Bowles & Kerouac and the Legation

TALIM Paul Bowles by Laurence Mynott

Paul Bowles by Lawrence Mynott, TALIM museum Tangier

The Beats go on. 

Actually, that line has already been used, but in the sense of the everlasting interest in the Beats, it can certainly be said of Tangier.

Just this week, on BBC World TV, "Fast Track" ran a cultural tourism segment on Tangier which features Kerouac, Bowles, and the Legation.

Tangier's Paul Bowles, though he knew many of the Beat writers, was not one himself: "It's wrong.  I was never a Beat writer."  Several of his Beat friends, however, were drawn to Tangier because of Bowles.

This year's film release of "On The Road," coupled with what would have been Jack Kerouac's 90th birthday, has rekindled interest in the American writer whose native language was joual, or the French his Québecois immigrant parents spoke at home in Lowell, Massachusetts.

There have been "On The Road" documentaries, and now, as part of Tangier's "Correspondances" literary festival, an evocation of Kerouac by French literary critic and writer Bernard Comment.  Among his other works, Comment read from Kerouac's Desolation Angels, which includes "Passing Through Tangiers, France, and London."

TALIM CorrespondancesThe American Legation hosted the Kerouac event, replete with Comment's presentation plus readings of Kerouac in both French and English – the latter by our ubiquitous Fulbright scholar, George Bajalia.

Thanks to a loan from the Institut Français du Nord's Galérie Delacroix, we showed "Un Hommage à Jack Kerouac," part of Jean-Pierre Loubat's photography exhibit on literary Tangier, "Tanger la Fugitive."

There is great interest here in the American role in Tangier's rich literary life.  In addition to BBC's Fast Track segment, whose crew came here last year to film our Paul Bowles Wing, this week we've had a team here from Berlin Radio, recording a program on Tangier and Bowles.  They are particularly interested in the Bowles Library of Congress recordings that are housed at TALIM.  This is the third German radio program on Bowles in the last two years.

Bernard Comment provided us a chance to listen to Kerouac himself, the best possible introduction to his uninterrupted flow of prose, his "beat" which gave its name to the generation of writers.

George Bajalia's heroic reading of excerpts he'd seen 45 minutes before the event from On The Road was a virtuoso delivery of a manuscript that Kerouac originally typed non stop on a 40 meter long scroll of paper over a period of just three weeks with no punctuation or chapters if you please imagine that but his publisher made him retype the 400 pages and then rejected it.

Jack Kerouac:

TALIM Colonnes Kerouac

Gerald Loftus

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