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Few world cities can claim to have had as much of an impact on American literature as the Moroccan city of Tangier. The writers who resided in or passed through the city in the 1950s and the works of literature produced there have re-charted the course of American letters. Tangier's status as an international city, its sizable Arab population, and its location situated among the violence of Morocco's bid for independence all undoubtedly helped to inspire the radical reinvention of literature undertaken by its American literary residents. The works of the period reveal men and women struggling to come to terms with who they are, what writing is, and what their American identity means to them. One of the earliest and most prominent of the American expatriates in Tangier, Paul Bowles, embarked on a quest to rid himself of American national and cultural identity by adopting the transnational identity of the Tangerino. Like Bowles, his characters don't try to become Moroccan citizens outright or wholly adopt Tanjawi culture; instead, they attempt to escape their American national identity by becoming residents of the international zone and embracing liminal Tangerino identities, products of both American and Moroccan nationalities and incorporating cultural aspects from each. William S. Burroughs has said in interviews and letters that he made the decision to live in Tangier after reading Bowles' Let It Come Down. With the publication of Naked Lunch in 1958, he expressed both his admiration for the transformative potential of revolutionary violence and his dismay that this potential went unrealized in Morocco. Jane Bowles and Brion Gysin both explore differing ways in which to "go native" and, ultimately, whether such an endeavor pays off in the end. Both her short work and his novel, The Process, each in some way reflects, antagonizes or responds to the influence of the international zone and the notion that Tangier represents (or potentially represents) a place set apart from the American influence. Finally, Alfred Chester and John Hopkins both wrote memoirs in Morocco during the 1960s and 1970s. Their reports reveal a concerted effort to distance themselves from the old style colonialism of the previous generation of expatriates as well as well as their ultimate inability to do so.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of English in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Andrew Epstein, Professor Directing Dissertation; Alec Hargreaves, University Representative; S. E. Gontarski, Committee Member; Barry Faulk, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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