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Het huis van de spin by Paul Bowles

Het huis van de spin (original 1955; edition 1986)

by Paul Bowles

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370429,266 (3.8)27
Title:Het huis van de spin
Authors:Paul Bowles
Info:Amsterdam Contact 1986
Collections:Your library, Literatuur
Tags:20e eeuw, Afrika, Amerika, Amerikaanse literatuur, Beat Generation, Bowles, Klassieker, Kolonialisme, Kolonisatie, Hedendaagse fictie, Fez, Fictie, Literatuur, Midden-Oosten, Marokko, Nationalisme, Roman, Politiek, Verhalen, Verenigde Staten

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The Spider's House by Paul Bowles (1955)


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"Bowles, Paul, The Spider’s House, New York, The Sparrow Press, 1955

The story revolves around two characters from totally different cultures. Alain Stenham is an American author living in Morocco, where he has been for many years. He is writing a novel and is trying to understand the Moslem culture about him. To that end he has learned rudimentary Arabic. Amar, a Cherif, a descendent of Mohamed, is completely untutored but believes he has a spiritual insight which often gives him the confidence to meet new situations in an open and honest way that serves him well.
The story involves a plan of the Istiqlal(the Communists) to begin the uprising that will eventually lead to the withdrawal of the French, and independence for Morocco. Stenham would like to hold back the changes which the future will force on the Moroccan /Muslim culture.
Thru Amar we learn about the fundamentalist belief which guides him and the entire rural population. The appreciation for all Allah has given, no matter how very little, the fatalism involved in the will of Allah, which precludes any fear of death., the recognition that Christians and Jews are tools of the devil, with western women as the most visible with their immodest fashion, makeup, and independence which reveals them as whores, all, with the word of the Koran, underscore his existence as being blessed by Allah.
When Stenham, and an American tourist who eventually becomes his girlfriend and lover and Amar finally meet at the point of a religious celebration and the abortive uprising they begin their struggle to recognize the similarities and most obviously, the differences between their beliefs. It becomes evident that their attempts, outside of their mutual commitment to tolerance, will fail to bridge that chasm. They listen, talk but do not understand that finally the distance between western pragmatism and Eastern fatalism is too great. The story ends with what may be a fatal misunderstanding.
Interestingly, the Communists, or Isqitlal, have the same difficulties that the other Western cultures have. In order to succeed they have to depend on a change in Moslem-based thinking that doesn’t happen. Ultimately, neither the French nor the Communists are able to redirect the fundamental beliefs of the Moslems. As far as I know, not a single Moslem country has ever been converted to a Communist or a Democratic state. 5-03
(less) " ( )
  Dragavon | Sep 30, 2009 |
It was interesting to read while traveling through Morocco, as Bowles' insights into the culture are always dead-on. However, I think I prefer his non-fiction work better. I just don't find his prose that interesting and realize that I'm more fascinated with the setting rather than his storytelling abilities. ( )
  kwohlrob | Jan 19, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061137030, Paperback)

Set in Fez, Morocco, during that country's 1954 nationalist uprising, The Spider's House is perhaps Paul Bowles's most beautifully subtle novel, richly descriptive of its setting and uncompromising in its characterizations. Exploring once again the dilemma of the outsider in an alien society, and the gap in understanding between cultures—recurrent themes of Paul Bowles's writings—The Spider's House is dramatic, brutally honest, and shockingly relevant to today's political situation in the Middle East and elsewhere.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:38 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Classic fiction. Fez, 1954, and American ex-pat Stenham reluctantly accepts a guide for his night-time walk home through the streets of the Medina. A nationalist uprising is transforming the country, much to the annoyance of Stenham, who enjoys the trappings of the old city. His path soon crosses with the young, illiterate son of a healer, another outsider to the newly politicised life of Morocco, in this brutally honest novel of life in the midst of terrorism, violence and the ugly opportunism that accompanies both. Bowles's most masterly novel combines his classic themes: the conflict of Eastern and Western cultures and the trials of otherness.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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