“You were not there for the beginning. You will not be there for the end": First Edition of William S. Burroughs' Naked Lunch; Signed by Him With the original prospectus

  • Naked Lunch.
  • Naked Lunch.

Naked Lunch.


Item Number: 87577

New York: Grove Press, Inc, 1962.

First American edition, first issue jacket with no zip code on rear panel and no roman numerals on lower spine near back panel of Burroughs’ classic novel. Octavo, original cloth. Signed by William S. Burroughs on the title page. Fine in a near fine price-clipped dust jacket with a touch of rubbing. Included is the original prospectus issued by Grove Press prior to publication. Photograph of Burroughs on the rear panel by Martha Rocher. An exceptional example, scarce with the original prospectus.

Naked Lunch is considered Burroughs' seminal work. Extremely controversial in both its subject matter and its use of obscene language (something Burroughs recognized and intended), the book was banned in Boston and Los Angeles in the United States, and several European publishers were harassed. It was one of the more recent American books over which an obscenity trial was held. The book was banned in Boston in 1962 due to obscenity (notably child murder and acts of pedophilia), making it among the last works to be banned in that city, but that decision was reversed in 1966 by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The Appeals Court found the book did not violate obscenity statutes, as it was found to have some social value. The hearing included testimony in support of the work by Allen Ginsberg and Norman Mailer. Burroughs states in his introduction that Jack Kerouac suggested the title. "The title means exactly what the words say: naked lunch, a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork." In a June 1960 letter to Allen Ginsberg, Kerouac said that he was pleased that Burroughs had credited him with the title. He states that Ginsberg misread "Naked Lust" from the manuscript, and only he noticed. Kerouac did not specify which manuscript and critics could only speculate until 2003 when Burroughs scholar Oliver Harris established that, in his Lower East Side apartment in fall 1953, Ginsberg had been reading aloud to Kerouac from the manuscript of Queer, which Burroughs had just brought with him from Mexico City.[8] For the next five years, Burroughs used the title to refer to a three-part work made up of 'Junk,' 'Queer' and 'Yage,' corresponding to his first three manuscripts, before it came to describe the book later published as Naked Lunch, which was based largely on his 1957 'Interzone' manuscript. It was named by Time Magazine's "100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005". In 1991, David Cronenberg directed a film of the same name based on the novel and other Burroughs writings.

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