University of Delaware Library
Bookmark and Share
UD Special Collections > Exhibitions > Burroughs at 100 > Next

Naked Lunch

Although more than a dozen excerpts from The Naked Lunch appeared in magazines as early as 1957, occasionally with controversy due to its subject matter, the first complete publication of the novel was the 1959 Olympia Press edition, published as part of the publisher Maurice Giorodias’s Traveler’s Companion Series, an eclectic mix of erotic, often pornographic texts and avant-garde literary fiction. Burroughs’s novel was the third key text of the “Beat Holy Trinity,” but although it is invariably associated with Allen Ginsberg's Howl (1956) and Jack Kerouac's On the Road (1957), The Naked Lunch represents a shift in Burroughs’s writing which became much less narrative and highly experimental, particularly with his experiments with “cut-ups” and his close collaborations with the artist Brion Gysin and others.


Naked Lunch-Grove Press

Naked Lunch. New York: Grove Press, 1962.
Because of U.S. obscenity laws, this Grove Press edition was not released until 1962, despite the 1959 printing date on the copyright page. Two supplementary Burroughs texts–“Deposition: Testimony Concerning a Sickness” and “Letter from a Master Addict to Dangerous Drugs”–were included in this edition.

Prospectus for Naked Lunch. New York: Grove Press, 1962.
This pamphlet contains a review of and excerpt from Naked Lunch along with comments by Terry Southern, Norman Mailer, Jack Kerouac, and others.








roosevelt backRoosevelt After Inauguration
Roosevelt After Inauguration / by "Willy Lee" alias William S. Burroughs.
[New York: Fuck You Press, 1964]

This satirical list of President Theodore Roosevelt’s cabinet appointments was based on a routine devised by Burroughs and Kells Elvins while they were students at Harvard. Roosevelt was first published in 1961 in Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka) and Diane di Prima’s Floating Bear 9, which was seized by the United States Post Office as “unmailable material.” Jones and di Prima were arrested on obscenity charges but no charges were brought. Roosevelt was reprinted in Intrepid 14/15 (Fall/Winter 1969/1970) in the Special Burroughs issue.
Cover designed by Allen Ginsberg.


“Roosevelt after Inauguration”
The Floating Bear: A Newsletter. Edited by Diane di Prima and Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) Issue #9 New York, [s.n.]. (June 1961)

This legendary mimeograph poetry newsletter was edited and published by Diane Di Prima and Leroi Jones [Amiri Baraka]. Number 9 is the most famous issue due to the obscenity trial surrounding William Burroughs’s excerpt from Naked Lunch, “Roosevelt after Inauguration,” and Leroi Jones’s “The System of Dante’s Hell.”



Doctor Benway

Doctor Benway: A Passage from The Naked Lunch, with a new introduction by the author. Santa Barbara: Bradford Morrow, 1979.

Published on the twentieth anniversary of the Olympia Press edition of The Naked Lunch, this excerpt prints the earliest known version of the Doctor Benway routine.












The Naked Lunch. London: John Calder in Association with Olympia Press, 1964.
The first British edition of Naked Lunch features a cover photograph of William Burroughs by Ian Sommerville.



Big Table 1Sections from Naked Lunch were published in two issues of the University of Chicago student-run Chicago Review (Spring and Autumn, 1958). When the editors proposed publishing a third installment along with Jack Kerouac’s “Old Angel Midnight” and Edward Dahlberg’s “The Garment of Ra: Further Sorrows of Priapus,” university administrators suppressed the issue, causing most of the editors to resign. One editor, Irving Rosenthal, quickly launched a new magazine titled Big Table, which published the three suppressed pieces in its initial issue, as well as an additional excerpt from Naked Lunch its second issue.


“Ten Episodes from Naked Lunch,” Big Table 1 (Spring 1959)
“In Quest of Yage,” Big Table 2 (Summer 1959)


“From Naked Lunch, Book III: In Search of Yage,” Black Mountain Review 7 (Autumn 1957)
This extract from Naked Lunch appears under the authorship of Burroughs’s pen name William Lee.




This page is maintained by Special Collections.

  • UD Library Special Collections  •   181 South College Avenue  •   Newark, DE 19717-5267  •   USA
    Phone: USA +1 302-831-2229  •   ©2014