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Paul Bowles Biography

(1910–86), The Sheltering Sky, Love with a Few Hairs, M'Hashish

American novelist, ‘translator’, poet, and short-story writer, born in New York, educated at the University of Virginia. A composer long before he became a writer, Bowles studied under Aaron Copland and produced three operas, four ballets, and numerous other musical compositions. He turned to literature in mid-life, publishing his first novel, The Sheltering Sky, in 1949. As a writer who has stressed the spiritual impoverishment of the West and the sustenance to be gained from encounters with the primitive, both social and psychological, and whose work deals with various forms of deviant sexuality, he has something of a cult reputation. His earlier novels are fairly conventional and demonstrate his passionate love of Arab culture—from 1952 onwards he lived in Tangier. Most of his later works are termed ‘translations’ and present themselves as transcriptions, supposedly edited from tape recordings, of the words of a young Moroccan servant, Mohammed Mrabet, with whom Bowles had a close relationship. These include Love with a Few Hairs (1967), M'Hashish (1969), The Boy Who Set the Fire (1974), and The Beach Café and The Voice (1976). Among his other writings are the novels Let It Come Down (1952), The Spider's House (1955), and Up Above the World (1966); the short stories Pages from Cold Point (1968); a collection of poems, Scenes (1968); and an autobiography, Without Stopping (1972). A biography, An Invisible Spectator, by Christopher Sawyer Laucanno, appeared in 1989.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Edward Bond (Thomas Edward Bond) Biography to Bridge