Paul Bowles


American Expatriate Composer, Writer, Traveler and Translator

Author Quotes

Many days later another caravan was passing and a man saw something on top of the highest dune there. And when they went up to see, they found Outka, Mimouna and Aicha; they were still there, lying the same way as when they had gone to sleep. And all three of the glasses,' he held up his own little tea glass, 'were full of sand. That was how they had their tea in the Sahara.

Tangier is a one-horse town that happens to have its own government.

The sky hides the night behind it and shelters the people beneath from the horror that lies above.

When stripŠd snakes shall creep upon us and the nervous screams of birds make silent all the fountains and the orchards and when these have caught upon the wing each wing that flutters from the sky then shall I and then shall I rip out the smiles from garden walks transform the minnows into hawks tarantulas and bees. Then shall I and then shall I make each whining thing.

May Allah bless you. Or had she said: May Allah burn you? He was not sure which: the two Arabic words sounded so much alike.

Tangier is more New York than New York... Then you must see how alike the two places are. The life revolves wholly about the making of money. Practically everyone is dishonest. In New York you have Wall Street, here you have the Bourse... In New York you have the slick financiers, here the money changers. In New York you have your racketeers. Here you have your smugglers. And you have every nationality and no civic pride.

The soul is the weariest part of the body.

Whenever he was en route from one place to another, he was able to look at his life with a little more objectivity than usual. It was often on trips that he thought most clearly, and made the decisions that he could not reach when he was stationary.

If people are living the same as always, with their bellies full of food, they'll just go on the same way. If they get hungry and unhappy enough, something happens.

Not all the ravages caused by our merciless age are tangible ones. The subtler forms of destruction, those involving only the human spirit, are the most to be dreaded.

That was one of the troubles with the Istiqlal, with all politics: you talked about people as though they were not really people, as though they were only things, numbers, animals, perhaps, but not really people.

The wind blew the dust along the ground into his mouth as he sang.

Whereas the tourist generally hurries back home at the end of a few weeks or months, the traveler belonging no more to one place than to the next, moves slowly over periods of years, from one part of the earth to another. Indeed, he would have found it difficult to tell, among the many places he had lived, precisely where it was he had felt most at home.

If she could only give up, relax, and live in the perfect knowledge that there was no hope.

Now it's finished, everything. Even the religion. In a few more years the whole country will be like all the other Moslem countries, just a huge European slum, full of poverty and hatred.

That was what he wanted, to be baked dry and hard, to feel the vaporous worries evaporating one by one, to know finally that all the damp little doubts and hesitations that covered the floor of his being were curling up and expiring in the great furnace-blast of the sun.

Their little freighter had spewed them out from its comfortable maw the day before onto the hot docks, sweating and scowling with anxiety, where for a long time no one had paid them the slightest attention. As he [Port] stood there in the burning sun, he had been tempted to go back aboard and see about taking passage for the continuing voyage to Istanbul, but it would have been difficult to do without losing face, since it was he who had cajoled them into coming to North Africa. So he had cast a matter-of-fact glance up and down the dock, made a few reasonably unflattering remarks about the place, and let it go at that, silently resolving to start inland as quickly as possible.

Whoever invented the concept of fairness, anyway? Isn't everything easier if you simply get rid of the idea of justice altogether? You think the quantity of pleasure, the degree of suffering is constant among all men?

If you could not have freedom you could still have vengeance.

Often when he was not working he had come here and sat an entire afternoon, lulled by the din and music from the other rooms into a state of vague ecstasy, while he contemplated the small sheet of water outside the window. It was that happy frame of mind into which his people could project themselves so easily - the mere absence of immediate unpleasant preoccupation could start it off, and a landscape which included the sea, a river, a fountain, or anything that occupied the eye without engaging the mind, was of use in sustaining it. It was the world behind the world, where reflection precludes the necessity for action, and the calm which all things seek in death appears briefly in the guise of contentment, the spirit at last persuaded that the still waters of perfection are reachable.

The Americans are the nature of the future, she would announce in her hearty voice. Here's to 'em. God bless their gadgets, great and small, God bless Frigidaire, Tampax and Coca-Cola. Yes, even Coca-Cola, darling. (It was generally conceded that Coca-Cola's advertising was ruining the picturesqueness of Morocco.)

There could be nothing, he reflected, to equal a government which was simply the honest enforcement, by means of the sword, of the laws of Islam.

Writing is harmless, and it keeps me in dinners and out of trouble.

If you don?t know why you like a thing, it is usually worth your while to attempt to find out.

Once you accept the fact that life isn't fun, you'll be much happier, his mother said to him.

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American Expatriate Composer, Writer, Traveler and Translator