Top 50 Charles Bukowski quotes that will challenge your mind

Top 50 Charles Bukowski quotes that will challenge your mind

Charles Bukowski was a renowned American novelist, poet, and short-story writer. He captivated audiences with his raw, unapologetic prose and poetry. His words can shake you to the core, prompting introspection and questioning societal norms. Explore the most thought-provoking Bukowski quotes.

Bukowski quotes
Charles Bukowski’s work delves into the complexities of life, love, and struggle. Photo: Ulf Andersen (modified by author)
Source: UGC


Bukowski's work explores the rollercoaster of human relationships, the mundane lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, the essence of alcoholics, relationships with women, and the struggle of work. Charles Bukowski's quotes delve into the depths of despair and the fiery spirit of resilience.

Charles Bukowski quotes

Bukowski's quotes reflect on a journey into the depths of human experience that transcends time and resonates with those willing to face life's complexities head-on. Here is a list of the most famous Charles Bukowski quotes about happiness, life, death, cats, and loneliness.

Famous Charles Bukowski quotes

What is the most famous Charles Bukowski quote? There are plenty of quotes by Bukowski that are widely recognised. Here is a list of the most popular and inspirational quotes on various aspects of life.

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  • I wasn’t much for a petty thief. I wanted the whole world or nothing.
  • I don’t hate people, I just feel better when they’re not around.
  • If you have the ability to love, love yourself first.
  • If you're losing your soul, and you know it, then you've still got a soul left to lose.
  • Love is a form of prejudice. You love what you need, you love what makes you feel good, you love what is convenient. How can you say you love one person when there are ten thousand people in the world that you would love more if you ever met them? But you'll never meet them.
  • The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it. Basically, because you feel good—very good when you are near or with them.
  • People run from rain but sit in bathtubs full of water.
  • I guess the only time most people think about injustice is when it happens to them.
  • An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.
  • Find what you love and let it kill you.

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Charles Bukowski quotes about life

Bukowski had a passionate approach towards life. Here are some of his powerful quotes about human experiences and life complexities.

Charles Bukowski quotes about life
Charles Bukowski's quotes about life expound on human conditions. Photo:, @pixabay (modified by author)
Source: UGC
  • I wasn't lonely; I experienced no self-pity; I was just caught up in a life in which I could find no meaning.
  • You have to die a few times before you can really live.
  • Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.
  • My heart is a thousand years old. I am not like other people.
  • Your life is your life. Don't let it be clubbed into dank submission. Be on the watch. There are ways out. There is a light somewhere. It may not be much light, but it beats the darkness.
  • There will always be something to ruin our lives, it all depends on what or which finds us first. We are always ripe and ready to be taken.
  • The nine-to-five is one of the greatest atrocities sprung upon mankind. You give your life away to a function that doesn’t interest you.
  • Nobody can save you but yourself, and you're worth saving. It's a war not easily won, but if anything is worth winning, then this is it.

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Charles Bukowski quotes on death

Death has always fascinated philosophers and poets alike with its inevitability and mystery. His profound quotes about death offer insight into his distinct perspective on the ultimate unknown.

Charles Bukowski quotes about death
Charles Bukowski's quotes about death expound on the nature of death. Photo:, @rdne-stock-project (modified by author)
Source: UGC
  • What is terrible is not death but the lives people live or don’t live up until their death.
  • I carry death in my left pocket. Sometimes I take it out and talk to it: "Hello, baby, how you doing? When are you coming for me? I'll be ready.
  • We're all going to die, all of us; what a circus! That alone should make us love each other, but it doesn't. We are terrorised and flattened by trivialities; we are eaten up by nothing.
  • Love is not a candle burning down. Life is. And love and life are not the same or else love, having choice, nobody would ever die.
  • They disgust me—the way they wait for death with as much passion as a traffic signal.
  • Death is nothing, brother. It’s life that’s hard.
  • The best often die by their own hand just to get away, and those left behind can never quite understand why anybody would ever want to get away from them.
  • Hello, death. But I've had almost six decades. I've given you so many clean shots at me what I should have been yours long ago. I want to be buried near the racetrack… where I can hear the stretch run.

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Charles Bukowski quotes on loneliness

Loneliness is a universal human experience that often prompts reflection and soul-searching. Bukowski's quotes shed light on the complexities of loneliness and how it impacts human experiences.

Charles Bukowski quotes on loneliness
Loneliness evokes soul-searching. Photo:, @keenan-constance (modified by author)
Source: UGC
  • If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.
  • I am going to die alone just the way I live.
  • Being alone never felt right. Sometimes, it felt good, but it never felt right.
  • Real loneliness is not necessarily limited to when you are alone.
  • There is loneliness in this world so great that you can see it in the slow movement of a clock’s hand.
  • Beware of those who seek constant crowds; they are nothing alone.
  • Show me a man who lives alone and has a perpetually clean kitchen, and 8 times out of 9, I'll show you a man with detestable spiritual qualities.
  • I wasn’t lonely. I experienced no self-pity. I was just caught up in a life in which I could find no meaning.
  • I often stood in front of the mirror alone, wondering how ugly a person could get.

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Charles Bukowski quotes about happiness

Charles Bukowski's quotes on happiness invite readers to reconsider their perceptions of joy and fulfilment. He insists that happiness is not a destination to be reached but a journey that must be undertaken with authenticity and courage.

Charles Bukowski quotes on happiness
Charles Bukowski's quotes on happiness inspire readers to embrace the little joys. Photo:, @antonius-ferret (modified by author)
Source: UGC
  • We don’t even ask for happiness, just a little less pain.
  • That's the problem with drinking, I thought as I poured myself a drink. If something bad happens, you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens, you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens, you drink to make something happen.
  • Anything is a waste of time unless you are creating well, getting well or looming toward a kind of phantom love happiness.
  • Sometimes, you climb out of bed in the morning, and you think, I'm not going to make it, but you laugh inside, remembering all the times you've felt that way.
  • We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state and our educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us.
  • Turgenev was a very serious fellow but he could make me laugh because a truth first encountered can be very funny. When someone else's truth is the same as your truth, and he seems to be saying it just for you, that's great.
  • While your enthusiasm is great to see, perhaps you're overdoing it with the wholesale copy and pasting of quotes from other quote sites huh? Posting a quote every now and then as you read the books makes sense, but posting en masse like this is a bit pointless.

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Bukowski quotes about cats

Bukowski had a profound affection for cats, which often found its way into his work. Through his poignant and sometimes humorous observations, his remarks about cats reveal his tender side.

Bukowski quotes on cats
Bukowski made insightful remarks on cats. Photo:, @evg-kowalievska (modified by author)
Source: UGC
  • The cat is the beautiful devil.
  • The more cats you have, the longer you live. If you have a hundred cats, you’ll live 10 times longer than if you have 10. Someday, this will be discovered, and people will have a thousand cats and live forever. It’s truly ridiculous.
  • Having a bunch of cats around is good. If you're feeling bad, just look at the cats, you'll feel better, because they know that everything is, just as it is.
  • I don't like love as a command, as a search. It must come to you like a hungry cat at the door.
  • When I am feeling low, all I have to do is watch my cats and my courage returns. I study these creatures; they are my teachers.
  • TV can make me ill in five minutes, but I can look at an animal for hours and find nothing but grace and glory, life as it should be.
  • I walked up the driveway. The cats were sprawled about, pooped. In my next life, I want to be a cat. To sleep 20 hours a day and wait to be fed... Humans are too miserable and angry, and single-minded.
  • Warm light alone tonight in this house, alone with 6 cats who tell me without effort all that there is to know.

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Charles Bukowski's enduring popularity can be attributed to his relatable themes, authenticity, dark humour, rebel spirit, and literary craftsmanship. Despite his controversial persona and tumultuous life, his work resonates with readers worldwide, offering an unfiltered glimpse into the human experience.

Why did Charles Bukowski say, 'Don't try'?

After achieving global recognition, his counsel to other writers seeking literary achievement was so concise that it rattles in the space on his headstone where it is engraved: "Don't Try." Charles emphasised the importance of personal expression over fame. He insisted that writing should burst out without coercion or commercial ambition. You don't try.

Charles Bukowski's quotes continue challenging and inspiring readers with their raw honesty and profound insights. From reflections on death and loneliness to musings on life and happiness, Bukowski's words encourage introspection, pushing readers to confront life's complexities with authenticity and boldness.

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