Paul Bowles: The Illumination of North Africa

Paul Bowles: The Illumination of North Africa

Paul Bowles: The Illumination of North Africa

Paul Bowles: The Illumination of North Africa


Paul Bowles met Gertrude Stein in 1931 and became one of her most distinguished protégés. She directed him toward prose description and to Tangier, where he has lived for twenty-five years. There is no doubt that the exotic, mysterious Morocco has exerted an influence on Bowles, who has earned a distinguished reputation for compelling works of fiction revealing a profound understanding of the Moslem world.

Stewart's book on Bowles, the first on this subject, derives extensively from un published letters of Gertrude Stein and others, from interviews with Bowles, and from the novelist's unpublished notebook material.


Many of us first knew Paul Bowles (born in 1910) through his music. His original compositions have been widely published and recorded, and he has written music for plays and films, as well as two operas. But he really began as a writer, as Professor Stewart shows us in this book about Bowles: when he was only sixteen, transition published one of Bowles's poems.

He virtually gave up writing during his years of composing. In Paris in 1932, he had met Gertrude Stein, who sent him to Tangier. Eventually (after the Second World War) he bought a house there and now lives either in it or on the island near Ceylon which he owns. He has written of these places and of Latin America.

He has produced four novels and several volumes of short stories, as well as an autobiography; and he has translated books by Moroccan authors. Most of his justifies Dr.Stewart subtitle,
The Illumination of North Africa
, for it is mostly in terms of that phrase that Paul Bowles is remarkable: the fierce colors of the terrain, of its sea, and of its sky, burn in his writing. But Bowles does more than turn out travel books or merely project atmosphere; his people have the complications found in so much modern fiction, the existential running into the absurd, with some of the characters illustrating . . .

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