Paul Bowles

Paul Bowles: (1910-1999) American writer and composer. Born in Queens, New York, Bowles fled America at the age of eighteen to live in Paris. His early mentors Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas advised him to travel in order to develop as an artist. Bowles went on to exhaustively explore the issues that arise when modern Westerners confront non-Western cultures. Bowles first gained attention as a composer, studying with Aaron Copland and Virgil Thompson and producing scores for work by Tennessee Williams and Orson Welles. He is best known, however, for his first two books, The Sheltering Sky (1949), a novel, and the short-story collection The Delicate Prey and Other Stories (1950), which introduced his central theme: the disintegration of developed Western culture as it encounters more primitive societies and a less mediated natural world. Bowles is also highly regarded for his translation of North African tribal tales and his poetry. Sympathetic critics have praised his work as a powerful encapsulation of existentialism, while others have found it repetitious and stunted in development.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

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