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The cold water artists’ flats of Paris’s Left Bank or the sun worshipping eccentrics of Tangier Paul Bowles imbues every piece with a deep intelligence and the acute perspective of his rich experience of the world Woven throughout are photographs fr. A book to savor At times dreamlike contemplative lovely with understated humor Much less judgmental than Paul Theroux whose writing I love but whose opinions I find abrasive and at times offensive Valuable for its mid 20th century descriptions of the destinations travel writers still visit and write about today Lovers of literary travel writing should own this

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Travels Collected Writings 1950 1993

Om the renowned author’s private archive which place him his wife the writer Jane Bowles and their many friends and compatriots in the landscapes his essays bring so vividly to lifeWith an introduction by Paul Theroux and a chronology by Daniel Halper. I was writing up on the history of Holiday magazine and saw Paul Bowles mentioned a few times I ordered this book up from the library in case there was some information about Holiday in this collection of Bowles s travel writing which included a number of articles from the magazine His writing is delicious He had one of those adventurous expat lives that most people dream about and he describes places like Morroco Tangiers Ceylon ThailandIn writing on travel literature Bowles wrote What is a travel book For me it is the story of what happened to one person in a particular place and nothing than that it does not contain a hotel and highway information lists of useful phrases statistics or hints as to what kind of clothing is needed by the intending visitor It may be that such books form a category which is doomed to extinction I hope not because there is nothing I enjoy than reading an accurate account by an intelligent writer of what happened to him away from home Bonus points also that one of my favorite curmudgeonly travel writers Paul Theroux wrote the Introduction Here he is on meeting three Thai Buddhist monks the leader of which remarked on Bowles s roomHe glanced up at me and went on talking Your room is beautiful We are not accustomed to such luxury His voice was flat he was trying to conceal his disapproval The three conferred briefly in undertones My friends say they have never seen such a luxurious room he reported watching me closely through his steel rimmed spectacles to see my reaction I failed to hear Here is Bowles on cultureIf I am faced with the decision of choosing between visiting a circus and a cathedral a cafe or a public monument or a fiesta or a museum I m afraid I shall normally take the circus the cafe and the fiesta trusting to luck that I shall manage to see the others later I suppose I m simply not what today is called culture minded Perhaps that is because to me the culture of a land at any given moment is the people who live in it and the lives they lead in it not the possessions they have inherited from those who came before

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In than forty essays and articles that range from Paris to Ceylon Thailand to Kenya and of course Morocco the great twen tieth century American writer encapsulates his long and full life and sheds light on his brilliant fiction Whether he’s recalling. Journeys With Paul BowlesAfter reading Paul Bowles famous novel The Sheltering Sky I read Let it Come Down and The Spider s House the two novels included with The Sheltering Sky in the Library of America compilation of Bowles novels I was interested in Bowles and thus turned to this volume Travels Collected Writings 2010 which offers a broader view of the author from that offered by the novels Bowles 1910 1999 an American born in ueens was an outsider and a wanderer through his long life As a young man he spent time in Europe and north Africa among other places In the middle of a career as a composer in New York City Bowles moved to Tangier in 1947 and spent the rest of his life as an expatriate He also changed his career activities to concentrate on writing than on musical compositionThe 39 travel essays in this volume show a different touch from Bowles novels Written over a 40 year period most of the essays were commissioned by magazines of the time including Holiday The Nation The American Mercury Gentleman s uarterly and Bowles wrote some of the essays as introductions to books by other writers while two of the essays are published in this collection for the first time The writing is accessible and entertaining Several of the essays are much extended that would be possible in most magazine writing of todayThe essays show a great deal of immediacy and a sharp power of description The tone of the pieces is often informal and collouial with Bowles inviting his readers along as guests The essays include substantial historical background for places many readers will find exotic and strange Several essays deal with the same place at different times and slightly different locales offering varying perspectives The essays are largely arranged in the order in which they were written The first two essays however describe Bowles early adventures as a young man in his late teens and early 20 s struggling to find his way with little money These essays present a lively picture of bohemian artistic life in the Paris between the World WarsParis is not the focus of the volume The reader of this book will travel with Bowles to the Sahara desert Spain Ceylon Turkey Kenya Thailand and India Most of all the reader will travel with Bowles to his beloved Morocco The Moroccan journeys go to places of romance in the reader s imagination including Tangier Marrakesh Casablanca and Fez There are also essays on rural life in the Moroccan hills In the late 1950s Bowles traveled over 25000 miles in Morocco to record and preserve the dying traditions of Moroccan folk music Several extended essays in this book document his efforts The book covers ancient walled cities with mysterious alleys winding streets native cafes and lively bazaars Bowles teaches the reader a great deal about the interaction between the local populations and the Europeans and he regrets the impending change to modernity He is unapologetic about his use of kif hashish and other substances In addition to towns and cities he portrays beaches large deserts mountains and oceans He tells storiesWhile most of the essays are place specific Bowles discusses his view of travel writing in some of the pieces including The Challenge to Identity first published in 1958 in The Nation Bowles writesThe subject matter of the best travel books is the conflict between writer and place It is not important which of them carries the day so long as the struggle is faithfully recorded The writer must make the decision to adhere to a scrupulous honesty in reporting Any conscious distortion is euivalent to cheating at solitaire the purpose of the game is nullified The account must be as near the truth as he can get and it seems to me the easiest way to achieve that is to aim for precision in describing his own reactions A reader can get an idea of what a place is really like only if he knows what its effects were upon someone of whose character he has some idea of whose preferences he is aware Thus it seems essential that the writer place a certain insistence upon the objective presentation of his own personality it provides an interpretative gauge with which the reader can measure for himself the relative importance of each detail like the scale of miles in the corner of a mapBowles admirably carries out his stated purpose for travel writing in the essays collected in this volumeOne of the essays I most enjoyed was Yallah which Bowles wrote as an introduction to a book of photographs of the Sahara Desert The essay captures a great deal of that strange place The final essay Paul Bowles his Life is less the story of a journey that an autobiography written in broken poetic lines This previously unpublished work offers an introduction to Bowles life thinking and wanderingsI am not likely to visit many of the places that Bowles describes or accurately the successors to these places in the 21st Century This book engaged me and put me in touch with the places and people it describes which is the character of good writing in many genres It is valuable to have Bowles travel essays collected and preserved in a single volume Readers with an interest in Bowles exotic places or simply good writing will enjoy this collectionRobin Friedman


10 thoughts on “Travels Collected Writings 1950 1993

  1. says:

    What is a travel book? For me it is the story of what happened to one person in a particular place and nothing than that; it does not contain hotel and highway information lists of useful phrases statistics or hints as to what kind of clothing is needed by the intending visitor It may be that such books form a category which is doomed to ex

  2. says:

    Journeys With Paul BowlesAfter reading Paul Bowles' famous novel The Sheltering Sky I read Let it Come Down and The Spider's House the two novels included with The Sheltering Sky in the Library of America compilat

  3. says:

    I can say that Paul Bowles is one of my favorite writers and now having read Travels Collected Writings 1950 1993 2010 I have finished reading all of his available writings This collection is mostly made up of pieces that were collected earlier in Their Heads Are Green and Their Hands Are Blue 1963 I think if there were that many pi

  4. says:

    Paul Bowles has an eye for details and a way with words that much is certain In this sad age of travel restrictions it provided me the best possible vehicle for unrestricted space and time travel The journey was great

  5. says:

    I liked the travel writing but I think enjoyed even his observations of African countries during their anti colonial period and how the political changes were shaping them Favorite uoteIf I am faced with the decis

  6. says:

    A book to savor At times dreamlike contemplative lovely with understated humor Much less judgmental than Paul Theroux whose writing I love but whose opinions I find abrasive and at times offensive Valuable for its mid 20th century descriptions

  7. says:

    I love this book it was written at a time when people made travels not tourism I hope it will enchant everyone as it did me and perhap

  8. says:

    I was writing up on the history of Holiday magazine and saw Paul Bowles mentioned a few times I ordered this book up from the library in case there was some information about Holiday in this collection of Bowles's travel writing which included

  9. says:

    FROM MY BLOG We often  travel  to seek the strange and the mysterious which sometimes means simply  seeing how other people in other cultures live their lives  American writer and musician  Paul Bowles spent

  10. says:

    In Travels Paul Bowles's writings – all penned between 1950 and 1993 – actively document his revelations and uniue understandings of art culture and the world through Ceylon Spain India France and beyond to North Africa where his writings about Tangier give gleaming evidence to his passion for the place where

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