Synopses & Reviews
Since its original publication in Paris in 1959, Naked Lunch
has become one of the most important novels of the twentieth century. Exerting its influence on the work of authors like Thomas Pynchon and J. G. Ballard, on the relationship of art and obscenity, it is one of the books that redefined not just literature but American culture.
This commemorative edition of Naked Lunch is based on the Olympia and Grove Press first editions, but also includes archival material, including a large group of Olympia final-draft typescripts recently uncovered at Ohio State University, as well as unexamined holdings at Columbia and Arizona State Universities. Burroughs scholar Barry Miles and Burroughs's editor James Grauerholz have carefully assembled the definitive text version of the novel. It is accompanied by appendices of numerous unpublished contemporaneous writings by the author, Burroughs's own later introductions to the book, and his essay on psychoactive drugs. For the Burroughs enthusiast and the neophyte, this volume is a valuable and fresh experience of a novel that has lost none of its relevance or satirical bite.
"William was a Shootist. He shot like he wrote with extreme precision and no fear." Hunter S. Thompson
"Of all the Beat Generation writers, William S. Burroughs was the most dangerous....He was anarchy's double agent, an implacable enemy of conformity and of all agencies of control from government to opiates." Rolling Stone
"A masterpiece. A cry from hell, a brutal, terrifying, and savagely funny book that swings between uncontrolled hallucination and fierce, exact satire." Newsweek
"[Naked Lunch] made Burroughss reputation as a leader of the rebels against the complacency and conformity of American society....An outrageous satire on the various physical and psychological addictions that turn human beings into slaves....Burroughss vision of the addicts life, by which we may infer the lives of all of us in some sense, is a vicious death-in-life of unrelieved abnegation, utter enervation and baroque suffering. Dante could not have envisioned such a post-Holocaust, post-apocalyptic circle of hell." Frederic Koeppel, The Commercial Appeal
"An absolutely devastating ridicule of all that is false, primitive, and vicious in current American life: the abuses of power, hero worship, aimless violence, materialistic obsession, intolerance, and every form of hypocrisy." Terry Southern
"A book of great beauty....Burroughs is the only American novelist living today who may conceivably be possessed by genius." Norman Mailer
"Only after the first shock does one realize that what Burroughs is writing about is not only the destruction of depraved men by their drug lust, but the destruction of all men by their consuming addictions....He is a writer of great power and artistic integrity engaged in a profoundly meaningful search for true values." John Ciardi
About the Author
One of this century's most influential writers, William S. Burroughs was born in St. Louis in 1914. He was the author of numerous books, including Naked Lunch, Nova Express, The Ticket That Exploded, The Soft Machine, and The Wild Boys. A member of the Academy of Arts and Letters, Burroughs died in August 1997.