William Seward Burroughs II (February 5, 1914 – August 2, 1997). Adapted from Wikipedia.
William S. Burroughs was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, painter, and spoken word performer. His influence is considered to have affected a wide range of popular culture as well as literature and as a primary figure of the Beat Generation and a major post modernist author, he is considered to be, “one of the most politically trenchant, culturally influential, and innovative artists of the 20th century.”
Burroughs wrote 18 novels and novellas, six collections of short stories and four collections of essays. He also collaborated on projects and recordings with numerous performers and musicians, and made many appearances in films.
After being turned down in 1942 to serve in World War II, he dropped out and became addicted to drugs. In 1943, while living in New York City, he befriended Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, the foundation of what became the counter cultural movement of the Beat Generation.
Much of Burroughs’s work is semi-autobiographical, primarily drawn from his experiences as a heroin addict and the places where he lived: Mexico City, London, Paris, Berlin, the South American Amazon and Tangier in Morocco. Finding success with his confessional first novel, Junkie (1953), Burroughs is perhaps best known for his third novel Naked Lunch (1959), a controversy-fraught work that underwent a court case under the U.S. sodomy laws. In 1983, Burroughs was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and in 1984 was awarded the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by France. Jack Kerouac called Burroughs, “the greatest satirical writer since Jonathan Swift,” a reputation he owes to his “lifelong subversion” of the moral, political and economic systems of modern American society, articulated in often darkly humorous sardonicism.
Norman Mailer declared him, “the only American writer who may be conceivably possessed by genius.”
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