cover of book

A World Outside: The Fiction of Paul Bowles
by Richard F. Patteson
University of Texas Press, 1987
eISBN: 978-1-4773-0163-0 | Paper: 978-0-292-79035-3
Library of Congress Classification PS3552.O874Z78 1987
Dewey Decimal Classification 813.54


Expatriation, the sense of being "outside" or exposed, is a central theme in the life and work of Paul Bowles. Beginning with Bowles' account of a frightening childhood memory, A World Outside explores how the dichotomies of inside and outside, safety and danger, enclosure and exposure—fundamental dualities in Bowles' fiction—have their deepest origin in the fabric of Bowles' own life and also mark his kinship with other twentieth-century writers. Like V. S. Naipaul, Paul Bowles is one of those writers who have an uncanny grasp of what it is like never to feel "at home."

In this much-needed study, Richard Patteson explores how this sense of "outsidedness" characterizes one's experience in a world in which many of the traditional shelters—social, familial, religious—seem to have lost their ability to protect. He discovers that storytelling is the vehicle by which both Bowles and his characters attempt to domesticate inchoate experience, bringing it into the familiar interior of human comprehension.

The music world has for decades recognized Paul Bowles' stature as a composer, but his fiction is only recently receiving the close attention it has long deserved from students of American and contemporary literature. Bowles is an author who neither sought nor received the kind of publicity often lavished on his contemporaries but one whom an ever-growing audience regards as a commanding figure of twentieth-century American literature.

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