Luggage: Paul Bowles
Moroccan literature, steamships, unlimited baggage, Sahara Desert, songs of nomads.
Dapper world-traveler Paul Bowles loved his luggage almost as much as the desert sun. Bowles, a Tangier of considerable fashion sense, wrote novels, composed music, and translated Moroccan and Spanish literature. In his time, mainly the ‘30s through the early ‘70s, he journeyed to Paris, French North Africa, Mexico, and Sri Lanka, often by his preferred means of travel – steamship. The impeccably dressed Bowles appreciated the almost unlimited baggage space offered to passengers, unlike that available to those who traveled via plane, Bowles’ most-hated mode of transportation.
Though the eccentric and baggage-laden traveler lived a bohemian life, dressing for the part was an important aspect of travel for him. Bowles brought a whole trunk of neckties the first time he explored the Sahara Desert, and he often relaxed at home in the hot Tangier summers wearing a tweed coat, tie, cardigan and loafers. In “Beyond Bloomsday: Timeless Style Traits of 5 Literary Icons,” Esquire’s Style Blog describes Bowles as the “first to record songs of nomads in the notoriously harsh Atlas Mountains of Southern Morocco for the Library of Congress… presumably, in a perfectly tailored dusty white suit.”
After Bowles’s wife Jane passed away and he stopped traveling, his eclectic collection of suitcases, trunks, carrying bags and valises stayed stacked in the writer’s apartment, baggage tags yellowing in the humid air: always ready, yet never used again.