Naked Lunch: The Restored Text (Penguin Modern Classics) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2015/1/29
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Nightmarish and fiercely funny, William Burroughs' virtuoso, taboo-breaking masterpiece Naked Lunch follows Bill Lee through Interzone: a surreal, orgiastic wasteland of drugs, depravity, political plots, paranoia, sadistic medical experiments and endless, gnawing addiction. One of the most shocking novels ever written, Naked Lunch is a cultural landmark, now in a restored edition incorporating Burroughs' notes on the text, alternate drafts and outtakes from the original.
'A masterpiece. A cry from hell, a brutal, terrifying, and savagely funny book that swings between uncontrolled hallucination and fierce, exact satire' Newsweek
'Naked Lunch is a banquet you will never forget' J. G. Ballard
William S. Burroughs was born on February 5, 1914 in St Louis. In work and in life Burroughs expressed a lifelong subversion of the morality, politics and economics of modern America. To escape those conditions, and in particular his treatment as a homosexual and a drug-user, Burroughs left his homeland in 1950, and soon after began writing. By the time of his death he was widely recognised as one of the most politically trenchant, culturally influential, and innovative artists of the twentieth century. His numerous books include Naked Lunch, Junky, Queer, Nova Express, Interzone, The Wild Boys, The Ticket That Exploded and The Soft Machine. After living in Mexico City, Tangier, Paris, and London, Burroughs finally returned to America in 1974. He died in 1997.
He seemed to be a very sick man mentally as well as being spun out of his mind when writing Naked Lunch. However, I think being an avid drug user helped him to write a lot of what we don’t see inside the drug world that does happen. He takes you into the underground world of fetish and S&M lifestyle mixed with a beautiful cocktail of drugs swimming on the pages around you. He is like the Andy Warhol of writing, the Willy Wonka of stories. His imagination is truly unique. Whether it’s all true or not doesn’t matter. He has written something that no other authors can ever come close to.
I don’t think when William wrote Naked Lunch he would have ever imagined the amount of value he added to the writing community. I also believe he opened the doors on homosexuality that he himself had hidden from everyone out of fear of being locked away in a nut house. What people don’t understand scares them and not understanding the pain and grief he must’ve felt hurts me. So many times, out of fear we don’t often say how we feel and I’m sure it was quite hard for him to put this book into words. Even more so how hard it was for him to hide who he really was.
The book itself is not written using a traditional 'narrative.' Instead of having a beginning, middle and end, it's written with a non-linear style-- meaning you can pick it up at any time, turn to any page and read any sentence on any page that you want, in almost any order. Theoretically, if you were so inclined, you could read the book in reverse-- the last sentence first until you finish with the first sentence. In this respect the book is a true work of art. But like I said, it's not for everybody-- and you'll either get it or you won't get it-- and that's okay.
In a sense, the book is like visiting a modern art museum and seeing an abstract painting or sculpture-- it might mean something different to you than the person standing next to you-- or it might not mean anything at all. That aside, Burroughs has been said to have said that the book's title, "Naked Lunch" means exactly what it says: A frozen moment when you see exactly what's on the end of your fork-- or, in layman's terms, when you see something as it truly is. The book also makes several heavily politically charged statements, most notably being against the death penalty.
Many people will ask what the "plot" of "Naked Lunch" is. That's a little hard to explain, seeing the book is written in such a style that it can be read in any order the reader desires. But, I'll give describing the plot a shot: A heroin addict in a dystopian alternate 1950s New York City is on the run from forces he can't quite describe-- whether or not they're "real," he seems to feel there is a very real threat. His paranoia takes him on a journey across the sea to a town in Morocco and eventually to the extremely dystopian city of Interzone and the barren wastelands of Annexia. Along the way, he meets a variety of colorful characters, including the mad doctor Dr. Benway who performs horrendous and abominable experiments on people which transforms their flesh in pure 'bodily horror' style. The main character, Lee, also encounters the "Mugwumps," strange creatures who are omnisexual in nature. If read from start to finish with the right kind of eyes and imagination, "Naked Lunch" is a tale of sex, drugs, murder and mystery set in a nightmarish sci-fi dystopian world that only American writer William Burroughs would ever describe.
If you're confused by the book the first time you read it, don't worry-- you're not alone. I was confused the first time, too. In fact, it's probably best NOT to read "Naked Lunch" first if you're going to get into the works of Burroughs. Start with "Junky" or "Queer," or even "The Wild Boys" (if you're feeling brave) because those have comprehensible narratives with a definite beginning, middle and end (maybe not 'The Wild Boys' entirely, but still more than 'Naked Lunch'). All in all, if you're a fan of 1950s beatnik literature, Golden Age science fiction or just looking for something completely out of the ordinary, pick up a copy of "Naked Lunch" by William S. Burroughs.