American experimental writer, born on February 5, 1914 in Saint Louis, Missouri, and died, in the solitude of his retirement, in the first days of August 1997. It is regarded as the greatest storyteller of the "Beat generation" by the sincerity with which confessed his experiences with the world of drugs and by the treatment he/she gave to the themes of a sexual nature.
He studied anthropology and medicine at the universities of Harvard and Vienna. He/She was in the army and served various trades until, in 1943, he/she settled in New York where he/she met Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, which founded the aforementioned literary movement. In 1944 he/she married Joan Vollmer Adams, who died accidentally in 1951.
Drug addict, left the United States to travel all over the world. London, Paris, Mexico, Tangier, were some of the places in which lived between outcasts and drug addicts. Published in 1953, fruit of his experiences with drugs, Junkie, Confessions of an Unredeemed Drug Addict (confessions of an unregenerate abuser junkie) under the pseudonym William Lee. After a detoxification cure wrote Naked Lunch (naked lunch, 1959), works in which Burroughs exposes its belief that any kind of addiction is harmful to a writer, while describes the sordid homosexual and marginal environments. This novel, considered his key work, was banned in Boston because of its provocative sexual language. After a controversial trial, the prohibition is lifted in 1965 and the novel could again go to market. The lifting of this ban meant the end of censorship in the United States. Naked lunch followed The Soft Machine (the delicate machine, 1961), The Ticket that Exploded (the ticket that exploded, 1962), and Nova Express (1964) in which again are the issues that shape his narrative: his friends, the drug addiction and the death of his wife.
In the Decade of the seventies Burroughs expressed his concern for the freedom of man threatened by a just society. His works acquired an apocalyptic tone that is manifest in: The wild boys, (the wild boys, 1971), Port of Saints (1974), Exterminator! (Exterminator, 1973), Cities of the Red Night (cities of the Red night, 1981), Queer (1985), and lands of the West (1987). His most recent publication is the book of memoirs titled my education: a book of dreams (1995).
Burroughs, who preaches the total liberation of the instincts, from the formal point of view from the thematic point of view extended the experiments of Dada, James Joyce and Gertrude Stein. In the narrative structure subjected his autobiographical experience the "cut up" technique, i.e., cut the story to insert fragments of other writers or prints of all kinds, and then reconstructs it, transfigured into a series of surrealist metaphors which express his desire for liberation of rationality. His experimentalism and his vision of a world abandoned by God and disputed by powerful groups that manipulate the psyche have had a profound influence in American society.
Experimenter insatiable, he/she collaborated with other artists in literary, cinematographic, musical projects, etc., and various painting exhibitions. Much of his work (experimental prose, short stories, short novels and essays) is scattered in innumerable magazines and publications.