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Following a cultured middle-class upbringing in New York City Paul Bowles displayed a talent for music compositions and literary writing. PaulBowles attended the University of Virginia before making various trips to Paris in the 1930s. During college Paul Bowles was characterized as a unique and intelligent individual who preferred to keep to himself. In the midst of his college years, he quietly set sail for Paris where he worked briefly as a switchboard operator at the Herald Tribune but soon returned to New York, taking a job at Dutton’s Bookshop on Fifth Avenue. Paul Bowles also studied music with the composer, Aaron Copland and in New York wrote music for various theatrical productions, as well as other compositions.
After his wife’s death, Paul Bowles wrote many short stories and novels such Let It Come Down, centered on the Moroccan capital and the corruption of life under the international zone. In the Spider’s House, Bowles used the novel, which opens in 1954 during the holy month of Ramadan, to explore the shifting relationship between the colonial power of the French and the rising tide of Moroccan nationalism. Up Above the World, his final novel, concerns the doomed trajectory of an American couple in an unnamed Central American country. Bowles compared it to the writings of Graham Greene and Gide, calling it “light” entertainment, which it is not.
Paul Bowles went on to publish several short-story collections, including A Hundred Camels in the Courtyard, set in Morocco and with an underlying theme of kif smoking. Other works include the Morocco travel writing of Their Heads Are Green and Their Hands Are Blue; Points in Time, a journey through the Moroccan centuries; and an enigmatic autobiography, Without Stopping, dubbed “Without Telling” by William Burroughs. A novel, Too Far From Home, set in Mali, was well received upon publication in 1994.
In later years, Paul Bowles translated a number of Moroccan oral storytellers including Mohammed Mrabet, Mohamed Choukri, Abdeslam Boulaich and Larbi Layachi.
Through his books Bowles created a unique vision of Morocco. As he aged, he continued to live in the same run-down Tangier apartment block, the Immeuble Itesa, receiving visitors and fans from around the world. Paul Bowles remains as one of the leading composers and literary figures of his generation who honored Morocco, its people and culture with great passion and respect. As an homage to Paul Bowles, a Morocco Travel adventure to all of the places he visited, write and traveled to in Morocco is a great way to discover in his footsteps and to create your own unique Morocco Travel journey.
Allen Ginsberg in Morocco
Irwin Allen Ginsberg was an American poet born on June 3, 1926. Ginsberg is best known for the poem Howl (1956), celebrating his friends who were members of the Beat Generation and attacking what he saw as the destructive forces of materialism and conformity in the United States.
Ginsberg was a spiritual seeker, a founding member of a major literary movement, champion of human and civil rights, photographer and songwriter, political gadfly, teacher and co-founder of a poetics school.
During the 1960s Ginsberg became one of the more prominent figures in the American anti-war movement, as he also joined love-ins, took LSD, and generally grabbed every opportunity to harass the authorities. Still, his anger and rebellion were perceived as generally good-natured, and in 1974 he won the National Book Award for The Fall of America: Poems of These States, 1965-1971. In his later years he served as a kind of Grand Old Man of pop counterculture, even appearing in a video for MTV in 1996.
Ginsberg is particularly known for attacking the destructive forces and conformity in the United States which he addressed with his two masterpiece poems. The foundation of Ginsberg’s work was the notion that one’s individual thoughts and experiences resonated among the masses. “It occurs to me that I am America”, Ginsberg wrote, and while the statement was intended to be humorous, it also illustrated his idea that democracy begins with the raising of a single voice. At the height of his celebrity, Allen Ginsberg was, arguably, as symbolic of America — or at lease a large segment of the country — as anyone.
Ginsberg wrote “Sunflower Sutra” valuing human beauty, in America and wrote a satire on American values; in “Wichita Vortex Sutra” whereby he denounces the Vietnam War. In “Wales Visitation” he celebrates nature. Ginsberg interconnected poems of The Fall of America also won him the National Book Award.
His fame and connection eventually enabled him to enter to the music industry. Ginsberg recorded a handful of albums, including music he had written to accompany William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience and two separate recordings known as First Blues. He and neo-classical composer Philip Glass set portions of “Howl” and “Wichita Vortex Sutra” to music. Over the years, Ginsberg appeared on stage with a diverse group of musicians, including Bob Dylan, The Fugs, Phil Ochs, the Clash and Patti Smith. Shortly before his death, Ginsberg recorded “Ballad of the Skeletons” with an eclectic lineup of musicians that included Glass, Lenny Kaye, Marc Ribot and Paul McCartney; the accompanying video, filmed by award-winning director Gus Van Sant, was both humorous and poignant.
Brion Gysin in Morocco
Gysin’s original ideas were a source of inspiration for artists of the Beat Generation in Paris and performers such as David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Keith Haring, and Laurie Anderson.
Gysin was schooled in Canada until 1932 and then in 1934 he moved to Paris to study at the Sorbonne. There he met his first literary and artistic contacts through Sylvia Beach and associated with Max Ernst, Meret Oppenheimer, Valentine Hugo, Salvador and Gala Dali,Dora Maar and Picasso as a member of the Surrealist Group until he was expelled in 1938. Upon his dismissal Gysin fled to Greece and then took his first trip to the Sahara desert. Upon returning to Paris, he had his first one man show at Galerie Quatre Chemins and then moved to New York City the following year where he began to assist with Irene Sharaff’s Broadway musicals. In 1943 he joined the US and Canadian armies. These experiences led him to write the biography of Josiah Henson (Uncle Tom): To Master a Long Goodnight, followed by The History of Slavery in Canada.
In 1946, he spent eighteen months in Japan and then traveled around India. Shortly after, Gysin received one of the first Fulbright Fellowships to France, where researched the history of slavery, at the
University of Bordeaux and the Archivos de India, in Seville, Spain.
A gifted draughtsman, he took an 18-month course in Japanese language studies and calligraphy that would greatly influence his artwork. In 1949, he was among the firstFulbright Fellows. His goal: to research the history of slavery at the University of Bordeaux and in the Archivos de India in Seville, Spain, a project that he later abandoned.
In 1953 Gysin had his first encounter with William S. Burroughs at “The 1001 Nights, and went on to collaborate with on many projects with him. During this same year he exhibited at the museum of Las Palmas and Tenerifeand pursued studies in Arab calligraphy. After Morocco’s independence in 1956, Gysin began a series of collaborations with artists, poets and performers and stayed active in the arts, exhibiting his work and performing in Paris, New York, Chicago, Rome and London until he died in 1986.
Isabelle Eberhardt in North Africa
Isabelle Eberhardt was a Swiss-Algerianexplorer and writer, born in Geneva, Switzerland in 1877, who lived and travelled extensively in North Africa. For the time she was an extremely liberated individual who rejected conventional European morality in favor of her own path and that of Islam. She died in a flash flood in the desert at the age of 27.
During the course of her lifetime, Eberhardt’s captivating stories of her experiences disguised as a man on horseback through the Sahara desert and befriending the mysterious Bedouintribes made her a poster child the exoticism of the Arabic world.
Eberhardt’s had a unique family that was characterized by an Armenian born step father, Alexandre Trophimowsky, who was an anarchist, ex- priest and convert to Islam and an aristocraticLutheran Baltic German/Russianmother, Nathalie Moerder (née Eberhardt). This allowed Eberhardt to experience an unconventional and liberal upbringing greatly different from her peers which molded her legacy in the Arab world.
At age twenty, Eberhardt, accompanied by her mother, took her first trip to Northern Africa where they both converted to the Wahabi sect of Islam. Eberhardt fell in love with Algerian culture and society. However, her mother died suddenly in Annaba and was buried there under the name of Fatma Mannoubia. Shortly after her mother’s death, Isabelle took the side of local Muslims in violent fighting against colonial rule by the French. Two years later Isabelle returned to Geneva and her step father, Trophimowsky died of throat cancer in 1899.
She also joined the Qadiriyya, a radical Sufi brotherhood who opposed colonial rule and through her writing began to support the Arab liberation struggle.
Eberhardt declared that she felt much more a Muslim than she ever did an anarchist and wrote articles to denounce the rule of the French in Algeria and romantic prose pieces about the beauty of traditional Arab culture.
Yet, despite Eberhardt’s dedication to Islam and the Qadiriyya, she was occasionally promiscuous and would sometimes indulge in alcohol and marijuana. Eberhardt’s strong free-will is considered to be a result of her anarchist roots and her naturally strong character.
Eberhardt channeled her emotions through her diaries and novels and passed on her unique experiences by working as a reporter. She wrote on her travels in many books and French newspapers, including Nouvelles Algériennes (“Algerian News“, Dans l’Ombre Chaude de l’Islam (“In the Hot Shade of Islam“) (1906), and Les journaliers (“The Day Laborers“) (1922). She started working as a war reporter in the South of Oran in 1903. While she romanticized her writings and work,Eberhardt was a great resource for the western world with regards to explaining the life and culture of Northern Africa.
While appreciated and thought to be intriguing, Eberhardt’s controversial behavior sometimes upset people, especially some Muslims. In 1901 she was attacked by a local Algerian hired to kill her while praying at a mosque. Even though Eberhardt’s arm was nearly severed, she demonstrated deep and a strong character by defending her assassin in court and successfully pleaded for his life.
Isabelle married Slimane Ehnni, an Algerian soldier, on October 17, 1901, in Marseille. After a long separation, her husband decided to join her and she rented a house for this occasion. Then, tragically at the age of twenty-seven on October 21, 1904, Eberhardt died in a flash flood in Aïn Séfra, Algeria. The house, constructed of clay, collapsed in the flood and her husband later died in 1907.
Paul Bowles has translated some of Eberhardt’s work into English. The Oblivion Seekers (City Lights Publishing, 1975) consists of 13 different short pieces translated by Bowles and was published in 1972.
William S. Burroughs in Morocco
William Seward Burroughs II was born in 1914 to a prominent family in Saint Louis, Missouri. Burroughs was an American novelist, essayist, social critic, painter and spoken word performer. Much of Burroughs’s work is semi-autobiographical, drawn from his experiences as an opiate addict. A primary member of the Beat Generation, Burroughs was an avant-garde author who affected popular culture as well as literature.
His grandfather William Seward Burroughs founded the Burroughs Adding Machine company. Burroughs’s mother, Laura Hammon Lee, was the daughter of a minister whose family claimed to be related to Robert E. Lee. His maternal uncle, Ivy Lee, was an advertising pioneer later employed as a publicist for the Rockefellers. His father, Mortimer Perry Burroughs, ran an antique and gift shop, Cobblestone Gardens; first in St. Louis, then in Palm Beach, Florida.
During his youth Burroughs struggled to keep his sexual identity a secret using and kept journals documenting an erotic attachment to another boy. He kept his sexual orientation concealed well into adulthood when, paradoxically, he became a well known homosexual writer after the publication of Naked Lunch in 1959.
After graduating from Harvard, his family provided him with financial support and he moved to Vienna, Austria where he pursued a medical degree and explored his sexuality. Shortly after returning home he enlisted in the U.S. Army, just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, but was rejected on claims that he was mentally unstable.
Burroughs began living with Joan Vollmer Adams in an apartment they shared with writer Jack Kerouac and Edie Parker, Kerouac’s first wife. Vollmer Adams was married to a GI with whom she had a young daughter, Julie Adams. Burroughs and Joan Vollmer had a common law marriage but became addicted to drugs and split up.
Burrough’s lived under house arrest with his parents while Vollumer was committed to Bellevue Hospital. Once recovered Burroughs convinced Vollumer and her daughter to move to Texas where they had a son, William Burroughs III. Their next stop, the Big Easy, both moved to New Orleans and then to Mexico, continually caught up in drugs. In 1951, tragedy struck and Burroughs accidentally shot his wife to death in Mexico while they were playing a drunken game at a party. Disgusted with himself, Burroughs threw himself into writing. Although he completed his first two novels in Mexico, it was not until he killed Vollmer that he came to a conclusion that he would not have become a writer if it were not for Jones death.
Inspired by Paul Bowles’ writing, Burroughs moved to Tangier in 1954 where he indulged in a hippy lifestyle and spent four years working on the Naked Lunch. Eventually, Ginsberg and Kerouac, who traveled to Tangier in 1957, helped Burroughs type, edit, and arrange these episodes into Naked Lunch. It was Naked Lunch that exposed Burroughs as a homosexual writer. Burroughs alsotried to write commercial articles about Tangier. It wasn’t until 1989 when he published the Interzone, and these Moroccan short stories were accessible to the public.
Burroughs continued to live nomadically and write prolifically throughout the 60’s. Then he returned to New York in the 1974 and met James Grauerholz, who became Burroughs’ life manager, helping him to organize and publish his writings. Burroughs moved to Lawrence, Kansas with Grauerholz where he was s inducted into the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. In August 1997 Burroughs died of a heart attack in at 83.
Yves Saint Laurent in Morocco
Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent, known as Yves Saint Laurent, was an Algerian born French fashion designer who is considered one of the greatest figures in French fashion of the 20th century. He is quoted to have drawn his style from the body of a woman because that is where his ideas and vitality came from. Laurent was one of the most celebrated and influential designers of the past twenty-five years because he changed forever what women wear, introducing trouser suits, safari jackets and sweaters.
Laurent was born on August 1st, 1936 in Oran, Algeria which at the time was French colony. His family was among the most prominent in Oran. Laurent’s father, Charles, a descendant of Baron Mathieu de Mauvières (who officiated at the wedding of Napoleon Bonaparte and Joséphine de Beauharnais), was the president of an insurance company and the owner of a chain of movie theatres. His mother, Lucienne-Andrée (née Wilbaux), the daughter of a Belgian engineer and Spanish wife, passed her sense of fashion and style on to her Yves. Laurent was the oldest child and had two female siblings.
Unlike most French children, Yves and his sisters were not directly affected by World War II, since their father did not have to server and Algeria was far enough away from France that it was spared the worst of its defeat and the occupation of the Nazis. Yves found a refuge at home, where his parents allowed him to use an empty room to act out performances of plays by Molière and Giraudoux for his family. He also devoured the theatre reviews in the French magazine Vogue, and became fascinated by the descriptions of the plays and the costumes.
Yves first earned attention for his talent in 1950 when three sketches he entered into a contest for young fashion designers organized by the International Wool Secretariatwon him the third prize and an invitation to the awards ceremony in Paris. Shortly after his second win at the International Wool Secretariat Yves was recognized by Dior. After working a few years on mundane tasks at the House of Dior, his sketches were accepted for couture collections.
At the age of 21, Diordied of a heart attack and Yves found himself as the head designer of the House of Dior. His spring 1958 collection is said to have saved the House from financial ruin and he was catapulted to international stardom.
Yves Saint Laurent maintained the subtropical Majorelle Garden located in within the Imperial city of Marrakech and made it famous abroad. In I886 Jacques Majorelle, a painter acquired the grounds which were going to become the Majorelle Garden. In 1947 Jacques opened the garden’s doors to the public and then what followed, was a tragic car accident which leads to his death in France. Then, in 1980 Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent repurchased the garden and restored it.
Laurent retired in 2002 due to illness and became increasingly reclusive, living at his homes in Normandy and Morocco. He died on June 1st 2008 of brain cancer. His funeral was held in Parisand attended by 800 mourners from across the world. Among the guests at the church were fashion designers Jean-Paul Gaultier, Hubert de Givenchy, John Galliano and Vivienne Westwood as well as French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Saint Laurent’s 95-year-old mother, Lucienne. The ashes of Yves Saint Laurent have been scattered in the Majorelle Garden of his villa in Marrakech.