The Western Lands

The Western Lands

5.0 2
by William S. Burroughs

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The trilogy that began with Cities of the Red Night (1981) and continued with The Place of Dead Roads (1983) is completed here, and the result is a divine comedy. Although this final volume is a significant work on its own merits, one must wade through the chaotic and at times unintelligible Cities and the more coherent though by no means easy Place to fully understand why The Western Lands is a remarkable achievement. While the plot resists encapsulation, in general terms it concerns the search for eternal rest that is symbolized by the Western Lands of Egyptian mythology. Among those involved in the quest are many characters from the earlier books in the trilogy, as well as a few from Naked Lunch; not the least of them is Burroughs himself. While Burroughs's ability to create and describe vast, hellish landscapes has never been denied, often there has been no character with whom the reader can empathize. Here, however, an empathetic bond is established in passages describing the fear of death, where Burroughs speaks more directly than usual, sometimes in the guise of old, forgotten novelist William Seward Hall, sometimes forthrightly and freely in his authorial voice. As a result, Burroughs fans will find this narrative vivid, horrifying, beautiful and sad. (December)
Library Journal
This novel concludes the trilogy begun in Cities of the Red Night ( LJ 11/15/80) and The Place of the Dead Roads ( LJ 2/1/84). The title refers to the place in ancient Egyptian mythology where souls journeyed in search of immortality. Characters from Burroughs's earlier works reappear; the dreamlike prosestylistically a mixture of straight-forward and surrealistic narrative, with sparse use of the cut-up method Burroughs developed with the late Brion Gysinabounds with images of violent homosexuality, man-eating insects, and rancid decay as Burroughs explores such themes as addiction, mortality, the survival of the species, and the quest for eternal life. Essential for all serious literature collections. William Gargan, Brooklyn Coll. Lib., CUNY

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Western Lands Trilogy, #3
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.08(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.63(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

William S. Burroughs (1914–1997) was an American author, painter, and spoken-word performer who has had a wide-ranging influence on American culture. Jack Kerouac called him the “greatest satirical writer since Jonathan Swift.” Norman Mailer declared him “the only American writer who may be conceivably possessed by genius.” A postmodernist and a key figure of the beat generation, he focused his art on a relentless subversion of the moral, political, and economic conventions of modern American society, as reflected in his often darkly humorous and sardonic satire. He wrote eighteen novels and novellas, six short-story collections, and four collections of essays. No fewer than five books of his interviews and correspondence have been published. He also collaborated on projects and recordings with numerous performers and musicians and made many appearances in films. He was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1983 and in the following year was appointed to the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government.

Ray Porter is an AudioFile Earphones Award–winning narrator and fifteen-year veteran of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He has appeared in numerous films and television shows, including Almost Famous, ER, and Frasier.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
February 4, 1914
Date of Death:
August 2, 1997
Place of Birth:
St. Louis, Missouri
Place of Death:
Lawrence, Kansas
Los Alamos Ranch School; A.B., Harvard University, 1936; graduate study, 1938

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Western Lands 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book marks the culmination of one mans quest for truth, as well as a place for himself, in a world that had always treated him as an outsider. In his short story 'Priest they Called Him' Burroughs creates the character of an old junkie who has transformed himself into an underworld sage. This character obviously is closely related to another Burroughs character: Hassan I Sabbah, the Old Man of the mountain. Far from being simply a character HIS was also a real person whom Burroughs was obviously fascinated with and whom he used to develope much of his own personal philosophy. In the Western Lands these two characters fuse into one along with a little bit of Kim Carsons thrown in to demonstrate Burroughs as the fully matured mystic that he always strived to be. Burroughs is, of course, not an orthodox cleric but this is what makes him so attractive to those of us who feel spiritually awakened but do not feel satisfied with the religions of the day. Summarily, The Western Lands' true message is that the road to spiritual fullfilment is a long, hard, solitary path that only a few can fully navigate and attain whatever one feels is the ultimate goal, immortality maybe. Lastly, this road is not one to be gained by submitting oneself to the so-called slave religions like Christianity and islam because these paths only lead to psychic vampirism and the second and final death.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago