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literature

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Bowles, Jane Auer (1917-1973)  
 
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"Plain Pleasures" and "A Stick of Green Candy" feature men as catalysts of destruction. In "Plain Pleasures," the widowed Mrs. Perry agrees to meet her neighbor, Mr. Drake, for dinner but, once seated, she mocks his romanticism and rejects his marriage proposal. She runs upstairs and, sitting in the vacant bedroom, recognizes the essential absurdity of existence. Her rape by the lecherous restaurant owner and the loss of Mr. Drake's friendship cannot diminish her insight.

"A Green Stick of Candy" concerns prepubescent Mary, who has her sense of self destroyed when a boy violates her clay pit where she has constructed a world. In this clay pit, she is a general, but she perceives herself as a weaker figure when her father ignores her loss.

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Another set of stories explore lesbian space. In "Everything is Nice" and "East Side: North Africa," Bowles describes the games played by the women in the Moroccan markets. Writing of her relationship with Cherfia--a Moroccan lesbian who was both her lover and longtime companion--Bowles finds pleasures in these dramas of misunderstandings as she celebrates the world of Morocco.

"Camp Cataract" describes the longings of Sadie who seeks an unconditional love with her sister Harriet, who has rejected her. Obsessed with Harriet, Sadie follows her to the retreat where Harriet has sought solitude. At the camp's waterfall, Sadie undergoes the author's signature revelation scene: She recognizes herself and Harriet as one and as nothing and then commits suicide as a sacrifice to Harriet.

Bowles's recording of her particular vision of the world was halted only when she grew too blind to write. In her obituary in The New York Times, John Ashbery proclaimed her to be "one of the finest writers of fiction" despite her lack of recognition by the literary establishment--an evaluation that she would no doubt have considered suitably ironic.

Amy Gilley

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literature >> Overview:  American Literature: Lesbian, 1900-1969

American lesbian literature prior to Stonewall exploited the "outlaw" status of the lesbian as it moved from encrypted strategies of expression to overt political celebrations of woman-for-woman passion.

literature >> Overview:  American Writers on the Left

Most gay, lesbian, and bisexual American writers who adhered to Marxist-oriented parties and social movements between 1917 and the 1960s strove to hide their sexual orientation, and some even depicted homosexuals negatively in their fiction and drama.

literature >> Overview:  Camp

Combining elements of incongruity, theatricality, and exaggeration, camp is a form of humor that helps homosexuals cope with a hostile environment.

literature >> Ashbery, John

John Ashbery, one of the leading contemporary American poets, avoids explicit gay content in his poetry, but his work shares concerns with other late twentieth-century gay writing.

literature >> Barnes, Djuna

American novelist Djuna Barnes sought new forms of self-representation of lesbians in the face of society's compulsory heterosexuality.

literature >> Bowles, Paul

Gay American expatriate composer, writer, and translator Paul Bowles liked to examine sexuality from a dispassionate perspective for its psychological suggestiveness.


    Bibliography
   

Bassett, Mark T. "Imagination, Control and Betrayal in Jane Bowles' 'A Stick of Green Candy'." Studies in Short Fiction, 24:1 (1987): 25-29.

Dillon, Millicent. A Little Original Sin: The Life and Works of Jane Bowles. New York: Holt, 1981.

_____. "Jane Bowles: Experiment as Character." Breaking the Sequence: Women's Experimental Fiction. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989. 140-147.

Knopf, Marcy Jane. "Bi-nary Bi-Sexuality: Jane Bowles' Two Serious Ladies." Representing Bisexualities: Subjects and Cultures of Fluid Desire. Donald E. Hall and Maria Pramaggiore, eds. New York: New York University Press, 1996. 142-164.

Lakritz, Andrew M. "Jane Bowles's Other World." Old Maids to Radical Spinsters: Unmarried Women in the Twentieth Century Novel. Laura L. Doan, ed. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991. 213-214.

Lougy, Robert. "The World and Art of Jane Bowles (1917-1973)." CEA Critic. 49: 2-4 (1986-1987): 157-173.

"Authorized Paul Bowles Website." www.paulbowles.org/janebowles.html.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Gilley, Amy  
    Entry Title: Bowles, Jane Auer  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated May 5, 2005  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/literature/bowles_ja.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates  
 

 

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