The unfinished scream : the disintegration of the self and society in the works of Paul Bowles
This thesis shows how Bowles's style and themes have developed from a number of sources, including Dada and Surrealism and Edgar Allan Poe, but moved beyond them to a writing which is unique and radical. The thesis traces the progress of Bowles's work from his examination of representative Western characters undergoing immensely testing journeys into their deepest selves, to his fascination with altered states of perception and Moroccan culture. It argues that Bowles has recognised a double division within humanity; from the natural world itself, and from a true and authentic relationship to our unconscious. As a result of this double division, the self and society which Bowles examines are distorted and corrupted. The thesis explores how Bowles has consistently worked to undermine the system of values and perceptions which permit such divisions to exist. In order to do this, he attacks the self, as the centre of our own importance within the world, and society, because it conditions us into an acceptance of values and ways of seeing life. Much of his fiction aims to disintegrate and destroy these two key areas in order that he might expose their failings and suggest alternative ways of existing. In particular, Bowles has grown more interested in preserving elements of Moroccan culture as remnants of a more open, less rational way of life. This thesis, therefore, examines the final balance between a destructive urge and a desparate need to preserve and learn from what remains when the distorted and corrupt has been stripped away.