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The Sheltering Sky Paperback – April 1, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco Press; a edition (April 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0880015829
  • ISBN-13: 978-0880015820
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (211 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,860,787 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

American novelist and short-story writer, poet, translator, classical music composer, and filmscorer Paul Bowles has lived as an expatriate for more than 40 years in the North African nation of Morocco, a country that reaches into the vast and inhospitable Sahara Desert. The desert is itself a character in The Sheltering Sky, the most famous of Bowles' books, which is about three young Americans of the postwar generation who go on a walkabout into Northern Africa's own arid heart of darkness. In the process, the veneer of their lives is peeled back under the author's psychological inquiry. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"[The Sheltering Sky] is one of the most original, even visionary, works of fiction to appear in this century." -- --Tobias Wolff

"It stands head and shoulders above most other novels published in English since World War II." -- --The New Republic

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Customer Reviews

This is a powerful and consuming novel written in elegant and lyrical prose.
Steiner
Had these characters been allowed to develop and their motives made more clear, I believe that it could have become a very interesting sub-plot.
"kingsransom"
Bowles is the master at stripping away fantasy and illusion, revealing the amazing fragility of human existence and meaning.
C. B Collins Jr.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 69 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 13, 1997
Format: Paperback
Paul Bowles' classic novel of the Sahara, "The Sheltering Sky", is perhaps the closest to perfect a book can attain. The characters are absolutely real, and Bowles digs so deep into the American psyche with them the effect is, at times, horrifying. In this book of three American travelers who journey through North Africa, Bowles shows us, with gripping yet subtle tones, how rigid is our comprehension of foreign culture, and how incomplete is our knowledge of ourselves. It is a novel for the mind. As the journeyers separate, first from each other then from their own sanity, we undestand how delicate our grip on reality is, especially when faced with the awesome spectacle of untouched nature. As dialogue and plot imperceptibly give way to long, lush interior landscapes, Bowles charts a course to the heart of human evil for us, much as Conrad did in "Heart of Darkness", but this time with more depth and more passion. There is no mistaking this book or a potboiler, and it is not an easy read, but once begun it is not easily ended, even when the last page is read. It echoes. It will echo one hundred years from now. Pick it up and begin a journey into yourself you will never forget
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
The Sheltering Sky is a book that has everything--passion, love, disillusionment, pathos--you name and it's there. I hate to use the word, "masterpiece," but in this case, it applies. Bowles has done a perfect job in showing us the psychological depths of people who are deeply in love, yet lose their connections to and need for each other. The power of their plight is only reinforced by the unrelenting bleakness of the vast Sahara. It is a dark and often depressing book but one that is more than satisfying and memorable.
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71 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Mitchell Jones on November 19, 1999
Format: Paperback
With the death of Paul Bowles the world has lost one of its great authors. This book allows us to hold on to some of that greatness. As a rumination on the existential impact of place and space, the book opens up horizons of thought one may have never considered. When Port tells Kit his thoughts on the 'sheltering sky' one is asked to consider the implications of realizing - always and ceaselessly knowing - that the "sky" is a fiction that protects us from our very insignificance. In one short passage, Bowles has ripped the lid off our world as surely as he casts Kit into the desert, another grain of sand among countless others. This book is about more than an encounter with the Sahara, it is about - and is itself - an encounter with human existence.
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328 of 386 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
In Paul Bowles' The Sheltering Sky, three still-young Americans travel to the post WWII North African desert in search of themselves and new experiences.
Port and Kit Moresby, in the tenth year of marriage, have become both sexually and emotionally estranged, and Port hopes their sojourn into the desert will bring them closer together and restore the love they once shared. Kit, not so keen on either the desert or Port, has nevertheless agreed to Port's wishes, albeit reluctantly. The third person in their party, their friend, George Tunner, accompanies them more on a whim than anything else.
Seeking the exotic, the trio really doesn't know what to do with it when they find it. The sun is too bright, the labyrinth of city streets too dark, the excess of sensual delights a surfeit that imprisons rather than frees.
Becoming more and more dissatisfied with both themselves and with those around them, they decide to leave the restrictiveness of the city behind and venture farther south, into the wild, harsh, dazzling beauty of the Sahara. They meet the Lyles, ostensibly mother and son, who claim to be writing a travel book but whose real business appears to be far more sinister, much like the duo's own obsessive Freudian tangles.
Port, who at first, found himself drawn inexorably to the beauty and remoteness of the Sahara, soon becomes violently ill and dies, and Kit, grateful to be rescued by a passing, enigmatic Arab, finds that things are not always as they seem. Her rescuer becomes her imprisoner, and as the sun grows ever brighter, the shadows grow deeper. The bizarre eventually becomes so real that Kit gradually and terrifyingly loses what fragile grip on reality she once possessed.
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117 of 136 people found the following review helpful By hugh riminton on January 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
For Kerouac and the Beats, frenetic, directionless travel was proof of life - could even be held to "create" life. Bowles, in this slyly subversive book, reverses that. The three Americans who start out on this largely pointless journey into the North African desert, hope the mere fact of movement will resolve their deep spiritual lethargy - or at least delay their having to face it. They imagine themselves sophisticated, wearing their cynicism as a talisman in a cultural landscape of troubling strangeness. But they are simply unaware. Faced with an elemental vastness that cares nothing for their conceits, they dis-integrate. Only one survives and she is so utterly changed - physically and in spirit - that she can no longer recognise herself, nor see a future for herself in the world she formally inhabited. Although the prime characters are fundamentally unpleasant - at least for most of the book - the lasting impression is of an eerie, spectral beauty. It is a quiet masterpiece; I know of few books that are more subtly teasing - that more wisely poke at our arrogance in imagining that we know anything.
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