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Literary Feeder
by Mary Alice Bonita

Here is a gem of sexual feederism found in serious literature. The excerpt below is from the novel The Sheltering Sky written by the celebrated "beat" author Paul Bowles. First published in 1949, the book is about an American couple, Port and Katherine ("Kit") Moresby, who journey to Morocco to discover an exotic world of Berber culture. Along the way Port dies unexpectedly of a feverish illness, and his grieving widow is kidnapped by a caravan of traveling merchants. The leader of the caravan, a man named Belqassim, is enamored by Kit's snow-white skin. He imposes himself upon her and forces Kit to become his new wife/concubine.

The excerpt below is of the marriage ceremony, the conjugal lovemaking, and the subsequent captivity of Kit within a windowless cell wherein she is fattened. Please note, however, that the fat woman mentioned in the passage is not about Mrs. Moresby (at least, not presently) but of an enormous black slavewoman who is her captor.

By bringing these two women together Bowles implies a subtle "before & after" image. The fattening process must have its consequences: the woman who eats fat (as does Mrs. Moresby) will eventually be fat (as is the black slavewoman, whose massive form suggests the logical result of any prolonged feeding). This ability to convey images by implication -- rather than by frank description -- is a hallmark of true literary talent. Lesser writers can cook up a batch of moonshine. But it takes a genius like Paul Bowles to make a subtle vintage wine.

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Excerpt from "The Sheltering Sky" by Paul Bowles:
(pages 303-307 Vintage International 1990 edition)

... As Belqassim fed her [Kit Moresby] a cake, she sobbed and choked, showering crumbs into his face. "G igherdh ish'ed our illi," sang the musicians below, over and over, while the rhythm of the hand drum changed, slowly closing in upon itself to form a circle from which she would not escape. Belqassim was looking at her with mingled concern and disgust. She coughed lengthily in the midst of her sobbing. The kohl from her eyes was streaking her face, her tears were wetting the marriage robe. The men laughing in the court below would not save her, Belqassim would not save her. Even now he was angry with her. She hid her face in her hands and she felt him seize her wrists. He was talking to her in a whisper, and the incomprehensible words made hissing sounds. Violently he pulled her hands away and her head fell forward. He would leave her alone for an hour, and the three [other wives] would be waiting. Already they were thinking in unison; she could follow the vengeful direction of their thoughts as they sat there opposite her, refusing to look up. She cried out and struggled to rise to her feet, but Belqassim shoved her back fiercely. A huge black woman tottered across the room and seated herself against her, putting her massive arm around her and pinning her against the pile of cushions on the other side. She saw Belqassim leave the room; straightway she unhooked what necklaces and brooches she could; the black woman did not notice the movements of her hands. When she had several pieces in her lap she tossed them to the three sitting across from her. There was an outcry from the other women  in the room; a slave went running in search of Belqassim. In no time he was back, his face dark with rage. No one had moved to touch the pieces of jewelry, which still lay in front of the three wives on the rug. ("G igherdh ish'ed our illi," insisted the song sadly.) She saw him stoop to pick them up, and she felt them strike her face and roll down upon the front of her dress.

Her lip was cut; the sight of the blood on her finger fascinated her and she sat quietly for a long time, conscious only of the music. Sitting quietly seemed to be the best way to avoid more pain. If there was to be pain in any case, the only way of living was to find the means of keeping it away as long as possible. No one hurt her now that she was sitting still. The woman's fat black hands bedecked her with the necklaces and charms once more. Someone passed her a glass of very hot tea, and someone else held a plate of cakes before her. The music went on, the women regularly punctuated its cadences with their yodeling screams. The candles burned down, many of them went out, and the room grew gradually darker. She dozed, leaning against the black woman.

Much later in the darkness she climbed up the four steps into an enormous enclosed bed, smelling the cloves with which its curtains had been scented, and hearing Belqassim's heavy breathing behind her as he held her arm to guide her there. Now that he owned her completely, there was a new savageness, a kind of angry abandon in his manner. The bed was a wild sea, she lay at the mercy of its violence and chaos as the heavy waves toppled upon her from above. Why, at the height of the storm, did two drowning hands press themselves tighter and tighter about her throat? Tighter, until even the huge gray music of the sea was covered by a greater, darker noise -- the roar of nothingness the spirit hears as it approaches the abyss and leans over.

Afterwards, she lay wakeful in the sweet silence of the night, breathing softly while he slept. The following day she spent in the intimacy of the bed, with the curtains drawn. It was like being inside of a great box. During the morning Belqassim dressed and went out; the fat woman of the night before bolted the door after him and sat on the floor leaning against it. Each time the servants brought food, drink or washing water the woman rose with incredible slowness, panting and grunting, to pull open the big door.

The food disgusted her: *1 it was tallowy, cloying and soft -- not at all like what she had been eating in her room on the roof. Some of the dishes seemed to consist principally of lumps of half-cooked lamb fat. She ate very little and saw the servants look at her disapprovingly when they came to collect the trays. Knowing that for the moment she was safe, she felt almost calm. She had her little valise brought her, and in the privacy of the bed she set it on her knees and opened it to examine the objects inside. Automatically she used her compact, lipstick and perfume; the folded thousand-franc notes fell out onto the bed. For a long time she stared at the other articles: small white hand kerchiefs, shiny nail scissors, a pair of tan silk pajamas, little jars of facial cream. Then she handled them absently; they were like the fascinating and mysterious objects left by a vanished civilization. She felt that each one was a symbol of something forgotten. It did not even sadden her when she knew she could not remember what the things meant. She made a bundle of the thousand-franc notes and put it at the bottom of the bag, packed everything else on top and snapped the valise shut.

That evening Belqassim dined with her, forcing her to swallow the fatty food after showing her with eloquent gestures that she was undesirably thin. She rebelled; the stuff made her feel ill. But as always it was impossible not to do his bidding. She ate it then, and she ate it the following day and the days that came after that. She grew used to it and no longer questioned it. The nights and days became confused in her mind, because sometimes Belqassim came to bed at the beginning of the afternoon and left her at nightfall, returning in the middle of the night followed by a servant bearing trays of food. Always she remained inside the windowless room, and usually in the bed itself, lying among the disordered piles of white pillows, her mind empty of everything save the memory or anticipation of Belqassim's presence. When he climbed the steps of the bed, parted the curtains, entered and reclined beside her to begin the slow ritual of removing her garments, the hours she had spent doing nothing took on their full meaning. And when he went away the delicious state of exhaustion and fulfillment persisted for a long time afterward; she lay half awake, bathing in an aura of mindless contentment, a state which she quickly grew to take for granted, and then, like a drug, to find indispensable.

One night he did not come at all. She tossed and sighed so long and so violently that the Negro woman went out and got her a hot glass of something strange and sour. She fell asleep, but in the morning her head was heavy and full of buzzing pain. During the day she ate very little. This time the servants looked at her with sympathy.

In the evening he appeared. As he came in the door and motioned the black woman out, Kit sprang up, bounded across the room and threw herself upon him hysterically. Smiling, he carried her back to the bed, methodically set about taking off her clothing and jewelry. When she lay before him, white-skinned and filmy-eyed, he bent over and began to feed her candy from between his teeth. Occasionally she would try to catch his lips at the same time that she took the sweets, but he was always too quick for her, and drew his head away. For a long time he teased her this way, until finally she uttered a long, low cry and lay quite still. His eyes shining, he threw the candy aside and covered her inert body with kisses. When she came to, the room was in darkness and he was beside her, sleeping profoundly. After this he sometimes stayed away two days at a time. Then he would tease her endlessly until she screamed and beat him with her fists. But between times she waited these unbearable interludes with a gnawing excitement that drove every other sensation from her consciousness.

Finally there came a night when for no apparent reason the woman brought her the sour beverage and stood above her looking at her sternly while she drank it. She handed back the glass with a sinking heart. Belqassim would not be there. Nor did he come the next day. Five successive nights she was given the potion, and each time the taste seemed stronger. She spent her days in a feverish torpor, sitting up only to eat the food that was given her...


(*1) Sentence 1, paragraph 5 of the excerpted text: To whom does the word "her" refer? The paragraph is obviously about Kit Moresby. But according to the rules of English grammar, the pronoun could refer to the immediately preceded subject, in this case, to the "fat woman of the night before." (the black slavewoman?) This subtle ambiguity may be intentional. If so, Bowles is giving us a titillating vision of Mrs. Moresby: as a docile slavewoman fattened to the precipice of immobility!