Cover image for The sheltering sky ; Let it come down ; The spider's house
Title:
The sheltering sky ; Let it come down ; The spider's house
Author:
Bowles, Paul, 1910-1999.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Novels. Selections
Publication Information:
New York : Library of America : Distributed to the trade in the U.S. by Penguin Putnam, [2002]

©2002
Physical Description:
938 pages ; 21 cm.
Language:
English
Contents:
The sheltering sky -- Let it come down -- The spider's house.
ISBN:
9781931082198
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
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PS3552.O874 A6 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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PS3552.O874 A6 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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X Adult Fiction Classics
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On Order

Summary

Summary

Paul Bowles had already established himself as an important American composer when, at the age of thirty-eight, he published The Sheltering Sky and became widely recognized as one of the most powerful writers of the postwar period. By the time of his death in 1999 he had become a unique and legendary figure in modern literary culture. From his base in Tangier he produced novels, stories, and travel writings in which exquisite surfaces and violent undercurrents mingle.

This Library of America volume, containing his first three novels, with its companion Collected Stories and Later Writings , is the first annotated edition of Bowles's work, offering the full range of his literary achievement: the portrait of an outsider who was one of the essential American writers of the last half century.

The Sheltering Sky (1949), which remains Bowles's most celebrated work, describes the unraveling of a young, sophisticated, and adventuresome married couple as they make their way into the Sahara. In a prose style of meticulous calm and stunning visual precision, Bowles tracks Port and Kit Moresby on a journey through the desert that culminates in death and madness.

In Let It Come Down (1952), Bowles plots the doomed trajectory of Nelson Dyar, a New York bank teller who comes to Tangier in search of a different life and ends up giving in to his darkest impulses. Rich in descriptions of the corruption and decadence of the International Zone in the last days before Moroccan independence, Bowles's second novel is an alternately comic and horrific account of a descent into nihilism.

The Spider's House (1955), the longest and most complex of Bowles's novels, is set against the end of French rule in Morocco. Its characters--ranging from a Moroccan boy gifted with spiritual healing power to an American writer who regrets the passing of traditional ways--are caught up in the clash between colonial and nationalist factions, and are forced to confront cultural gulfs widened by political violence.

Bowles--who once told an interviewer, "I've always wanted to get as far as possible from the place where I was born"--charts the collisions between "civilized" exiles and unfamiliar societies that they can never really grasp. In fiction of slowly gathering menace, he achieves effects of horror and dislocation with an elegantly spare style and understated wit.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation's literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America's best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.


Author Notes

Paul Bowles had already established himself as an important American composer when, at the age of 38, he published The Sheltering Sky and became widely recognized as one of the most powerful writers of the postwar period. An American expatriate who spent most of the last five decades of his life in Tangier, he produced novels, stories, and travel writings in which exquisite surfaces and violent undercurrents mingle.


Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Though mostly associated with Tangiers, Bowles was born in Queens, NY, so his works qualify for inclusion in the Library of America. The publisher claims these are the first annotated editions of Bowles's works available. Along with the novels volume, Stories includes "The Delicate Prey," "A Hundred Camels in the Courtyard," "The Time of Friendship," "Things Gone and Things Still Here," "Their Heads Are Green and Their Hands Are Blue," among many others. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

This timely volume (published at a time when Muslim and Western cultures are again in conflict) and its companion Collected Stories and Later Writings (2002) are the definitive collection of composer-writer Paul Bowles' literary treasures. Bowles had already become a major American composer by the time he published his masterwork, The Sheltering Sky (1949), written when he was 38 and in permanent exile in Tangier. The work chronicles a married couple's journey through the Sahara to death and madness. Let It Come Down (1952) follows a New York bank clerk into the nihilism of Morocco as that country achieves independence. The Spider's House (1955) documents the end of French rule in Morocco by following the chaos experienced by an American writer and several Moroccan characters. Bowles' trademark as a novelist is his postmodern conceptualizing of fiction in terms of music (syncopation, counterpoint). All academic and public libraries will want to acquire this volume and its companion. Q. Grigg emeritus, Hamline University