#10681 Naked Lunch. William S. Burroughs.
William S. Burroughs

Naked Lunch

First hardcover edition of Burroughs magnum opus which was originally published in Paris by Olympia Press in 1959. Surreal, cut-up novel, which consists of a series of vignettes that the author says can be read in any order. Abundance of gratuitous images of sex and drug usage led to delays in the publication of this edition because of obscenity laws. Filmed in 1991 by David Cronenberg with Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm and Roy Scheider.

Hardcover. First American Edition, First Printing. Octavo, cloth-backed boards. New York: Grove Press, [1962]. #10681.
Except for a minor binder's flaw to two pages inside (tips of pages folded over), this is a fine copy in a bright nearly fine dust jacket with a 1" closed tear at rear fold and faint wear to extremities. An excellent copy.

Additional Details
Naked Lunch, first published in 1959 by the Olympia Press in Paris, stands as William S. Burroughs' best known work and a significant influence on the Beat Generation's literary movement and the 1960s counterculture. Known for its innovative use of the "cut-up" technique, developed in collaboration with painter and poet Brion Gysin, the novel rearranges text to forge a non-linear narrative, creating a disjointed and surreal reading experience.

Lacking a clear plot, the novel opens with William Lee, Burroughs' alter ego, fleeing U.S. law enforcement in search of his next drug fix. The narrative unfolds through a series of loosely connected vignettes, spanning various locations and characters, each heavily influenced by Burroughs' own experiences and hallucinations. The story weaves through Bosch-esque realms, lawless cities, and totalitarian governments, all deeply immersed in drug addiction, sexual excess, and societal decay. Employing dark humor and grotesque imagery, Burroughs navigates the underbelly of human depravity, sparing the reader no repulsion, while portraying addiction as a metaphor for societal control and the human struggle against oppressive forces. The novel's non-linear and surreal approach, which blurs the lines between fantasy and reality, is often likened to the dystopian genre for its grim depiction of society spiraling into nihilism and anarchy.

The book's controversial content led to a landmark obscenity trial in the United States, delaying its publication by Grove Press. This legal battle marked a pivotal moment in the discourse on censorship and freedom of expression, and helped to solidify Naked Lunch as a major work of postmodern literature.

Naked Lunch has left an indelible mark on literature and popular culture, even cited as a major influence on the cyberpunk genre. William Gibson, in an interview with The Guardian, acknowledged its profound impact on his writing. The 1991 film adaptation by director David Cronenberg is considered a cult classic.