Read A Distant Episode: The Selected Stories by Paul Bowles Free Online
Book Title: A Distant Episode: The Selected Stories|
The author of the book: Paul Bowles
ISBN 13: 9780061137389
Edition: Harper Perennial
Date of issue: June 13th 2006
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 552 KB
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Reader ratings: 5.4
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Upon finishing The Sheltering Sky, I was reluctant to leave Bowles’ deeply engaging northern Africa behind, so I read his story, “A Distant Episode,” thinking I would take advantage of the opportunity to contemplate the differences between short stories and novels. It was a good call, I believe, because the story is a reprisal of a plot line present in the novel: a traumatized foreigner is captured by sinister nomads and transported into an exotic desert world, losing her/his identity for a long period, only to recover it momentarily as part of a final plunge into complete insanity and/or despair.
A happy little fugue Bowles liked to play out! But to get to the point, the striking difference between the short story and the novel is, not surprisingly, character development. In “A Distant Episode,” the protagonist (the “Professor”) is sketched only in outline—we never find out what he looks like, and we know very little about him other than that he is a linguist, that his scientific bent allows him to feel that he can maintain an amused distance from the culture he’s in, and that he sometimes behaves impulsively. Although these tidbits of character are important, the story takes on an admirable breakneck momentum that has little to do with character, and everything to do with pure narrative tension, or dramatic conflict. How does Bowles do it?
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Read information about the authorPaul Bowles grew up in New York, and attended college at the University of Virginia before traveling to Paris, where became a part of Gertrude Stein's literary and artistic circle. Following her advice, he took his first trip to Tangiers in 1931 with his friend, composer Aaron Copeland.
In 1938 he married author and playwright Jane Auer (see: Jane Bowles). He moved to Tangiers permanently in 1947, with Auer following him there in 1948. There they became fixtures of the American and European expatriate scene, their visitors including Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams and Gore Vidal. Bowles continued to live in Tangiers after the death of his wife in 1973.
Bowles died of heart failure in Tangier on November 18, 1999. His ashes were interred near the graves of his parents and grandparents in Lakemont, New York.
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