Friday, March 9, 2012


From Daniel Halpern's note on the text of The Sheltering Sky in the Library of America edition:

According to Bowles' autobiography, Without Stopping, the novel's title came first: "Before the First World War there had been a popular song called 'Down Among the Sheltering Palms'. … [I was fascinated by] the strange word 'sheltering.' What did the palm trees shelter people from, and how sure could they be of such protection?"

Bowles' comment suggests that the adjective in "sheltering sky" is meant with some irony, and yet the only time the phrase occurs is in the very last paragraph of Chapter 23—Port's dying breakthrough—indeed, in the very last sentence: "Reach out, pierce the fine fabric of the sheltering sky, take repose." The irony here seems much less evident.


Robert Muir said...

Tim, who is Daniel Halperin?

Tim said...

sometime neighbor in Tangier, co-founder of "Antaeus" magazine, poet in his own right, and editor of Paul Bowles work in the Library of America

jeff said...

One thing that surprised me is the characters never pondered the existence of a god. I don't think that word was ever mentioned (kudos to the author for resisting an easy path). Is this common for existentialism?