The Yage Letters Redux

Overview

In January 1953, William S. Burroughs began an expedition into the jungles of South America to find yage, the fabled hallucinogen of the Amazon. From the notebooks he kept and the letters he wrote home to Allen Ginsberg, Burroughs composed a narrative of his adventures that later appeared as The Yage Letters. For this edition, Oliver Harris has gone back to the original manuscripts and untangled the history of the text, telling the fascinating story of its genesis and cultural importance. Also included in this ...

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Overview

In January 1953, William S. Burroughs began an expedition into the jungles of South America to find yage, the fabled hallucinogen of the Amazon. From the notebooks he kept and the letters he wrote home to Allen Ginsberg, Burroughs composed a narrative of his adventures that later appeared as The Yage Letters. For this edition, Oliver Harris has gone back to the original manuscripts and untangled the history of the text, telling the fascinating story of its genesis and cultural importance. Also included in this edition are extensive materials, never before published, by both Burroughs and Ginsberg.

William S. Burroughs is widely recognized as one of the most influential and innovative writers of the twentieth century. His books include Junky, Naked Lunch, and The Wild Boys.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This epistolary novel, first published in 1963, is actually a fascinating travel log written mostly by Burroughs of a trip he made to Peru and Colombia in 1953 to track down the legendary yage vine (also called ayahuasca), valued among the Indians for its telepathic and anesthetic powers. After a padding of manuscript history from scholar Oliver Harris (The Letters of William S. Burroughs), we find Burroughs writing to Ginsberg, recording his mostly harrowing, occasionally enlightening experiments with the drug, as well as his experiences picking up stray boys and eluding nosy officials. The second half of the book, dated seven years later, contains letters and poems from Ginsberg to Burroughs from the same region and, in turn, record Ginsberg's more intensely spiritual trips ("visit the moon, see the dead, see God"). When not violently poisoned by the drug, Burroughs attained wild, beautifully rendered hallucinations of the "Composite City," and his reflections on the corruption of government and the insidious spread of disease prove haunting and masterly. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Here's a weird one. Burroughs categorized this as an epistolary novel, but it unfolds as a series of letters between himself and Ginsberg, using their real names. Even editor Harris states in his introduction that he doesn't know if it's fiction or non. Regardless, Burroughs relates his seven-month expedition into South American jungles in search of the fabled hallucinogen yage (you know you're a stoner when). Albeit unusual but still a solid addition to the Beat canon. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780872864481
  • Publisher: City Lights Books
  • Publication date: 1/1/2006
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 180
  • Sales rank: 697,061
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author


William Burroughs (1915-1997) is widely reconized as one of the most innovative writers of the twentieth century. His books include: Junky, Naked Lunch, The Soft Machine, and Cities of the Red Night. Allen Ginsberg is also the author of Howl and Other Poems, which was originally published by City Lights Books in the fall of 1956. Oliver Harris is a professor in Literature and Film in the School of American Studies at Keele University, he is the editor of The Letters of William S. Burroughs (Penguin) and the 50th anniversary definitive edition of Junky (Penguin).

Biography

William S. Burroughs (1914-1997) -- guru of the Beat Generation, controversial éminence grise of the international avant-garde, dark prophet, and blackest of black humor satirists -- had a range of influence rivaled by few post-World War II writers. His many books include Naked Lunch, Queer, Exterminator!, The Cat Inside, The Western Lands, and Interzone.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

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