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Submitted Literature

Naked Lunch

By William S Burroughs


“Naked Lunch” is possibly one of the most well-known postmodern narratives.  Formed of a series of routines written by Burroughs while he was under the influence of a range of hallucinogenic and opiate drugs, the text is a paradoxically nightmarish and humorous journey through a series of fantastic creatures, hallucinations and paranoid delusions. “Junky” is Burroughs’s semi-fictionalised autobiographical account of his own descent into addiction and documents, in acute detail, features of addiction such as withdrawal symptoms.

Key Themes:

  • Addiction
  • Postmodern Madness
  • Psychosis
  • Revealing Reads

Significant Quotes / Pages

174 – “There is only one thing a writer can write about: what is in front of his senses at the moment of writing….I am a recording instrument….I do not presume to impose ‘story’ ‘plot’ ‘continuity’ … Insofaras I succeed in Direct recording of certain areas of psychic process I may have limited function….I am not an entertainer….

‘Possession’ they call it…..Sometimes an entity jumps in the body – outlines waver in yellow orange jelly – and hands move to disembowel the passing whore or strange the neighbour child in hope of alleviating a chronic housing shortage.  As if I was usually there but subject to goof not and again….Wrong!  I am never here …. Never that is fully in possession, but somehow in a position to forestall ill-advised moves….Patrolling is, in fact, my principal occupation…..No matter how tight Security, I am always somewhere Outside giving orders and Inside this strait jacket of jelly that gives and stretches but always reforms ahead of every movement, thought, impulse, stamped with the seal of alien inspection….”

Reference: William S, Burroughs. 1959. Naked Lunch. London: Flamingo, 1993


- Charley Baker
Date Review Submitted: Friday 20th March 2009