This essay aims to think through the worldly presence of two important and culturally influential American writers in the cultural contact zones of Tangier and North Africa: Paul Bowles and Jack Kerouac. It contrasts their differing attitudes toward “conversion” and toward the implicit poetics and politics of converting the writing subject into a medium of worlded multicultural otherness and/or the consolidation of selfhood and cultural-political belief in such settings. In Cold War contexts threatened with the allure and bad faith of orientalism and the romantic sublime, the stylistic austerity of Bowles is countered by the mimetic exuberance of Kerouac in world-cultural contact zones from San Francisco and Mexico City to Paris and Tangier. Resonances of stance and style are brought forward in text and context, urging an overall contrast between modernist and Beat writers on the transatlantic world edge where Christian and Islamic mores interact, fuse, and clash.
Masters of Adaptation: Paul Bowles, the Beats, and “Fellaheen Orientalism”Paul Bowles, the Beats, and “Fellaheen Orientalism”Rob Wilson
Recently a visiting teacher in Asia Pacific cultural poetics at the University of Hong Kong in China and National Sun Yat-sen University in Taiwan, Rob Wilson is a professor of literature, creative writing, and cultural studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His recent works of scholarship include Be Always Converting, Be Always Converted: An American Poetics (2009) and Beat Attitudes (2010), and his book of poetry, When the Nikita Moon Rose, is forthcoming.
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Rob Wilson; Masters of Adaptation: Paul Bowles, the Beats, and “Fellaheen Orientalism”Paul Bowles, the Beats, and “Fellaheen Orientalism”Rob Wilson. Cultural Politics 1 July 2012; 8 (2): 193–206. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/17432197-1575120
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