Last Words: The Final Journals of William S. Burroughs

Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
2
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Last Words: The Final Journals of William S. Burroughs is the most intimate book ever written by William S. Burroughs, author of Naked Lunch and one of the most celebrated literary outlaws of our time. Laid out as diary entries of the last nine months of Burroughs's life, Last Words spans the realms of cultural criticism, personal memoir, and fiction. Classic Burroughs concerns -- literature, U.S. drug policy, the state of humanity, his love for his cats -- permeate the book. Most significantly, Last Words contains some of the most personal work Burroughs has ever written, a final reckoning with his life and regrets, and his reflections on the deaths of his friends Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary. It is a poignant portrait of the man, his life, and his creative process -- one that never quit, not even in the shadow of death.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
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Published on
Dec 1, 2007
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9780802197238
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Literary
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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The legendary 1951 scroll draft of On the Road, published word for word as Kerouac originally composed it

Though Jack Kerouac began thinking about the novel that was to become On the Road as early as 1947, it was not until three weeks in April 1951, in an apartment on West Twentieth Street in Manhattan, that he wrote the first full draft that was satisfactory to him. Typed out as one long, single-spaced paragraph on eight long sheets of tracing paper that he later taped together to form a 120 foot scroll, this document is among the most significant, celebrated, and provocative artifacts in contemporary American literary history. It represents the first full expression of Kerouac’s revolutionary aesthetic, the identifiable point at which his thematic vision and narrative voice came together in a sustained burst of creative energy. It was also part of a wider vital experimentation in the American literary, musical, and visual arts in the post-World War II period.

It was not until more than six years later, and several new drafts, that Viking published, in 1957, the novel known to us today. On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of On the Road, Viking will publish the 1951 scroll in a standard book format. The differences between the two versions are principally ones of significant detail and altered emphasis. The scroll is slightly longer and has a heightened linguistic virtuosity and a more sexually frenetic tone. It also uses the real names of Kerouac’s friends instead of the fictional names he later invented for them. The transcription of the scroll was done by Howard Cunnell who, along with Joshua Kupetz, George Mouratidis, and Penny Vlagopoulos, provides a critical introduction that explains the fascinating compositional and publication history of On the Road and anchors the text in its historical, political, and social context.


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