Happy Birthday, Jane Bowles
Jane Bowles, wife of the poet Paul Bowles and born on February 22, 1917, produced a relatively small body of work during her lifetime. However, the work she did produce was unsettling at the time of its publication and continues to be unsettling today.
Her “novel,” Two Serious Ladies, raises the question: “What is happening?” (“Nothing” and “a great deal” would both be acceptable answers.) It also raises the question: “Is this a novel?”
But regardless of how Jane Bowles’ work is identified, it is work that is interested in constructions of identity: sexual identity, class identity, gender identity. Her work, like her life, is full of such questions and questioning.
In the introduction to the collected works of Jane Bowles, Joy Williams writes:
I can only hope that one or two toasts are raised to Jane Bowles and the somewhat incomprehensible this evening. And to gin–as that would have likely pleased her.