William Burroughs

(5 February 1914 – 2 August 1997)

William Burroughs
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William Seward Burroughs II (pron.: /ˈbʌroʊz/; also known by his pen name William Lee; was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, painter, and spoken word performer. A primary figure of the Beat Generation and a major postmodernist author, he is considered to be "one of the most politically trenchant, culturally influential, and innovative artists of the 20th century." His influence is considered to have affected a range of popular culture as well as literature.

Burroughs wrote 18 novels and novellas, six collections of short stories and four collections of essays. Five books have been published of his interviews and correspondences. He also collaborated on... more »

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  • ''Hemingway was a prisoner of his style. No one can talk like the characters in Hemingway except the characters in Hemingway. His style in the wildest sense finally killed him.''
    William Burroughs (b. 1914), U.S. author. "A Word to the Wise Guy," The Adding Machine (1985).
  • ''Man is an artifact designed for space travel. He is not designed to remain in his present biologic state any more than a tadpole is designed to remain a tadpole.''
    William Burroughs (b. 1914), U.S. author. "Civilian Defense," The Adding Machine (1985).
  • ''The face of "evil" is always the face of total need.''
    William Burroughs (b. 1914), U.S. author. Evergreen Review (Jan./Feb. 1960). Deposition: Testimony Concerning a Sickness (1959). The essay was lat...
  • ''A functioning police state needs no police.''
    William Burroughs (b. 1914), U.S. author. Dr. Benway, in "Benway," The Naked Lunch (1959).
  • ''Which came first the intestine or the tapeworm?''
    William Burroughs (b. 1914), U.S. author. Interview, The South Bank Show, LWT (April 12, 1992).
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Best Poem of William Burroughs

Fear and the Monkey

This text arranged in my New York loft, which is the converted locker room of an old YMCA. Guests have reported the presence of a ghost boy. So this is a Oui-Ja board poem taken from Dumb Instrument, a book of poems by Denton Welch, and spells and invocations from the Necronomicon, a highly secret magical text released in paperback. There is a pinch of Rimbaud, a dash of St-John Perse, an oblique reference to Toby Tyler with the Circus, and the death of his pet monkey.

Turgid itch and the perfume of death
On a whispering south wind
A smell of abyss and of nothingness
Dark Angel...

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