glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
home
arts
literature
social sciences
special features
discussion
about glbtq
   search

 
   Encyclopedia
   Discussion
 
 

   member name
  
   password
  
 
   
   Forgot Your Password?  
   
Not a Member Yet?  
   
JOIN TODAY. IT'S FREE!

 
  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy
  Copyright

 

 

 

 

 
literature

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-B  C-E  F-L  M-Z

     
Bowles, Paul (1910-1999)  

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

Bowles was born in New York on December 30, 1910. His father was a dentist who exhibited little warmth for his son; an inflexible man, he evoked responses of passive resistance and secrecy, characteristics that would mark Paul's life and writing. As a boy, Bowles had few friends and took refuge in fantasy writing. He matriculated at the University of Virginia, but academic life did not interest him, and he left for Paris abruptly in 1929. Although he soon returned to New York, from 1931 onward he would spend most of his life outside the United States.

Sponsor Message.

Bowles's literary reputation rests on his novels, but until he was thirty-five he showed more interest in musical composition and poetry. Aaron Copland was a mentor, and in France, he intrigued Gertrude Stein, though she thought he was no poet. But Bowles was gifted in a number of fields, and increasingly he spread his skills over several: music for plays and films, short stories, autobiography, travel writing, and translations.

In childhood, Bowles was fond of a homosexual uncle. During one stay-over with him, he happened to enter a room where men were dancing intimately together. His uncle's anger at his nephew hurt Bowles, who had not been alarmed at this sight, and the incident suggests Bowles's attitude to different sexual behavior: He liked to examine sexuality from a dispassionate perspective for its psychological suggestiveness. Such is the case in his most explicitly homosexual story, "Pages from Cold Point" (1947), in which a boy tries to seduce his father.

"Pages from Cold Point" marked a turning point in Bowles's life. In 1938, he had married Jane Auer, and in 1947, they went to live in Tangier. Jane Bowles had published Two Serious Ladies, and explored gay relationships in both her life and in her fiction.

Paul Bowles explored the psychological dimensions of relationships less directly, and many readers prefer to interpret his ground-breaking novel The Sheltering Sky (1949) in existentialist terms, even though it deals centrally with the extraordinary dynamic of his relationship with Jane--a dynamic to which the homosexuality of both is relevant.

With the arrival of the Bowleses, the Tangier cult developed rapidly. American writers and artists of the Beat Generation--William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, and others--visited and socialized; the ambience of Tangier, as well as its toleration of experiments in drug use and sexual expression proved liberating and stimulating.

Jane Bowles, always on the edge of sexual scandal, died in 1973. Paul Bowles, though he continued to attract interesting figures and, in his discreet way, a cult following, was very stable, and continued to produce a stream of work until his death in 1999.

His translation work started with the Sartre classic No Exit (1958) but became more significant with his translations of previously unknown works by Moroccan writers Mohammed Mrabet, Mohamed Choukri and, subsequently, others.

Bowles's self-containment is signaled in his response to Christopher Sawyer-Laucanno's biography, which he attacked as being based on the testimony of "certain mischievous gossips." It should, however, be noted that several other texts about Tangier, its status as a cult-site, and Paul and Jane Bowles are even more "gossipy."

Patrick Holland

     

    
 interact  
   
Contact Us
 
Join the Discussion
 
 find 
   
Related Entries
 
More Entries by this contributor
 
A Bibliography on this Topic

 
Citation Information
 
More Entries about Literature
 
   
spacer
Popular Topics:

Literature

 
Williams, Tennessee
Williams, Tennessee


Literary Theory: Gay, Lesbian, and Queer


The Harlem Renaissance
The Harlem Renaissance


Romantic Friendship: Female
Romantic Friendship: Female


Feminist Literary Theory


American Literature: Gay Male, 1900-1969
American Literature: Gay Male, 1900-1969


Erotica and Pornography
Erotica and Pornography


Mishima, Yukio
Mishima, Yukio


Sadomasochistic Literature


Beat Generation
Beat Generation

 
 


   Related Entries
  
literature >> Overview:  American Literature: Gay Male, 1900-1969

Although largely invisible to the general public, a large body of twentieth-century gay male literature by American authors was published prior to Stonewall, some of it positive but most of it tinged with misery or bleakness as the price of being published and disseminated.

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:  Beat Generation

The writers of the Beat Generation, many of whom were gay or bisexual, endorsed gay rights as a part of their rebellion against inhibition and self-censorship.

literature >> Overview:  Bisexual Literature

Although Western culture's reliance upon binary systems of classification and identification has meant the practical erasure of bisexuality, as such, from literary and cultural analysis, bisexual experiences appear in many literary works from ancient times to the present.

literature >> Bowles, Jane Auer

American novelist, playwright, and short story writer Jane Bowles spent her life examining lesbian identity with an honest and sardonic wit.

literature >> Burroughs, William S.

Both in his life and his novels, American writer William S. Burroughs was an outlaw and a provocateur, focusing on sexual repression as the fundamental element of social control and writing in a surrealistic and bitterly satirical mode.

literature >> Capote, Truman

Truman Capote's fiction and autobiographical works helped establish what might be called the quintessential homosexual writing style of the 1950s and 1960s.

arts >> Copland, Aaron

Despite his outsider status as a Jewish homosexual, Aaron Copland composed a significant number of musical works that embody the idea of American history, struggle, and courage.

literature >> Ginsberg, Allen

The forthrightly gay Allen Ginsberg is probably the best-known American poet to emerge in the post-World War II period.

literature >> Lehmann, John

One of the most distinguished and discerning British men of letters of the mid-twentieth century, John Lehmann is best known as an editor and publisher.

literature >> Roditi, Edouard

Poet, translator, literary and art critic, and short story writer, Edouard Roditi was associated with most of the twentieth-century's avant-garde literary movements from Surrealism to post-modernism.

literature >> Schuyler, James

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet James Schuyler, a prominent member of the New York School of poets and painters, wrote openly about his homosexuality.

literature >> Stein, Gertrude

In addition to becoming--with Alice B. Toklas--half of an iconic lesbian couple, Gertrude Stein was an important innovator and transformer of the English language.

literature >> Williams, Tennessee

Conflicted over his own sexuality, Tennessee Williams wrote directly about homosexuality only in his short stories, his poetry, and his late plays.


    Bibliography
   

Finlayson, Iain. Tangier: City of the Dream. London: Harper Collins, 1992.

Green, Michelle. The Dream at the End of the World: Paul Bowles and the Literary Renegades in Tangier. New York: Harper Collins, 1991.

Sawyer-Laucanno, Christopher. Paul Bowles: An Invisible Spectator. New York: The Ecco Press, 1990.

"Authorized Paul Bowles Website." www.paulbowles.org.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Holland, Patrick  
    Entry Title: Bowles, Paul  
    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_p.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  
 

 

This Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates

www.glbtq.com is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.