Understanding William S. Burroughs
Understanding William S. Burroughs begins by considering his early, straightforward narratives. Despite being more stylistically conventional, they broke new ground with their depictions of junkies, gay people, and others marginalized by society. The publication of Naked Lunch shattered all literary paradigms in terms of form and content. Naked Lunch and the cut-up novels, recordings, films, and art that followed constitute one of the twentieth century's most sustained and methodical aesthetic experiments, placing Burroughs alongside Franz Kafka, Jorge Luis Borges, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Vladimir Nabokov, and Thomas Pynchon in terms of both innovation and influence.
Burroughs eventually turned his attention toward imagining methods of using the control "machinery" against itself. Often considered his masterpiece, the Red Night Trilogy of the 1980s ranges across time and space, and life and death, in its quest to discover the ultimate form of freedom. His antiestablishment stance and virulent attacks on various types of oppression have caused Burroughs to remain a highly influential figure to each new generation of authors, artists, musicians, and philosophers. The hippies, punks, and cyberpunks were all heavily indebted to the man whom many people called el hombre invisible, and his works prove more relevant than ever in the twenty-first century.
About the Authors
"In Understanding William Burroughs, Gerald Miller conjures a welcome, timely vision of the writer's art. Combining literary history, philosophy and biography, Miller offers uncompromising accounts of an important American artist, drawing him out from the shadow of literary myth to illuminate the kaleidoscopic individual works and career."—Henry Veggian, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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