The Letters of William S. Burroughs, Vol. 1: 1945-1959

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9780140094527: The Letters of William S. Burroughs, Vol. 1: 1945-1959

"These funny, filthy, and terrifically smart letters reveal him in a way that no biographer can." -- New York Newsday
 
Guru of the Beat generation, éminence grise of the international avant-garde, dark prophet, and blackest of satirists, William S. Burroughs has had a range of influence rivaled by few living writers. This volume of his correspondence from 1945 to 1959 vividly documents the personal and cultural history through which Burroughs developed, revealing clues to illuminate his life and keys to open up his texts. More than that, it shows how letter-writing was itself integral to his life and to his fiction.
 
Beginning as surprisingly formal notes from the road to his friends Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, the letters deepen in substance and style. Then, in Tangier, comes a dramatic shift in voice and vision and the explosive, distinctive letters that will become Naked Lunch. Letters were lifelines for Burroughs, the outcast; and works-in-progress for Burroughs, the writer; and, they track his turbulent journey across two decades and three continents. To read them as they were written is to experience a unique merging of life and letters, the extraordinary story of Williams S. Burroughs homme de lettres.
 
"Unrelenting impact." -- Los Angeles Reader

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About the Author:

William S. Burroughs (1914-1997)—guru of the Beat Generation, controversial éminence grise of the international avant-garde, dark prophet, and blackest of black humor satirists—had a range of influence rivaled by few post-World War II writers. His many books include Naked Lunch, Queer, Exterminator!, The Cat Inside, The Western Lands, and Interzone.

Oliver Harris edited The Letters of William S. Burroughs 1945-1959. He is currently a lecturer in American Literature at the University of Keele.

From Kirkus Reviews:

The MTV generation's idea of an outlaw-writer, Burroughs finds himself a minor/grand old man of sorts--which is why, presumably, this book. These letters were mostly to Allen Ginsberg (whom for a surprisingly long time Burroughs knew only through correspondence), and they're chocked with complaints about the availability of drugs in the US or Mexico, about the fickleness of Tangier boy prostitutes, about publishing Junkie, Burroughs's first book. Very little is made of Burroughs's shooting his common-law wife in the head in 1951 (an ``accident''), very little about the several agonizing heroin cures that he was forced into--experiences that might serve as staining moral crises in another writer's life here seem lightly, affectlessly catalogued. Post-mod scholars will have a field day, however, with the accretion in the letters of the ``sketches'' that would make up Naked Lunch--bits and shticks so easily capsulized to friends in these letters that they call into question the honesty of ever having considered as a ``novel'' the book made out of them. Looking for artistic influences and wellsprings for Burroughs himself will come harder: Burroughs was more interested in the paranoid fringes, in Wilhelm Reich, Westbrook Pegler, and L. Ron Hubbard. He hardly situated himself as a literary fella at all. Early documents from the Godfather of Grunge. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Book Description Penguin Books Australia, Australia, 1994. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Guru of the Beat generation, controversial eminence grise of the international avant-garde, dark prophet and blackest of black-humor satirists, William S. Burroughs has had a range of influence rivalled by few living writers. This meticulously assembled volume of his correspondence vividly documents the personal and cultural history through which Burroughs developed, revealing clues to illuminate his life and keys to open up his texts. More than that, they also show how in the period 1945-1959, letter-writing was itself integral to his life and to his fiction-making. These letters reveal the extraordinary route that took Burroughs from narrative to anti-narrative, from Junky to Naked Lunch and the discovery of cut-ups, a turbulent journey crossing two decades and three continents. The letters track the great shifts in Burroughs crucial relationship with Allen Ginsberg, from lecturing wise man ( Watch your semantics young man ) to total dependence ( Your absence causes me, at times, acute pain. ) to near-estrangement ( I sometimes feel you have mixed me up with someone else doesn t live here anymore. ). They show Burroughs initial despair at the obscenity of his own letters, some of which became parts of Naked Lunch, and his gradual recognition of the work s true nature ( It s beginning to look like a modern Inferno. ) They reveal the harrowing lows and ecstatic highs of his emotions, and lay bare the pain of coming to terms with a childhood trauma ( Such horror in bringing it out I was afraid my heart would stop. ). It is a story as revealing of his fellow Beats as it is of Burroughs: he writes of Kerouac and Cassady in the midst of the journey immortalized as On the Road ( Neal is,of course, the very soul of this voyage into pure, abstract, meaningless motion. ), and to Ginsberg as he was writing Howl ( I sympathize with your feelings of depression, beatness: We have seen the best of our time. ). And throughout runs the unmistakable Burroughs voice, the u. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780140094527

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Book Description Penguin Books Australia, Australia, 1994. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Guru of the Beat generation, controversial eminence grise of the international avant-garde, dark prophet and blackest of black-humor satirists, William S. Burroughs has had a range of influence rivalled by few living writers. This meticulously assembled volume of his correspondence vividly documents the personal and cultural history through which Burroughs developed, revealing clues to illuminate his life and keys to open up his texts. More than that, they also show how in the period 1945-1959, letter-writing was itself integral to his life and to his fiction-making. These letters reveal the extraordinary route that took Burroughs from narrative to anti-narrative, from Junky to Naked Lunch and the discovery of cut-ups, a turbulent journey crossing two decades and three continents. The letters track the great shifts in Burroughs crucial relationship with Allen Ginsberg, from lecturing wise man ( Watch your semantics young man ) to total dependence ( Your absence causes me, at times, acute pain. ) to near-estrangement ( I sometimes feel you have mixed me up with someone else doesn t live here anymore. ). They show Burroughs initial despair at the obscenity of his own letters, some of which became parts of Naked Lunch, and his gradual recognition of the work s true nature ( It s beginning to look like a modern Inferno. ) They reveal the harrowing lows and ecstatic highs of his emotions, and lay bare the pain of coming to terms with a childhood trauma ( Such horror in bringing it out I was afraid my heart would stop. ). It is a story as revealing of his fellow Beats as it is of Burroughs: he writes of Kerouac and Cassady in the midst of the journey immortalized as On the Road ( Neal is,of course, the very soul of this voyage into pure, abstract, meaningless motion. ), and to Ginsberg as he was writing Howl ( I sympathize with your feelings of depression, beatness: We have seen the best of our time. ). And throughout runs the unmistakable Burroughs voice, the u. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780140094527

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