Special Collections Department
PAUL BOWLES, 1910 - 1999
|Because his fiction was often based in exotic
locales where he personally had traveled, and with strong character resemblances
to himself and his wife, such as Port and Kit Moresby in The Sheltering
Sky, Bowles was often asked if his writing was autobiographical.
In a 1982 interview with David Seidner, Bowles replied, "No. No. I mean
one writes what one writes, one doesn't decide what to write, one writes
what comes out. What ever one writes is in a sense autobiographical, of
course. Not factually so, but poetically so." On other occasions, Bowles
made reference to "memory writing," and experiments with automatic writing,
sometimes using the momentum of kif-induced concentration; so the importance
of subconsciously personal details is an important element in his fiction.
But Paul Bowles also produced more deliberate
and traditional forms of autobiographical or life writing, including
diaries, letters, conversations and interviews, essays, and photographic
collections. Bowles's travel writing, self-revealing in observations
and opinions, is extensive enough that it is presented separately in
this exhibition and catalog.
But Paul Bowles also produced more deliberate and traditional forms of autobiographical or life writing, including diaries, letters, conversations and interviews, essays, and photographic collections. Bowles's travel writing, self-revealing in observations and opinions, is extensive enough that it is presented separately in this exhibition and catalog.
William S. Burroughs suggested, only partially in jest, that Bowles's 1972 autobiography Without Stopping should have been titled "Without Telling." It is a frenetic account of world travels over four decades, filled with names of prominent musicians, writers, theater folk, and famous people in general. Bowles claimed the work was written hurriedly, to reach the publisher's deadline, after spending nearly a year reconstructing the events and voyages of his life. Bowles further claimed that he never would have undertaken the project had he not needed the money to care for Jane Bowles, who was hospitalized in Spain. The most personal, and frankly emotional, part of the book is the opening few chapters about Bowles's relationship with his parents and his childhood memories. Bowles's personal reserve makes only more valuable the variant genres of his life writing in the collections at the University of Delaware Library: the diaries, the letters, and especially the numerous conversations and interviews with scholars, journalists, documentary filmmakers, musicologists, and others who pursued him in the 1980s and 1990s are sources that capture incidental details and opinions which reveal a bit more of the man.
The 1999 addition to the Paul Bowles papers yielded a small pocket notebook dating from Bowles's visit to Thailand in 1966. The notebook contains a draft of the first two paragraphs from Without Stopping, a memory from the age of four in which Bowles describes a precise, certain consciousness of who he was, in time and place. It is an interesting association of a word ("mug") and a sound (the clock striking four) and a sense of place (away from his home, at his uncle's house), a striking memory of detached, objective realization with characteristics often applied to the work of the future composer and author.
Life Writing: Items in the Exhibition
99a. "Kneeling on a chair and clutching the gilded
top rung of the back ... ," in an autograph pocket notebook, , ca.
99b. [Without Stopping]. Typescript (copy) and typescript manuscript with autograph revisions in Bowles's hand, n.d., ca. 400 pp.
100. Tantos caminhos: Autobiografia de Paul
Bowles. Tradução Hildegard Feist. São Paulo: Martins Fontes, 1994.
101. "An Open Letter to Those Interested in Surviving
the Coming Decade." Typescript with extensive autograph additions and
revisions, , 5 pp.
| 12, 1980), and
later in Antaeus 38 (Summer 1980), pp. 170-173.
102a. "In the Red Room." Typescript photocopy copy with the author's extensive autograph corrections, n.d., 12 pp.
102b. "In the Red Room." Typescript with minor
autograph corrections, n.d., 12 pp.
revised as Bowles changed the narrative voice from third person for the main character Gil to first person "I," dropping all pretense that the story was not about him and his own parents' visit to his home at Taprobane, off the coast of Sri Lanka, in Weligama Bay.
102c. "Taprobane," photograph by Eberhard Hahne, 1989.
102d. In the Red Room. Los Angeles, Calif.:
Sylvester & Orphanos, 1981.
103. Two Years Beside the Strait: Tangier Journal, 1987-1989. London: Peter Owen, 1990. Publisher's publicity sheet laid in.
104. Days: Tangier Journal, 1987-1989.
New York: Ecco Press, .
105a. Días. Typed manuscript (copy), n.d., 60 pp., with typed letter signed, Mario Lacruz to Paul Bowles, March 31, 1993, 1 p.
105b. "Paul Bowles with ensemble of Master Musicians
of Jajouka," photograph by Suomi La Valle, [August 1989].
105c. Días y Viajes. Traducción de Días
de Ana M. de la Fuente; traducción de Viajes de Rodrigo Rey Rosa.
Barcelona: Editorial Seix Barral, .
106. My Tangier, photographs by Daniel
Blaufuks, text by Paul Bowles. Lisboa: Difusão Cultural, 1991.
107. Conversations with Paul Bowles, edited by Gena Dagel Caponi. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1993.
Caponi's collected Bowles interviews span the
dates 1952 to<1990, representing engaging
conversations with the composer/author conducted by reviewers and critics,
editors, documentary filmmakers, journalists, students, scholars, and
108a. In Touch: the Letters of Paul Bowles. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1993. Uncorrected proof. Cover stamped "Unrevised uncorrected proofs, Jan. 1994."
108b. In Touch: the Letters of Paul Bowles,
edited by Jeffrey Miller. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, .
109. Paul Bowles Photographs: How Could I Send
a Picture into the Desert?, edited by Simon Bischoff in collaboration
with the Swiss Foundation for Photography. Zurich and New York: Scalo
110. "Ira Cohen Conversation with Paul Bowles - Minbad Sinbad - Didier Devillez Editeur."
Bound galley proof, "14/05/1997," 99 pp.
111a. Dear Paul, Dear Ned: the Correspondence of Paul Bowles and Ned Rorem. [North Pomfret, Vt.]: Elysium Press, 1997.
111b. Ned Rorem to Paul Bowles, typed letter signed,
June 20, 1997.
112. Desultory Correspondence = Sporadische
Korrespondenz: an Interview with Paul Bowles on Gertrude Stein, by
Florian Vetsch, with photographs by Vittorio Santoro. Zurich: Memory/Cage
Editions, 1997. Bilingual edition.
|money and the Roosevelt administration. Stein responded in yet another published article, not naming Bowles, but identifying him as a young man, representative of "The young people in American [who] do not want to have to think for themselves, they want a leader who will think for them." Bowles never saw Stein after that exchange.|
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