William S. Burroughs

Burroughs, William Seward

William Seward Burroughs, 1914–97, American novelist, b. St. Louis, grad. Harvard, 1936. He was an elder member of the beat generation. Junkie (1953), originally published under the pseudonym William Lee, and Queer (written 1953, pub. 1985) are autobiographical accounts of his drug addiction, homosexual experiences, and the accidental killing of his wife. His best-known novel, Naked Lunch (1959), is a surrealistic depiction of the addict's existence. Burroughs's violent and bizarre fiction contributed to the redefinition of the novel's style and permissible subject matter. Later works include Cities of the Red Night (1981), Place of the Dead Roads (1984), Interzone (1989), and the semiautobiographical My Education: A Book of Dreams (1995).

See his journals, The Retreat Diaries (1976) and the posthumously published Last Words (ed. by J. Grauerholz, 1999); O. Harris, ed., The Letters of William S. Burroughs, 1945–1959 (1993) and B. Morgan, ed, Rub Out the Words: The Letters of William S. Burroughs, 1959–1974 (2012); biographies by T. Morgan (1988) and B. Miles (1993); studies by J. Skerl (1985) and R. Lydenberg (1987).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

William S. Burroughs at the Front: Critical Reception, 1959-1989
Robin Lydenberg; Jennie Skerl.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1991
William Burroughs and the Secret of Fascination
Oliver Harris.
Southern Illinois University Press, 2003
The Daybreak Boys: Essays on the Literature of the Beat Generation
Gregory Stephenson.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1990
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "The Gnostic Vision of William S. Burroughs"
Dystopian Literature: A Theory and Research Guide
M. Keith Booker.
Greenwood Press, 1994
Librarian’s tip: Includes "William S. Burroughs: Naked Lunch"
Mad to Be Saved: The Beats, the '50s, and Film
David Sterritt.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1998
The Long March: How the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s Changed America
Roger Kimball.
Encounter Books, 2000
Historical Dictionary of the 1960s
James S. Olson; Samuel Freeman.
Greenwood Press, 1999
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