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Rub Out the Words

The Letters of William S. Burroughs 1959-1974

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eBook published by Ecco (HarperCollins)

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About This Book

William S. Burroughs was one of the twentieth century’s most iconoclastic literary and artistic figures, an inimitable writer whose groundbreaking work in novels such as Junky and Naked Lunch forever altered the shape of American culture. Now, in this long anticipated collection, editor Bill Morgan takes readers through Burroughs’ correspondence from the early sixties through the mid-seventies, in more than three hundred letters that document Burroughs’ steady drift away from the Beat circle and that witness an era in which he became the center of a new coterie of creative people who would establish his reputation as an influential artistic and cultural leader beyond the literary world, toward multimedia.

Written to recipients such as Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Jack Kerouac, Timothy Leary, and Burroughs’ son, Billy Burroughs Jr., these letters shed new light on the writer’s controversial artistic process and literary experimentation, as well as his complex personal life. Here are letters to new friends in North Africa and Eur-ope—partners in Burroughs’ expatriate life—including Paul Bowles, Ian Sommerville, Michael Portman, Alex Trocchi, and the surrealist artist Brion Gysin, who became a close confidant and whose “cut-up method” would deeply influence Burroughs’ writing.

An intimate glimpse into the private life of an often misunderstood artist, Rub Out the Words is also an unforgettable portrait of one of the twentieth century’s most uncompromising literary personalities.

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William S. Burroughs was one of the twentieth century’s most iconoclastic literary and artistic figures, an inimitable writer whose groundbreaking work in novels such as Junky and Naked Lunch forever altered the shape of American culture. Now, in this long anticipated collection, editor Bill Morgan takes readers through Burroughs’ correspondence from the early sixties through the mid-seventies, in more than three hundred letters that document Burroughs’ steady drift away from the Beat circle and that witness an era in which he became the center of a new coterie of creative people who would establish his reputation as an influential artistic and cultural leader beyond the literary world, toward multimedia.

Written to recipients such as Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Jack Kerouac, Timothy Leary, and Burroughs’ son, Billy Burroughs Jr., these letters shed new light on the writer’s controversial artistic process and literary experimentation, as well as his complex personal life. Here are letters to new friends in North Africa and Eur-ope—partners in Burroughs’ expatriate life—including Paul Bowles, Ian Sommerville, Michael Portman, Alex Trocchi, and the surrealist artist Brion Gysin, who became a close confidant and whose “cut-up method” would deeply influence Burroughs’ writing.

An intimate glimpse into the private life of an often misunderstood artist, Rub Out the Words is also an unforgettable portrait of one of the twentieth century’s most uncompromising literary personalities.

Product Details
eBook (480 pages)
Published: February 7, 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins
Imprint: Ecco
ISBN: 9780062096777
Other books byWilliam S. Burroughs
  • The Soft Machine

    The Soft Machine
    The Restored Text
    A total assault on the powers that turn humans into machines by writing and fixing our life scripts, Burroughs’ original “cut-up” book was itself rewritten in three different forms. This new edition of The Soft Machine clarifies for the first time the extraordinary history of its writing and rewriting, demolishes the myths of his chance-based writing methods, and demonstrates for a new generation the significance of Burroughs’ greatest experiment. Edited from the original manuscripts by renowned Burroughs scholar Oliver Harris, this revised edition incorporates an introduction and appendices of never before seen materials.

    The Ticket That Exploded

    The Ticket That Exploded
    The Restored Text
    As this new edition reveals, the cultural reach of The Ticket That Exploded has expanded with the viral logic of Burroughs’s multimedia methods, recycling itself into our digital environment. A last chance antidote to the virus of lies spread by the ad men and con men of the Nova Mob, Burroughs’s book is an outrageous hybrid of pulp science fiction, obscene experimental poetry, and manifesto for revolution—as fresh today as it ever has been. Edited from the original manuscripts by renowned Burroughs scholar Oliver Harris, this revised edition incorporates an introduction and appendices of never before seen materials.

    Naked Lunch

    Naked Lunch
    The Restored Text
    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 relationship of art and obscenity, it is one of the books that redefined not just literature but American culture. For the Burroughs enthusiast and the neophyte, this volume—that contains final-draft typescripts, numerous unpublished contemporaneous writings by Burroughs, his own later introductions to the book, and his essay on psychoactive drugs—is a valuable and fresh experience of a novel that has lost none of its relevance or satirical bite.

    And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks

    And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks
    In the summer of 1944, a shocking murder rocked the fledgling Beats. William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, both still unknown, we inspired by the crime to collaborate on a novel, a hard-boiled tale of bohemian New York during World War II, full of drugs and art, obsession and brutality, with scenes and characters drawn from their own lives. Finally published after more than sixty years, this is a captivating read, and incomparable literary artifact, and a window into the lives and art of two of the twentieth century’s most influential writers.

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