The Naked Lunch
Original Wraps. Paris: The Olympia Press, 1959. First Edition. Very Good.
First edition, first issue, with original price listed as "Francs 1.500" to rear wrapper (later issues have "18NF" price sticker). Original publisher's stiff green wrappers; original black, white, purple, and yellow pictorial dust jacket designed by Burroughs. Near fine book with light soiling and spotting to text block edges, a hint of fading to top of rear wrapper, and a touch of wear to foot of spine; unclipped dust jacket with just a hint of spotting to verso, else fine. Overall, an excellent copy in a bright and crisp dust jacket, much nicer than usual. Housed in a red custom folding box. Maynard & Miles A2. The Naked Lunch was first published in Paris as part of The Olympia Press's The Traveller's Companion series, which included other literary classics like Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita (1955) and Henry Miller's Quiet Days in Clichy (1956), among others. The Olympia Press was well known for its liberal selection of literature; many English-speaking authors published their books with Olympia in Paris after being rejected by other publishing houses. Even so, Olympia's publisher Maurice Girodias did not initially want to publish the racy The Naked Lunch, but changed his mind after selections from the novel appeared in literary magazines, including The Chicago Review. The chapters in The Naked Lunch are a series of vignettes, intended to be read independently of one another, that follow drug addict William Lee as he travels to a variety of locations; each story is loosely based on Burroughs' own experiences with drugs in these locations. As John Ciardi commented in his June 27, 1959 review for The Saturday Review, "what Burroughs is writing about is not only the destruction of depraved men by their drug lust, but the destruction of all men by their consuming addictions, whether the addiction be drugs or overrighteous propriety, lasciviousness or sixteen-year-old girls."