Paul Bowles letters to John B. L. Goodwin

Summary

Creator: Bowles, Paul, 1910-1999
Date(s): 1956-1991
Call Number: MSS 0099, F0947
Language: Materials entirely in English.
Abstract: In these eighteen letters, written between 1957 and 1991, American novelist Paul Bowles (1910-1999) corresponded with his longtime friend American novelist, poet, and painter John B. L. Goodwin (1912-1994).
Physical Description: 19 items (22 pages)
Source: Purchase, July 2013.
Processing: Processed and encoded by Anita Wellner, February 2014. Further encoded by George Apodaca, October 2015. Finding aid prepared using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Biographical and Historical Notes

Paul Bowles

American composer and author Paul Frederic Bowles (1910-1999) produced numerous works of fiction, essays, travel writing, poems, autobiographical pieces, and other works.

In 1938, Paul Bowles married the aspiring writer Jane Auer. Inspired by his wife's success and her dedication to writing, Bowles began his own career as an author, eventually surpassing his already successful reputation as a composer.

John B. L. Goodwin

American writer and poet John Blair Linn Goodwin (1912-1994) was a world traveler, whose work was influenced by the locales he had visited.

His writings include The Idols and the Prey (1952), a novel about Haiti; A View From Fuji (1963), a novella about Japan; and a children’s book, The Pleasant Pirate .

Goodwin's short story "The Cocoon" was included in a 1947 anthology of best American short stories.

Paul Bowles (1910-1999)

American composer and author Paul Frederic Bowles (1910-1999) produced numerous works of fiction, essays, travel writing, poems, autobiographical pieces, and other works.

In 1938, Paul Bowles married the aspiring writer Jane Auer. Inspired by his wife's success and her dedication to writing, Bowles began his own career as an author, eventually surpassing his already successful reputation as a composer.

Sources

Miller, Jeffrey. Paul Bowles: A Descriptive Bibliography. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Black Sparrow Press, 1986.

Sawyer-Laucanno, Christopher. An Invisible Spectator: A Biography of Paul Bowles. New York: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1989.

John B. L. Goodwin (1912-1994)

American writer and poet John Blair Linn Goodwin (1912-1994) was a world traveler, whose work was influenced by the locales he had visited.

His writings include The Idols and the Prey (1952), a novel about Haiti; A View From Fuji (1963), a novella about Japan; and a children’s book, The Pleasant Pirate.

Goodwin's short story The Cocoon was included in a 1947 anthology of best American short stories.

Sources

John Blair Linn Goodwin. Obituaries. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1994/01/20/obituaries/john-blair-linn-goodwin (accessed February 19, 2014).

Scope and Content Note

In these eighteen letters, written between 1957 and 1991, American novelist Paul Bowles (1910-1999) corresponded with his longtime friend American novelist, poet, and painter John B. L. Goodwin (1912-1994).

For over thirty years, Bowles revealed his thoughts to Goodwin on his professional literary endeavors and personal aspects of his life. His letters are addressed from many far-reaching locales, including Mombasa, India; the Canary Islands; Ceylon (Sri Lanka); Bangkok, Thailand; Lisbon, Spain; Northridge, California; New York City; and Tangier in Morocco.

Until Jane Bowles's death in 1973, Bowles often mentioned his wife, in his letters to Goodwin, noting, over time, the deterioration in her health, his relationship to her family, and quirks in her personality. In a letter dated May 13, 1958, Bowles admitted that at the request of Jane's father, he had written and signed letters in Jane’s name to Jane's mother. Bowles remarked of this practice, "I loathe the idea of perpetrating such a hoax." In another letter, Bowles wrote of Jane: "some day I shall have to accept the fact that she is an exceedingly social creature" (May 17, 1965). And later, in a poignant letter written ten days after his wife’s death, Bowles would lament, "I am sad, but only for the first stroke and the years of suffering it brought her. If only the last one had come several years ago when she wanted it so badly" (May 13, 1973).

Bowles also referred to many of his and Goodwin’s notable acquaintances, including Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal, Lillian Hellman, Francis Bacon, Howard Griffin, Gavin Lambert, and William Burroughs. Of Bernado Bertolucci's film adaptation of his book, The Sheltering Sky, Bowles expressed his disappointment; articulating in a letter dated June 12, 1991: "I’m not sure what single fact I objected to most. Probably Malkovitch [sic]. But there were so many faults that it’s hard to choose."

Bowles also wrote of everyday life: leaking roofs, health issues, what he was reading (or about to read, as in the case with Burroughs’s The Naked Lunch), the Gulf War’s effect on mail, and the vagaries of travel. Particularly, Bowles acknowledged his current literary work, from teaching in the English Department at San Fernando Valley State College in Northridge, California, to traveling to Thailand to gather information for a book he was writing, to correcting the page proofs for the Gallimard edition of A Life Full of Holes. Bowles also wrote philosophically of his novels, saying: "And novels, of course are also dreams, the stretch nylon sort that can be extended and extended in time without breaking, (I think the longer they stretch the stronger they get) but still dreams, where one has the freedom one can never have in actuality, and for that reason infinitely preferable to live in" (May 13, 1958).

Bowles and Goodwin shared a friendship which allowed Bowles to write in an unguarded and frank manner. These letters not only chronicle the travels, life, and literary work of Bowles, but occasionally reveal his thought processes and feelings, which are not often expressed in his letters.

Using these materials

Shelving Summary

Box 66, F0947: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0099 manuscript boxes.

Access Information

The collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation

MSS 0099, F0947, Paul Bowles letters to John B. L. Goodwin, Special Collections, University of Delaware Library, Newark, Delaware.

Related Materials in this Repository

This item forms part of MSS 0099 Miscellaneous Literary and Historical Manuscripts.

MSS 0164 Paul Bowles collection.

MSS 0163 Paul Bowles papers.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library, http://library.udel.edu/spec/askspec/

Container List

Arrangement

Arranged in chronological order.

Fragment of typed letter, 1956 September 18 1 item (1 p.) Box 66, F0947

Only one quarter of the letter survived mailing.

Typed letter signed with envelope, 1957 June 30 1 item (2 p.) Box 66, F0947

Bowles enclosed the previous letter fragment with this letter.

Autograph letter signed with envelope, 1958 April 10 1 item (1 p.) Box 66, F0947
Typed letter signed, 1958 May 13 1 item (2 p.) Box 66, F0947
Typed letter signed, 1959 December 28 1 item (1 p.) Box 66, F0947
Autograph letter signed with envelope, 1960 January 28 1 item (1 p.) Box 66, F0947
Typed letter signed, 1960 May 2 1 item (1 p.) Box 66, F0947
Typed letter signed, 1965 May 17 1 item (1 p.) Box 66, F0947
Typed letter signed, 1965 June 6 1 item (1 p.) Box 66, F0947
Typed letter (aerogramme) signed, 1966 November 23 1 item (2 p.) Box 66, F0947
Autograph letter (aerogramme) signed, 1968 October 10 1 item (1 p.) Box 66, F0947
Typed letter signed, 1973 May 13 1 item (1 p.) Box 66, F0947
Typed letter signed, 1977 February 9 1 item (1 p.) Box 66, F0947
Typed letter signed with envelope, 1984 May 16 1 item (1 p.) Box 66, F0947
Typed letter signed, 1984 August 7 1 item (1 p.) Box 66, F0947
Typed letter signed, 1985 August 28 1 item (1 p.) Box 66, F0947
Autograph letter signed with envelope, 1991 June 12 1 item (1 p.) Box 66, F0947
Autograph letter signed with envelope, 1991 October 12 1 item (1 p.) Box 66, F0947
Autograph card signed, [circa 1970] December 11 1 item (1 p.) Box 66, F0947

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