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A delightfully odd tale. Written in 1943 by modernist Jane Bowles. In "Two Serious Ladies" we enter the orbit of two women, both teetering on the edge of abjectivity. One of the women roams Staten Island on a spiritual quest, whose path involves random encounters with strange men. The other woman is on a seemingly endless vacation in Panama, languidly passing time. What is the link between these two? They each make preposterous choices that are equally motivated by boredom and curiosity. Somehow this book manages to be humourous in its telling, yet earnest in its pursuit. Bottom line: this story is well written and these women are fascinating. They consistently muster up an unusual species of bravery on their existential quest to knowing themselves.— From Elise's Staff Picks
Two Serious Ladies is the only novel by avant-garde literary star and wife of legendary writer Paul Bowles—a modernist cult-classic, mysterious, profound, anarchic, and funny, that follows two upper-class women as they descend into debauchery—updated with an introduction by Claire Messud, bestselling author of The Emperor's Children and The Woman Upstairs.
Two serious ladies who want to live outside of themselves, Christina Goering and Frieda Copperfield embark on separate quests of salvation. Mrs. Copperfield visits Panama with her husband, where she finds solace among the women who live and work in its brothels. Miss Goering becomes involved with various men. At the end the two women meet again, each transformed by her experience.
Jane Bowles has long had an underground reputation as one of the truly original writers of the twentieth century. Born in New York City in 1917, she lived in Tangier, Morocco, with her husband, Paul Bowles, from 1952 until her death in 1973. Though she wrote only one novel, one short play, and fewer than a dozen short stories over a roughly twenty-year span from the early 1940s to the mid-1960s, Jane Bowles has long been regarded by critics as one of the premier stylists of her generation.