William S. Burroughs would have celebrated his centennial tonight had he not died one summer day in 1997. I haven’t read all that much by Burroughs (I haven’t read all that much, actually), although over the summer I bought a second hand battered version of Queer in Turkey, which I enjoyed a lot and a couple of years ago in the Pyrenees I read Cities of the Red Night.
And of course I’ve seen Cronenberg’s film adaption of Naked Lunch.
There is one citation which nicely sums up his work. Burroughs is talking:
- “‘Nihilism, unrelieved despair and negation, misanthropy, pessimism‘ – very much the same set of clichés that greeted Louis-Ferdinand Celine’s Journey to the End of the Night, which to my mind is a very funny book, in a picaresque tradition stretching back to Petronius and to The Unfortunate Traveller by Thomas Nashe. I have always seen my own work in the light of the picaresque – a series of adventures and misadventures, horrific and comic, encountered by an antihero.”