Bowles, Paul

Bowles, Paul

Bowles, Paul, 1910-99, American writer and composer, b. New York City. He studied in Paris with Virgil Thomson and Aaron Copland and composed (1930s-40s) a number of modernist operas, ballets, song cycles, and orchestral and chamber pieces. From 1947 on he lived in Tangier, Morocco. Strongly individualistic and written with an austere lack of sentimentality, his fiction is frequently set in the Arab world and often traces the corruption of innocence and the psychic disintegration of "civilized man" in a savagely primitive environment. His works include the short-story collections The Delicate Prey (1950), The Time of Friendship (1967), Collected Stories, 1939-1976 (1979), and Unwelcome Words (1988); and the novels The Sheltering Sky (1949), Up above the World (1966), and In the Red Room (1981). His 62 short stories were brought together in a 2001 collection. Bowles was also an accomplished travel writer, poet, and photographer.

See his autobiography, Without Stopping (1972); biographies by C. Sawyer-Laucanno (1989) and M. Dillon (1998); film biography, Let it Come Down (1999), by J. Baichwal; In Touch: The Letters of Paul Bowles (1994), ed. by J. Miller; Conversations with Paul Bowles (1993), ed. by G. D. Caponi; study by R. F. Patterson (1986); bibliography by J. Miller (1986).

His wife was Jane Auer Bowles, 1917-73, American writer, b. New York City. Original and idiosyncratic, her works often treat the conflict between the weak and the strong. They include the novel Two Serious Ladies (1943) and a play, In the Summer House (1954).

See her Collected Works (1978); biography by M. Dillon (1981); Out in the World: The Collected Letters of Jane Bowles (1985), ed. by M. Dillon.

(born Dec. 30, 1910, New York, N.Y., U.S.—died Nov. 18, 1999, Tangier, Mor.) U.S.-Moroccan composer, writer, and translator. Bowles studied musical composition with Aaron Copland and wrote music for more than 30 plays and films. He moved to Morocco in the 1940s. He set his best-known novel, The Sheltering Sky (1948; film, 1990), in Tangier. His protagonists, in that novel and other works, are often Westerners maimed by their contact with traditional cultures that bewilder them, and violent events and psychological collapse are recounted in a detached and elegant style. His wife, Jane Bowles (1917–73), is known for the novel Two Serious Ladies (1943) and the play In the Summer House (1953).

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