“A BOOK OF GREAT BEAUTY, GREAT DIFFICULTY AND MANIACALLY EXQUISITE INSIGHT”: FIRST AMERICAN EDITION OF WILLIAM BURROUGHS’ NAKED LUNCH, SIGNED BY HIM
BURROUGHS, William. The Naked Lunch. New York: Grove, 1959 [i.e. 1962]. Octavo, original half black cloth, original dust jacket. $4200.
First American edition of one of the most controversial novels of the 20th century, signed on the title page by William Burroughs.
Allen Ginsberg initially drew attention to Naked Lunch in his 1955 dedication to Howl, hailing Burroughs' work as "an endless novel which will drive everybody mad." Jack Kerouac volunteered to type Burroughs' manuscript, but reneged after completing the first two chapters because its disturbing imagery caused him to have nightmares (Miles, 6, 9, 79). It was Ginsberg who finally submitted the unsightly, tattered manuscript that "smelled like trouble" to Maurice Girodias, founder of the Olympia Press and publisher of such other controversial books as Nabokov's Lolita and Samuel Beckett's Watt (de Grazia, 385). First published in Paris in 1959, Burroughs' work was summarily banned in the United States and Britain, enduring a censorship trial in the States and becoming "one of the most clothed books in history" through various expurgated editions that followed (Miles, 108). Maynard & Miles A2.b.
Book nearly fine with tiny marginal stain to page 50, bright dust jacket near-fine with a few spots of faint foxing to rear panel and slight rubbing to extremities. A handsome copy.