book is pornographic. Far from it. The sex depicted is hardly meant to arouse. Kosinski's later work might have fallen into that category (he did a lot of short-story writing for Playboy and Penthouse), but this is far too brutal a work to be anywhere near titillating.
If you would like to take a harrowing walk into the heart of darkness, and are equipped to handle visions of one of the most depraved landscapes you are likely to encounter in literature, then this book's for you.
Kosinski himself, before his suicide, had come under attack for inventing a lot of stories about his past. It turns out that during WWII, rather than suffering the deprivations and persecution he had earlier claimed, he passed the duration of the war in middle class comfort. His personal fabrications should not influence a reader's attitude when approaching this book however. He captures the Goyaesque horror of war brilliantly and it is, after all, a work of fiction, to be judged on its own merits.
And this story is brutal and cruel indeed. Through the eyes of this abandoned child are portrayed events such as murder, rape, dismemberment, torture and bestiality. The child himself is repeatedly beaten, tortured, starved, tormented and thrown in a pit of excrement. Psychologically it is no surprise that his view of the world is confused and he looses his ability to speak. Kosinski backdrops these events with detailed accounts of the magic and folklore of the peasants that occupy the various areas in which the story takes place.
Politically, Kosinski has been criticised for his portrayal of the Red Army and the positive effects that Soviet philosophy has on his child hero. The book is however, I feel, more a survival chronicle of an individual who is fighting against huge odds. If the reader combines this novel with Slawomir Rawisz `The Long Walk' it will at least go some way to balance the portrayal of the Soviet Union in this period, as another individual fights for his unlikely survival.
The protagonists of both books survive however, and it is within this framework that they should ultimately be seen. The importance of stories such as these is that whilst the details are harrowing and as brutal as anything that you might have ever read, the ending is one of an ultimately uplifting nature.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A gritty and painful novel about a Jewish boy on the run from the Germans in World War 2 Poland.It has a lot of cruelty, violence and brutality but is a good read and quite... Read morePublished 14 months ago by clive stocks
Best and most brutal book i ever read I will recommend his books to everyonePublished 15 months ago by Marta Zdyb
This book is a lie, and a cruel one at that.
The author lived with his parents throughout the war, protected by the non-jews around him, even though they knew the treatment... Read more
I must admit to not knowing about the book or author when I bought this,but so glad I did.
A brutal and shocking story that read from page to page in lightning fast time. Read more
QUITE A HORRIFYING STORY, BUT A GREAT READ NEVERTHELESS.
WOULD RECOMMEND THIS BOOK TO ANYONE INTERESTED IN WARTIME STORIES.
If ever you thought there wre limits to human cruelty and depravity, all you need do is read this book. It is the closest thing to a tour of hell that the 20C could provide. Read morePublished on 10 Jun. 2011 by rob crawford
I couldn't decide whether to give this book 1 star, or 5 stars. The images this book conjured up still haunt me. Read morePublished on 3 April 2011 by spange17
Deeply controversial book by Konsinski. Since the Berlin Wall collapse the Polish population queued to read creating reverberations for Jerry. Read morePublished on 30 May 2010 by Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles
I got this for my mother. Started reading it, but not so keen on the style and didn't finish it.Published on 19 Sept. 2009 by S. Highfield