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(03/07/2008) The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles. New York. 1949. New Directions. keywords: Literature America. 318 pages. Cover art by Lustig.

A trio of Americans take an unforgettable journey into North Africa where they will confront the mystery of a foreign culture, alienation, and ultimately, death.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   'The sky hides the night behind it, and shelters the person beneath from the horror that lies above.' In this mood of suspense - half fear and half anticipation - we follow a remarkable new novelist into a strange and fascinating world - a coastal city in North Africa and the great desert behind it, the Sahara, where civilization ends. When Port Moresby and his wife Kit left New York they had a problem to solve together. So perhaps it was a mistake to invite their friend Tunner along on the trip, even if he was their best friend. And perhaps they were even less wise to choose Africa for their journey. The Sahara, they were to find, does not let itself be taken lightly. Is it presumptuous to suggest that Paul Bowles, in THE SHELTERING SKY, may have done for our understanding of Arab Africa something of what E. M. Forster did for India in A PASSAGE TO INDIA? There is more here than an exciting tale; we sense the sinister power of Africa, its prodigality and its squalor, its vitality and its decadence, and we feel the impact which it makes on the outsider who attempts to penetrate its mystery. Another world from ours. And yet not altogether. For in certain ways the dread Sahara can suggest the moral landscape of our own environment.

 

 

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