On August 2, 1997, William S. Burroughs died in Lawrence, Kansas, at the age of 83. He was an American novelist, poet, essayist and spoken word performer. Burroughs was a primary figure of the Beat Generation and a major postmodernist author who affected popular culture as well as literature. He is considered to be “one of the most politically trenchant, culturally influential, and innovative artists of the twentieth century.” Burroughs wrote eighteen novels and novellas, six collections of short stories and four collections of essays. Five books have been published of his interviews and correspondences.
The author’s most famous work is Naked Lunch, a collection of vignettes (which he called “routines”) which follow a wandering junkie named William Lee through his (mis)adventures in the US, Mexico and Tangiers. The book was hailed by TIME Magazine as one of the “100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005”.
This clip from “The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg” by Jerry Aronson was shot in 1983; Burroughs talks about his relationships with Ginsberg and others from the Beat Generation, and how Naked Lunch came to be written and published.