Architecture in Contemporary Literature

The Sheltering Sky: Re-Reading the Perceptual Experience of Desert

Author(s): Emine Köseoğlu * .

Pp: 113-119 (7)

DOI: 10.2174/9789815165166123010015

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


Spatial perception is a process for understanding the spatial environment by conveying information from the stimuli. Stemming from the interaction of humans and their built environment, it is influenced by several subjective and objective factors. Spatial experience, on the other hand, is related to time-duration-familiarity, meaning-interpretation- impressions of the space in addition to sensory and bodily perceptual experiences of the environment. As an impressive medium to reveal the perceptual aspects of space, Paul Bowles' famous novel, “The Sheltering Sky”, tells the story of three characters: Kit, Port and Tunner. The book consists of three parts: Tea in the Sahara, The Earth's Sharp Edge, and The Sky. The trip to North Africa, which the protagonists think will distract them from everything, including the remnants of war, “dissolves” the makeshift relationship through the perceptual mysteries of the Sahara. Bowles embeds the desert as a great allegory in this painful story of travelers who are on a journey of searching for the meaning of their existence. This study aims to reveal that the desert here is directly connected to the sense of non-place through its extraordinary sensory and perceptual dimensions. A phenomenological perspective is suggested and used in an efficient way to understand the lifeworlds of the protagonists in this novel. With the help of a phenomenologist’s point of view, the events, situations, atmospheres, ambiences, conditions and requiems of tenderness of human existence in the world blending in this marvelously told story could be reread. 

Keywords: Architecture, Allegory, Built environment, Bodily experience, Desert, Existence, Experience, Fiction, Literature, Lifeworld, Novel, Paul bowles, Perception, Phenomenology, Space, Sensory, Sky, The sheltering sky, The sahara, Tea.

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