|Birth Day:||December 30, 1910|
|Death Date:||November 18, 1999|
|Birth Place:||Jamaica, United States|
As per our current Database, Paul Bowles died on November 18, 1999.
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Bowles could read at age 3 and was writing stories by age 4. Soon, he wrote surrealistic poetry and music. In 1922, at age 11, he bought his first book of poetry, Arthur Waley's A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems. At age 17, he had a poem, "Spire Song", accepted for publication in transition. This Paris-based literary journal served as a forum for leading proponents of modernism — Djuna Barnes, James Joyce, Paul Éluard, Gertrude Stein and others. Bowles' interest in music also dated from his childhood, when his father bought a phonograph and classical records. (Bowles was interested in jazz, but such records were forbidden by his father.) His family bought a piano, and the young Bowles studied musical theory, singing, and piano. When he was 15, he attended a performance of Stravinsky's The Firebird at Carnegie Hall, which made a profound impression: "Hearing The Firebird made me determined to continue improvising on the piano when my father was out of the house, and to notate my own music with an increasing degree of knowing that I had happened upon a new and exciting mode of expression."
Bowles entered the University of Virginia in 1928, where his interests included T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land, Prokofiev, Duke Ellington, Gregorian chant, and blues. He also heard music by George Antheil and Henry Cowell. In April 1929, he dropped out without informing his parents, and sailed with a one-way ticket for Paris and no intention of returning – not, he said later, running away, but "running toward something, although I didn't know what at the time." Bowles spent the next months working for the Paris Herald Tribune and developing a friendship with Tristan Tzara. By July, he returned to New York and worked at Duttons Bookshop in Manhattan, where he began work on an unfinished book of fiction, Without Stopping (not to be confused with his later autobiography of the same title).
When Bowles had first visited Tangier with Aaron Copland in 1931, they were both outsiders to what they perceived as an exotic place of different customs. They were not bound by any local rules, which varied among the many ethnic groups. Tangier was a Moroccan and international city, a longtime trading center, with a population made up of Berber, Arab, Spanish, French and other Europeans, speaking Spanish, French, Berber and Arabic, and professing a variety of religions. Politically it was under the control of a consortium of foreign powers, including the United States. Paul Bowles was entranced by the city's culture. By his return in 1947 the city had of course changed, but he still found it full of strangeness and wonder. In 1955 anti-European riots erupted as the people sought independence. In 1956 the city was returned to full Moroccan control.
In 1937, Bowles returned to New York. Over the next decade, he established a solid reputation as a composer, collaborating with Orson Welles, Tennessee Williams, and others on music for stage productions, as well as orchestral pieces.
In 1938, he married Jane Auer, an author and playwright. It was an unconventional marriage; each of their intimate relationships were with people of their own sex, but the couple maintained close personal ties with each other. During this time the couple joined the Communist Party of USA but soon left the organisation after Bowles was ejected from the party.
Bowles has frequently been featured in anthologies as a gay writer, but during his life, he always regarded such typecasting as both absurd and irrelevant. After a brief sojourn in France, the couple were prominent among the literary figures of New York throughout the 1940s. Paul Bowles also worked under Virgil Thomson, as a music critic at the New York Herald Tribune. His zarzuela The Wind Remains, based on a poem by Federico García Lorca, was performed in 1943 with choreography by Merce Cunningham and conducted by Leonard Bernstein. His translation of Jean-Paul Sartre's play Huis Clos ("No Exit"), directed by John Huston, won a Drama Critic's Award in 1943.
In 1945, Bowles began writing prose again, beginning with a few short stories including "A Distant Episode". His wife Jane, he said, was the main influence upon his taking up fiction as an adult, when she published her first novel Two Serious Ladies (1943).
In 1947, Paul Bowles received a contract for a novel from Doubleday; with the advance, he moved permanently to Tangier. Jane joined him there the next year. Bowles commented:
Bowles traveled alone into the Algerian Sahara to work on the novel. He later said, "I wrote in bed in hotels in the desert." He drew inspiration from personal experience, noting years later that, "Whatever one writes is in a sense autobiographical, of course. Not factually so, but poetically so." He titled the novel The Sheltering Sky, from a song, "Down Among the Sheltering Palms", which he had heard every summer as a child. It was first published by John Lehmann in England, in September 1949, after Doubleday rejected the manuscript.
In 1950, Bowles published his first collection of short stories. Titled A Little Stone (John Lehmann, London, August 1950), it omitted two of Bowles' most famous short stories, "Pages From Cold Point" and "The Delicate Prey." British critic Cyril Connolly and writer Somerset Maugham had advised him that if they were included in the collection, distribution and/or censorship difficulties might ensue. The American edition by Random House, The Delicate Prey and Other Stories (November 1950), did include these two stories.
While Bowles was concentrating on his career as a writer, he composed incidental music for nine plays presented by the American School of Tangier. The Bowles couple became fixtures of the American and European immigrant scene in Tangier. Visitors included Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams and Gore Vidal. The Beat writers Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and Gregory Corso followed in the mid-1950s and early 1960s. In 1951, Bowles was introduced to the Master Musicians of Jajouka, having first heard the musicians when he and Brion Gysin attended a festival, or moussem, at Sidi Kacem. Bowles described his continued association with the Master Musicians of Jajouka and their hereditary leader Bachir Attar in his book, Days: A Tangier Journal.
In 1952, Bowles bought the tiny island of Taprobane, off the coast of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). There, he wrote much of his novel The Spider's House and returned to Tangier in the warmer months. He returned to Sri Lanka most winters.
Following Virgil Thomson's retirement from his critic's post in 1954, reminiscing on his wish Paul Bowles had taken over the position, Bowles remarked, "I don't think I could have handled it, any more than I could have followed a career in composition. I lacked the musical training that [Virgil] and Aaron had."
Bowles set his third novel, The Spider's House (Random House, New York, November 1955), in Fez, immediately prior to Morocco's gaining independence and sovereignty in 1956. In it, he charted the relationships among three immigrants and a young Moroccan: John Stenham, Alain Moss, Lee Veyron, and Amar. Reviewers noted that the novel marked a departure from Bowles' earlier fiction in that it introduced a contemporary political theme, the conflict between Moroccan nationalism and French colonialism. The UK edition (Macdonald) was published in January 1957.
In 1957, Jane Bowles suffered a mild stroke, which marked the beginning of a long and painful decline in her health. Her condition preoccupied Paul Bowles until Jane's death in 1973.
In 1970, Bowles and Daniel Halpern founded the literary magazine Antaeus, which was based in Tangier. It featured many new writers as well as established authors. Bowles's work was also represented, including his story "Afternoon with Antaeus." Antaeus was published until 1994.
After Jane Bowles' death, on 4 May 1973 in Málaga, Spain, Bowles continued to live in Tangier. He wrote regularly and received many visitors to his modest apartment.
In the summers of 1980 and 1982, Bowles conducted writing workshops in Morocco, at the American School of Tangier (under the auspices of the School of Visual Arts in New York). These were considered successful. Among several students who have become successful authors are Rodrigo Rey Rosa, the 2004 Winner of the Miguel Ángel Asturias National Prize in Literature, and Mark Terrill. In addition, Bowles designated Rey Rosa as the literary heir of his and Jane Bowles' estates. In 1982 Bowles published Points in Time, subtitled Tales From Morocco, a collection of stories. Divided into eleven parts, the work consists of untitled story fragments, anecdotes, and travel narratives. These stories are not included in either The Stories of Paul Bowles (Ecco Press) or Collected Stories and Later Writings (The Library of America).
In 1985, Bowles published his translation of Jorge Luis Borges' short story, "The Circular Ruins". It was collected in a book of 16 stories, all translated by Bowles, called She Woke Me Up So I Killed Her. This Borges story had previously been published in translations by the three main Borges translators: Anthony Kerrigan, Anthony Bonner, and James E. Irby. Critics have noted the differences amongst these four translations. Bowles' version is in his typical prose style; it is readily distinguishable from the other three, which have a more conservative idiomatic form of translation.
In 1988, when Bowles was asked in an interview what his social life was like, he replied, "I don't know what a social life is... My social life is restricted to those who serve me and give me meals, and those who want to interview me." When asked in the same interview how he would summarize his achievement, he said, "I've written some books and some music. That's what I've achieved."
In 1991, Bowles was awarded the annual Rea Award for the Short Story. The jury gave the following citation: "Paul Bowles is a storyteller of the utmost purity and integrity. He writes of a world before God became man; a world in which men and women in extremis are seen as components in a larger, more elemental drama. His prose is crystalline and his voice unique. Among living American masters of the short story, Paul Bowles is sui generis."
Bowles had a cameo appearance at the beginning and end of the film version of The Sheltering Sky (1990), directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. Bowles' music was overlooked and mostly forgotten for more than a generation, but in the 1990s, a new generation of American musicians and singers became interested in his work again. Art song enthusiasts savor what are described as "charming, witty pieces." In 1994, Bowles was visited and interviewed by writer Paul Theroux, who featured him in his last chapter of his travel book, The Pillars of Hercules.
Only in the decade before his death was there a renewed interest in his musical output from the 1930s and '40s. This movement may have culminated in May 1994, at the Théâtre du Rond-Point in Paris, with the presentation of a live concert performance, and at which the then 83-year-old Paul Bowles was in attendance. The program included a number of Bowles' original songs and pieces for piano, plus musical tributes and portraits of the composer by Virgil Thomson, Leonard Bernstein, and Phillip Ramey. At least as regards the past neglect of his own catalogue, this ongoing revival may serve as proof of Bowles' own words: "Music only exists when it is played."
In 1995, Bowles made his final return to New York, invited to a "Paul Bowles Festival" at Lincoln Center celebrating his music; it was performed by Jonathan Sheffer leading the Eos Orchestra. A related symposium on Bowles' work and interview were held at the New School for Social Research. A Canadian documentary on his life, "Let It Come Down: The Life of Paul Bowles" won Best Documentary at the 27th Annual International Emmy Awards in New York City.
Visitors in 1998 reported that Bowles' wit and intellect remained. He continued to welcome visitors to his apartment in Tangier but, on the advice of doctors and friends, limited interviews. One of the last was an interview with Stephen Morison, Jr., a friend teaching at the American School of Tangier. It was featured in the July/August 1999 issue of Poets & Writers magazine. On June 6, 1999, Irene Herrmann, the executrix of the Paul Bowles Music Estate, interviewed him to focus on his musical career; this was published in September 2003.
Bowles died of heart failure on November 18, 1999 at the Italian Hospital in Tangier, aged 88. He had been ill for some time with respiratory problems. His ashes were buried in Lakemont, New York, next to the graves of his parents and grandparents.
The Library of America published an edition of Bowles's works in 2002.
The historic building of the American Legation in Tangier includes an entire wing devoted to Paul Bowles. In 2010, they received a donation of furniture, photographs and documents compiled by Gloria Kirby, a permanent resident of Tanger and friend of Bowles.
Renewal of respect for Paul Bowles' music has led to several commercial recording projects. In 2016 the Invencia Piano Duo (Andrey Kasparov and Oksana Lutsyshyn), in collaboration with Naxos Records and its American Classics division, released two CDs of Bowles' complete piano works.
Currently, Paul Bowles is 111 years, 7 months and 16 days old. Paul Bowles will celebrate 112th birthday on a Friday 30th of December 2022.
Find out about Paul Bowles birthday activities in timeline view here.