*FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Originally published in , The Painted Bird established Jerzy Kosinski as a major literary figure. Kosinski’s story follows . Kosinski’s tales of wartime Poland made, and unmade, his reputation. Kosinski turned those stories into his first novel, “The Painted Bird”. For all intents and purposes, Jerzy Kosinski was on the fast track for fame under fire with the publication of his third novel, The Painted Bird.
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It was learning that there was some element of truth in this savage book about the human condition that put it at the top of my most-recommended list. That may be why the Afterword I read was later replaced by another Afterword, written by Kosinski himself. However, parts of that Afterword have also been called into doubt.
And now, whether for that reason or another, the current edition of The Painted Bird contains no Afterword whatsoever. They are, in order:. The Afterword that Kosinski wrote to the edition of the book, which contains a supposedly true story that seems pretty far-fetched. If anyone has a copy or a link to a copy of this Afterword, please let me know in the Comments section below.
I will include that document here shortly. In the meantime, as soon as you finish The Painted Birdread these postscripts, preserved here for posterity:. The story of the boy, the Painted Bird of this book, does not end with his regaining the power of speech.
He had become part of the society in which he found himself. It was against the pattern of his acquired habits at first, to cast off his feathers and to adjust to the increasing near-normality of postwar conditions. But he soon became aware that the past few years had almost been ones of good fortune.
As the months passed, he realized that the peasants of the villages had not acted as cruelly or as brutally as he had once thought. Their actions had been governed by the traditions and beliefs of generations of forebears, whose fear of strangers — all too often invading armies — was indeed justified.
The harshness of life and the tool of the religious and political persecutions throughout the centuries had engendered lasting suspicious, and the exactions of the German occupation had drained off any charity that might have been shown to an outsider. He came to accept that the peasants were hardly more cruel that any others of their kind and condition. Environment had quite naturally dominated behavior.
The olive skin, the dark hair, and the black eyes which aroused fear in the rural communities would have been a passport to death in the German-occupied cities. The criteria by which Semitic origins were established were very simple.
In any mass roundup in the streets or squares the most casual glance at dark-toned or aquiline features could be enough. A barked order, a gesture with a bayonet, death. Perhaps, more simply, he would have been one more unmourned corpse on a street of a bomb-blasted city.
Entire communities in almost every city of Eastern Europe suffered these kinds of death. They were deaths steeped in horror, and delivered by technicians in mass murder, the trained servants of an ideology of which genocide was a foundation.
The random dangers of the forest seemed almost minimal compared to the fearful conspiracies within the cities. But however terrible the destruction wrought by way might be, however grim the blasted cities and ravaged countryside, the thoughts and energy of people are tied to their hopes of the future, rather than to their losses in the past.
No longer alone, the youth, the increasingly involved in the groups around him, slowly lost the feeling of isolation and defensiveness which had previously so dominated him. This was not to last. Involvement in collective society became more and more forced. Coercive measures trimmed away the vestigial edges of personal freedom. Relentless supervision curtailed every individual action.
This placed a double burden on the youth. During the war years his powers of self-dependence had increased enormously, and the maintenance of personal freedom had been the goal to which he had given all his intelligence and energy.
Previously, while living in the forest villages, the boy had been set apart from others by his physical dissimilarity; now, as a young man in collective society, he was set apart by differences of his way of thinking. The experiences of the way years made him unable to conform to the patterns of though and behavior demanded by collective society.
Again, he was the outsider, the Painted Bird. Trapped thus in the unyielding meshes of this rigid way of life, the young man realized, paradoxically, that he had been virtually free within the forests and villages, that within the limits of his own determination and skill he could escape from situations that threatened to curtail or end his independence.
In his new environment the very means of altering the circumstances were the subject of the strictest controls.
The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosiński
The only escape from such pressure and limitation was flight, a journey across an ocean and beyond the confines of a continent where no wings could be spread. In this flight the Painted Bird again became himself. Jerzy Kosinski has lived through — and now makes use of — some of the strongest direct experience that this century has had to offer.
He was born in Poland. During the war, sent by his parents to the safety of his foster parent in a distant village, he eventually found himself fleeing alone from place to place, working as a farm hand, gaining his knowledge of nature, animal life — and survival. At the age of nine, in a traumatic confrontation with a hostile crowd, he lost the power of speech. After the way, reunited with his ailing parents he regained his voice in a kosonski accident.
During his studies at the state-controlled Stalinist college and university in Poland he was suspended twice and often threatened with expulsion for his rejection of the official Marxist doctrine. Attempting to free himself from state-imposed collectivity, he would spend winters as a ski instructor in the Tatra Mountains, and summers as a social counselor at a Baltic sea resort. Meanwhile, secretly, he plotted his escape. A kosinsk master of bureaucratic judo, Kosinski pitted himself against the State, which had already refused to grant kosiski and his parents permission to emigrate to the West.
In need of official sponsors, and reluctant to implicate his family, his friends and the academy staff, he created four distinguished — but fictitious — members of the Academy of Sciences to act in that capacity. While waiting for his U. His punishment, had he been caught, would have been many years in prison.
In Decemberfollowing what he still considers the singularly creative act of his life, Kosinski arrived in New York able to — as a result of his sociological studies — read and write English without any difficulty, though only with a rudimentary knowledge of spoken American idiom.
He started his life in the United States as a part-time truck driver, moonlighting as a parking lot attendant, a cinema projectionist, a photographer, and a driver for a black nightclub entrepreneur.
Studying English whenever he could, he perfected it well enough to enroll as a Ph. Two years later, as a student of social psychology, he wrote The Future Is Ours, Comrade, a collection of essays on collective behavior — the first of his two nonfiction studies.
He was firmly set on a writing career. After his publishing debut he met Mary Weir, the widow of a steel magnate from Pittsburgh. During the years with Mary Weir which ended with her death Kosinski moved with utmost familiarity in the world of heavy industry, big business and high society.
He and Mary traveled a great deal — there were a private plane, a multi-crew boat, and homes and vacation retreats in Pittsburgh, New York, Hobe Sound, Southampton, Paris, London and Florence. He led a life most novelists only invent in the pages of their novels. At first, I considered writing a novel about my immediate American experience, the dimension of wealth, power and high society that surrounded me. But during my marriage I was too much a part of that world to extract from it the nucleus of what I felt.
This novel, The Painted Bird, was my gift to Mary, and to my new world. Translated into many languages, his novels have earned Kosinski the status of an international underground culture hero, accompanied by official recognition: While Kosinski was constantly on the move, living and writing in various parts of the United States, Europe and Latin America, tragedy persisted in his life.
Unable to catch the connecting flight to Los Angeles, Kosinski reluctantly stayed overnight in New York. He left university life when he was elected president of the American P. Reelected, after serving the maximum two terms, a special resolution of the Board of P. He is proud to have been responsible for freeing from prisons, helping financially, resettling or otherwise giving assistance to a great number of writers, political and religious dissidents and intellectuals all over the world, many of vird openly acknowledged his coming to their rescue.
He was often labeled and criticized by the media as an existential cowboy, a Horatio Alger of the nightmare, a penultimate gamesman, the utterly portable man and a mixture of adventurer and social reformer.
In an interview for Psychology Today, Kosinski said: Not much else stimulates me — and nothing interests me more. Traveling extensively, on an average Kosinski wakes up around 8 Kosjnski. Four more hours of sleep in the afternoon allows him to remain mentally and physically active until the early dawn when he retires. This pattern, he claims, benefits his reading and writing, his photography, and practicing of the sports he has favored for years — downhill skiing and polo, which as an avid all-around horseman, he plays on a team — or one-on-one.
As I have no children, no family, no relatives, no business or estate to speak of, my books are my only spiritual accomplishment. Giving to himself as well as to the reader the bigd chance for interpretation, he traces the truth in the deepest corners of our outdoor and indoor lives, of our outer appearance and our inner reality.
He moves the borderline of writing to more remote, still invisible and untouchable poles, in cold and kozinski darkness. Doing so, he enlarges the borders of the bearable. In the spring ofI visited Switzerland with my American-born wife, Mary. We had vacationed there before, but were now in the country for a different purpose: Since we expected to remain for some time, we had taken a suite in a palatial hotel that dominated the lake-front of a fashionable old resort.
Among the permanent residents at the hotel was a clique of wealthy Western Europeans who had come to the town just before the outbreak of World War II. They had all abandoned their homelands before the slaughter actually began and they never had to fight for their lives. Once ensconced in their Swiss haven, self-preservation for them meant no more than living from day to day. Most of them were in their seventies and eighties, aimless pensioners obsessively talking kosiski getting old, growing steadily less able or willing to leave the hotel grounds.
They spent their time in the lounges and restaurants or strolling through the private park. Occasionally I would chat with a few of these voluntary exiles, but whenever I alluded to the war years kosisnki Central or Eastern Europe, they never failed to remind me that, because they had come to Switzerland before the violence began, they knew the war only vaguely, through radio and newspaper reports. Referring to one country in which most of the extermination camps had been located, I pointed out that between and only a million people had died as the result of direct military action, but five and a half million had been exterminated by the invaders.
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Over three million victims were Jews, and one third of them were under sixteen. These losses worked out to two hundred and twenty deaths per thousand people, and no one would ever be able to compute how many others were mutilated, traumatized, broken in health or spirit.
My listeners nodded politely, admitting that they had always believed that reports about the camps and gas chambers had been much embellished by overwrought reporters. I assured them koainski, having spent my childhood and adolescence during the war and postwar years in Eastern Europe, I knew that real events had been far more brutal than the most bizarre fantasies.
On days when my wife kosinki confined to the clinic for treatment, I would hire a car and drive, with no destination in mind. I cruised along smartly manicured Swiss roads winding through fields which bristled with squat steel and concrete tank traps, planted during the war to impede advancing tanks. They still stood, a crumbling defense against an invasion that was never launched, as out of place and purposeless as the antiquated exiles at the hotel.
I could contact what remained of my family in Eastern Europe only through infrequent, cryptic letters, always at the mercy of the censor.