7659         Paul Bowles (December 30, 1910 – November 18, 1999) was an American expatriate composer, author, and translator. He spent most of his life, 52 years, in Tangier, Morocco and his writing is so much immersed in the country and culture he lived in that he made this place a home. He is more open to the experience because, while he does compare these places to America, he is not planning on returning. But he is still searching for something lost, as he writes in “Windows on the Past,” which may be an infancy or childhood or simple nostalgia for an undefined place, but this feeling of incompletion allows him to be all the more receptive and his writings are one of welcoming the details and sensations of the places he goes.

In the 1960s Bowles began translating and collecting stories from the oral tradition of native Moroccan storytellers, including Mohammed Mrabet, Driss Ben Hamed Charhadi (Larbi Layachi), Mohamed Choukri, Abdeslam Boulaich, and Ahmed Yacoubi. As Richard F. Patteson states, “In his role as midwife to stories originating in Moroccan minds, Bowles has come as close as possible to the ontologically impossible point of being both American and Moroccan, both ‘here’ and ‘there,’ and his translations mark the ultimate stage in his imaginative assimilation and interpretation of Moroccan culture.” As he himself put it, “I did A Life Full of Holes with Driss Ben Hamid Charhadi”. The tales of Charhadi and other Moroccan storytellers cannot be read without a continual awareness of a double authorial presence. Most of these stories were told orally into a tape recorder, then rendered into English by Bowles. “The nearest equivalent in English” must be established first, followed by the reconstitution of the “voice” and the “attempt to reproduce in English prose the idiosyncrasies and inflections of speech … in the original Arabic delivery.”

Bowles’s most successful and important collaboration, producing ten books over the past twenty years, has been with Mohammed Mrabet, and their fiction, perhaps inevitably, is a virtual spider web of intertextuality. “The whole process by which these stories have come into being as English texts, the transcultural discourses, raises questions concerning origin and authority that are intimately related to the very nature of Mrabet’s fiction, particularly to its preoccupation with alterity and doubleness,” as indicated by Richard Patteson.

In addition to his chamber and stage compositions, Bowles published fourteen short story collections, several novels, three volumes of poetry, numerous translations, numerous travel articles, and an autobiography.