Item description for Paul Bowles: The Sheltering Sky/ Let It Come Down/ The Spider's House (Library of America) by Paul Bowles & Daniel Halpern...
Overview Contains the American author's first three novels, accompanied by a chronology of his life and works, notes on the texts, and a glossary.
Publishers Description Paul Bowles had already established himself as an important composer when at age 39 he published The Sheltering Sky and became recognized as one of the most powerful writers of the postwar period. From his base in Tangier he produced globally ranging novels, stories, and travel writings that set exquisite surfaces over violent undercurrents. His elegantly spare novels chart the unpredictable collisions between "civilized" exiles and a Morocco they never grasp, achieving effects of extreme horror and dislocation.
This Library of America Bowles set, the first annotated edition, offers the full range of his achievement: the portrait of an outsider who was one of the essential American writers of the last century. In addition to his novels-The Sheltering Sky (1949), Let It Come Down (1952), The Spider's House (1955), Up Above the World (1966)-and his collected stories-including such classics as "A Distant Episode" and "Pages from Cold Point"-they contain his masterpiece of travel writing, Their Heads Are Green and Their Hands Are Blue (1963). Throughout, Bowles shows himself a master of gothic terror and a diabolically funny observer of manners as well as a prescient guide to everything from the roots of Islamist politics to the world of Moghrebi music. With a hallucinatory clarity as dry and unforgiving as the desert air, Bowles sends his characters toward encounters with unknown and terrifying forces both outside them and within them.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1.25" Width: 5.25" Height: 8" Weight: 1.3 lbs.
Release Date Aug 26, 2002
Publisher Library of America
ISBN 1931082197 ISBN13 9781931082198
Availability 0 units.
More About Paul Bowles & Daniel Halpern
Paul Bowlesis a graduate of the London School of Economics and is currently affiliated with universities in China, Mexicoand Canada. He has had a long-standing interest in capitalism and its evolution, recently doing research on the issue of "globalisation." He has published widely on both globalisation and East Asian development and has also been involved in a project looking at economic reform in China.
Reviews - What do customers think about Paul Bowles: The Sheltering Sky/ Let It Come Down/ The Spider's House (Library of America)?
Bowles takes you on a trip to Morocco Nov 27, 2007
I am captivated by the observations and writing style of Bowles that both brings me into his characters and the settings of Morroco. I was also prepared for my trip to Morroco (where i am writing this from) in the sense of cultural moods and a a few phrases. I have a feeling that his writing seeped something of Morroco into me that gave me some of the confidence I needed as an american in this foreign world.
A Great Value! Mar 3, 2007
You can read the other detailed reviews, all earning 5 stars, and see why this item is ranked so highly. Three novels all in one nice, hardbound, 900+ pages volume, at a great price. I already had all three in paperback, and still ordered this book. If you love Paul Bowles as I do, or are just beginning to read his work, this is the book to buy.
Interesting, Interesting, Interesting Oct 26, 2002
This is my first exposure to the writings of Paul Bowles. What a surprise! The three novels in this edition were written in the late 1940’s to mid 1950’s. His characters are not at all dated. His writing is clear, and uncluttered. In contrasted to his writing style, are his characters who complex, murky and often compelling. I read straight through from the Sheltering Sky to Let It Come Down to The Spider’s House. He is one of the most interesting 20th century American writers. The Library of America has done a wonderful service to readers by ensuring that Paul Bowles will remain in print.
The Sheltering Sky, the first of three novels in this edition, is short, only 250 pages long. It seems to be considered his defining novel. It is about a married couple, Kit, and Port, and their sojourn into the Sahara Desert. They are dishonest with each other about many things, their shaky marriage, and the danger of the trip they have embarked on, fidelity. They cannot take charge of anything, their lives, their marriage, their trip, and even their privacy. The decisions that they make exude with bad judgement. This is exposed early on, when Porter goes off for a walk alone the city. He encounters a stranger, Smail; Port walks off with this stranger, out of the city into the desert to meet and be entertained by a young girl, who he is told is “not a [prostitute] but will want to be paid. The characters do dangerous things. You sense their doom with them. And, like them, the reader is compelled to go on. I do not want to give too many plot details as it might spoil the pleasure of reading what I think is an overlooked 20th century classic.
Let It Come Down, is about a bank clerk seeking adventure in Tangier. Like the Sheltering Sky, there is no happy ending here. You can sense the impending doom of the main character as he makes one bad decision after another. He gets involved with a local prostitute, financial intrigue, and in the end, drugs.
The Spider’s House starts with a quote from the Thousand and One Nights “To my way of thinking, there is nothing more delightful than to be a stranger. And so I mingle with human beings because they are not of my kind, and precisely in order to be a stranger among them.” In the wake of the worldwide effects of militant Islamism, this is a fascinating book to read.
The characters include two Americans. The first, Stenham, sees the French colonial rule in Morocco as destructive. He becomes attracted to Islam. The second is arrogant and contemptuous of the locals, the country, just about everything Moroccan. Each is stranger. Each sees and judges the Moroccan people, their culture, and their religion through western eyes. And so, Bowles introduces Amar, a teenage Moroccan boy, who is a direct descendent of the prophet, Mohammed. The boy is illiterate and poor, but not ignorant. The view of the world that each maintains at the beginning of the novel cannot hold. Set in a time of rebellion, there is plenty of plot to keep the characters moving along.
I highly recommend these three novels. This hard cover edition is published by the Library of America. It is the one that you will want to buy, and keep as part of your permanent library.
Finally! Oct 22, 2002
I couldn't be happier that the Library of America has released Paul Bowles' three best novels (he only wrote four) in one volume. Previously they were only available in not-so-easy to find small press editions. Hopefully this edition will make them readily available to a wider audience in volume and time.
The most striking thing about Bowles' work is its pace. It moves at a mesmerizing rate. The language is fairly simple but it plods along with a suspensful tension that never lets up even after a climatic moment. It is the kind of fiction to read next to a fountain in a courtyard.
Bowles' characters are almost always out of place, or are where they shouldn't be, or where they think they should be. They become engulfed by cultures that they don't understand not through stupidity or banality but often through the natural course of clashing cultures. Reading the books can give you a feeling of getting lost, and overcome with a feeling that you don't belong, or that you're delving into worlds you aren't prepared to delve into. This is the terror that underlies nearly all of his writing. They are cautionary tales, and they have become more relevant in the past few years since Bowles' death in 1999 (not highly publicized), and the rising relevance of Islam in and to the West.
Bowles is one of the first western writers of fiction that treats Islam equally to European society. Islam is not merely a backdrop in which his characters find fault or get ground up in (i.e., you never get the sense that Bowles is blaming the cultures themselves for the destruction of his characters, typically they are responsible, but it really isn't anybody's 'fault' per se). This is multicultural literature at its best, because it allows nastiness and goodness on all sides. Bowles is not afraid to show the dark sides of Islamic and European cultures side by side, while allowing positive aspects a place as well. He is also never racist towards either side, though some critics have accussed him of this (wrongly, in my opinion).
Bowles is an eye-opener. All three of these novels will make an impact on you and make you think about things you've never thought of before. Thanks again to the Library of America for releasing this collection. Buy it and read it.