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9780007204441

Naked Lunch: The Restored Text (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)

Burroughs, William S. Author

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9780007204441: Naked Lunch: The Restored Text (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)

The anarchic, phenomenally strong-selling classic from the godfather of the Beats, featuring for the first time the restored text, all the accompanying essays, and newly discovered material from the original manuscript. Revitalised with a cool new jacket and an anecdote-packed P.S. Section. Welcome to Interzone! Say hello to Bradley the Buyer, the best narcotics agent in the business. Check yourself into the hospital where Dr Benway works -- but don't expect adrenalin if you need it (the night porter shot it up for kicks). Meet Dr 'Fingers' Schafer, the Lobotomy Kid, and his greatest creation, 'The Complete American De-anxietized Man', a marvel of invasive psychiatry who has been reduced to nothing but a spinal cord. Told by an Ivy League-educated narcotics addict, 'Naked Lunch' juxtaposes two journeys: the narrator's physical progress from America to North Africa, via Mexico, and a terrifying descent into his own altered consciousness. In this 'Interzone', loosely based on Burroughs' temporary home of Tangier, sex, drugs and murder are the most basic of commodities, and the basest desires have become completely banal. Provocative, influential, morbidly fascinating and mordantly funny, 'Naked Lunch' takes us on an exhilarating ride through the darkest recesses of the human psyche -- a ride which stunned the literary world when first published in the repressed 1950s, and is still guaranteed to epater more than a few bourgeois. Over forty years since first publication, Burroughs scholar Barry Miles and Burroughs' longtime editor James Grauerholz have compiled this definitive restored text, correcting numerous errors that have accumulated over the years, and incorporating all of Burroughs' notes and accompanying essays. Most exciting of all, this edition includes an appendix of newly discovered, never before seen material -- including alternate drafts from the original manuscript and letters from Burroughs' private correspondence.

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Review:

"He was," as Salon's Gary Kamyia notes, "20th-century drug culture's Poe, its Artaud, its Baudelaire. He was the prophet of the literature of pure experience, a phenomenologist of dread.... Burroughs had the scary genius to turn the junk wasteland into a parallel universe, one as thoroughly and obsessively rendered as Blake's."

Why has this homosexual ex-junkie, whose claim to fame rests entirely on one book--the hallucinogenic ravings of a heroin addict--so seized the collective imagination? Burroughs wrote Naked Lunch in a Tangier, Morocco, hotel room between 1954 and 1957. Allen Ginsberg and his beatnik cronies burst onto the scene, rescued the manuscript from the food-encrusted floor, and introduced some order to the pages. It was published in Paris in 1959 by the notorious Olympia Press and in the U.S. in 1962; the landmark obscenity trial that ensued served to end literary censorship in America.

Burroughs's literary experiment--the much-touted "cut-up" technique--mirrored the workings of a junkie's brain. But it was junk coupled with vision: Burroughs makes teeming amalgam of allegory, sci-fi, and non-linear narration, all wrapped in a blend of humor--slapstick, Swiftian, slang-infested humor. What is Naked Lunch about? People turn into blobs amidst the sort of evil that R. Crumb, in the decades to come, would inimitably flesh out with his dark and creepy cartoon images. Perhaps the most easily grasped part of Naked Lunch is its America-bashing, replete with slang and vitriol. Read it and see for yourself.

About the Author:

William Burroughs was born in St Louis, Missouri in 1914. Immensely influential among the Beat writers of the 1950s -- notably Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg -- he already had an underground reputation before the appearance of his first important book, 'Naked Lunch'. Originally published by the daring and influential Olympia Press (the original publishers of Henry Miller) in France in 1959, it aroused great controversy on publication and was not available in the US until 1962 and in the UK until 1964. The book was adapted for film by David Cronenberg in 1991.

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