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A Hundred Camels in the Courtyard Paperback – January 1, 2001

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Paul Bowles was born in 1910 and studied music with composer Aaron Copland before moving to Tangier, Morocco. A devastatingly imaginative observer of the West's encounter with the East, he is the author of four highly acclaimed novels: The Sheltering Sky, Let It Come Down, The Spider's House, and Up Above the World. In addition to being one of the most powerful postwar American novelists, Bowles was an acclaimed composer, a travel writer, a poet, a translator, and a short story writer. He died in Morocco in 1999.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 90 pages
  • Publisher: City Lights Publishers; 2 edition (January 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872860027
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872860025
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #251,281 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By A Customer on March 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
"A pipe of kif before breakfast gives a man the strength of a hundred camels in the courtyard." The proverb which opens this collection of stories lets us know where Bowles is coming from. Four short tales of Moroccan kif smokers open doors into worlds distant in time, space, and spiritual reality from millennial America. Bowles' style is distantly reminiscent of Hemingway in its bare simplicity, but also evocative of the South American magical realists in its exploration of the miraculous.
Each of his heroes is a kif smoker, and each finds it to be a useful and integral part of his life. Whether dealing with difficult neighbors in "A Friend of the World" or avoiding the cops in "He of the Assembly," smokers have a definite edge in Bowles' Morocco. But this is no simple paean--the stupid everyday troubles that also spring from kif are presented vividly and humorously (the soldier who loses his gun in "The Wind at Beni Midar" perfectly captures the zenith and nadir of chronic use). Short but satisfying, "A Hundred Camels in the Courtyard" makes an excellent introduction to Paul Bowles' work.
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Format: Paperback
From the preface: "Moroccan kif-smokers like to speak of "two worlds",the one ruled by inexorable natural laws, and the other, the kif world,in which each person perceives "reality" according to his own essence, the state of consciousness in which the elements of the physical universe are automatically rearranged by cannabis to suit the requirements of the individual."-Paul Bowles
Bowles immersion into the culture of North Africa has produced some of the most interesting literature. This scant collection of four stories is an attractive little book of inconsequential but readable tales. Just as Bowles studied and collected Moroccan music as a key into the North African mindset so here he studies kif as another kind of key, one that gives him direct access into the North African subconscious. Bowles sets forth in the introduction that these tales are put together making use of associations made while he was under the kif influence. ....the best parts to my ears are the hermetic sayings overheard by kif smokers. "The eye wants to sleep but the head is no mattress", "The earth trembles and the sky is afraid, and the two eyes are not brothers", "A pipe of kif before breakfast gives a man the strength of one hundred camels in the courtyard".
The folk simplicity of these tales is very appealing. Later Bowles will cover this terrain again when he works with Mohammed Mrabet transcripting that Moroccans oral tales. An excellent book by Mrabet/Bowles is M'Hashish(which means full of hashish). Happy happy reading.
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About four or five short stories set in Morrocco, where Bowles lived and wrote. They are based on the schizoid perceptions of the hashish smoker- the double world where two dimensions diverge and sometimes intersect. These are some of Bowles earliest literary efforts, concise and expansive.
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