John Donne – 3 – Go and Catch A Falling Star (Pondering the Mandrake Root)

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[Mandrake illustration from a 15thc. manuscript Tacuinum Sanitatis]

Continuing with Allen Ginsberg’s analysis of John Donne’s poem, Go and Catch A Falling Star

AG: ..Yes. She still wouldn’t remain true. In other words,  You got to “go catch a falling star”, “get with child a mandrake root”. Anybody know what that reference is?

Student:  (There was a note on it in the book)

AG: Well, yeah, but it didn’t give you the full thing. It’s the.. On the gallows tree, when.. as (William) Burroughs pointed out, when people’s necks are snapped when they’re hung (and also beheaded, I … Read More

William Burroughs – Creative Reading continues – 7

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[William Burroughs. Photograph by Allen Ginsberg ]

William Burroughs on Creative Reading continues

WSB: Any further questions?

Student: What do you think of all these codes in Lord Jim. You know, he’s writing about all these kind of unexplained code and then, at the end, he’s… he’s killed, kind of, by the native’s code, and Brierly’s suicide that’s a kind of code. I’ve been kind of wondering what Conrad was thinking when he put all these open-ended codes of conduct into the book?

WSB: Yeah, well, so he says, faith in a fixed code of conduct. Now, this … Read More

William Burroughs – Creative Reading continues – 6 (on Books & Films)

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William Burroughs on Books and Films

WSB: I’ve got The Treasures of Sierra Madre on here. Now that, it’s sort of axiomatic that good films are not made from good books. The Treasures of Sierra Madre, I think, is a much better film than it was a book (that is, I read the book after seeing the film. I found the book quite a disappoinment, it didn’t have the punch that the film had at all) . I was trying to think of a case of a really good book that has been made into a good movie, … Read More

William Burroughs – Creative Reading – continues – 5

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[William S Burroughs at the Bunker, New York City, 1985. Photo: Allen Ginsberg]

continues from yesterday

Student: Are you familiar with a story called An Outpost of Progress?

WSB Er…..

Student: It’s a (Joseph) Conrad short-story. And the last half of the movie (version).It’s straight Conrad – two totally paranoid traders, in the heart of the Congo, have a real Gothic Western shoot-out, They think that they’re leading each other on, (but…)

WSB: No, I haven’t, I haven’t read it yet.

Student:  (You really have to…)

WSB: Yeah, but there’s some.. there’s some very … He … Read More

William Burroughs – Creative Reading continues – 4

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[Joseph Conrad (1857-1924)]

Our transcription of William Burroughs’ 1980 Naropa lectures continues from here – . Burroughs on Conrad.

WSB:  An Outcast of the Islands – how many of you have read it? That was, I believe, his second book, No-one? – [surveys the class] – No-one has read it. It’s.. the characters.. there’s nobody comparable to Jim [in Lord Jim], everyone’s more simplified, much more simple characters in that book, and the emphasis seems to be on the sets more than on the characters, but it’d make a good film, because it is essentially a novel of rather … Read More

Valentine’s Day

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February 14th, it’s Valentine’s Day! – and here’s,  once again (how could we better it),  our annual Valentine Day’s posting

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The weight of the world is love. Under the burden of solitude, under the burden of dissatisfaction the weight, the weight we carry is love. Who can deny? In dreams it touches the body, in thought constructs a miracle, in imagination anguishes till born in human– looks out of the heart burning with purity– for the burden of life is love, but we carry the weight wearily, and so must rest in the arms of love at last, must … Read More

William Burroughs Creative Reading (Conrad and Fitzgerald – 3 (Q & A)

[William S Burroughs at The Bunker, New York City, March 1985. Photo: Allen Ginsberg]

William Burroughs on The Great Gatsby and Lord Jim continues from  here

William Burroughs – 3 – Q & A

WSB: How many of you were re-reading these two books (Lord Jim and The Great Gatsby)? Yes..How did you find that they re-read? well?

Student: I think you have to read books more than once.

WSB: You really do, you really do, yes..Well, were you.. did you..were you struck by the parallels and the similarities of the two books?

Student: (Both) the Romantic heroes?… Read More

Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 302

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[Neal Cassady and Jack  Kerouac]

[Neal Cassady to Jack Kerouac – The Joan Anderson Letter via Heritage Auctions]

The legendary Joan Anderson letter is back in the news again. “The seminal piece of literature of the Beat Generation”, Neal Cassady’s epic letter to Jack Kerouac, which, for almost sixty years, was thought missing and then was miraculously rediscovered and put up for auction (only to, surprisingly, fail to reach its asking price) is up for auction again.

The auction date is March 8. Bidding begins approximately February 17th (next week). Full details may be found at Heritage Read More

William Burroughs Birthday (Booklist)

[William Burroughs (1914-1997) – Photograph by Allen Ginsberg] 

William Burroughs Birthday today

See previous William Burroughs Birthday postings here, here, here, here and here

We’ve been serializing (indeed, are in the midst of serializing) Williams 1980 lectures on “Creative Reading”  (see the last installment – here) ”

“Creative Reading” comes off a book-list that Burroughs’ constructed of “Recommended Books”, “Books off the Beaten Path”. (With thanks to Avil Beckford)  here is his list of 27 fiction titles

Two Serious Ladies –  Jane Bowles Let It Come Down – Paul Bowles The Sheltering Sky, Paul BowlesRead More

William Burroughs – Creative Reading 2 (Conrad and Fitzgerald – 2)

[William Burroughs (1914-1997) – Photograph by Allen Ginsberg]

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William Burroughs on Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim continues from here

WSB: There really is so many parallels here that I’m sure that Fitzgerald must have read Lord Jim and certainly was influenced by it and there’s a great deal of similarity. They’re both these very improbable Romantic heroes. How many of you saw the… either of the films. Were they any good?

Student: Not The Great Gatsby

WSB: The Great Gatsby.. Well, I don’t think that The Great Gatsby is film material. I mean all of … Read More