Burroughing In Foreign Tongues

William S. Burroughs | Five Translations

Before I get to the first editions I teased you with in the last post (Soon, very soon! Honest!), I wanted to write a post about our selection of Burroughs books in languages other than English. It’s a small but interesting collection.

At left, you’ll find several of Burroughs original writings in translation. The first two, at top, are the Swedish and and the Norwegian translations of Naked Lunch, Den Nakna Lunchen and Naken Lunsj, respectively.

In the middle are two German translations, Die Vier Apokalyptischen Reiter (The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse) and Die Elektronische Revolution (The Electronic Revolution). Interestingly, these two are actually “backed with” the English version. If you flipped them over vertically you would find the original English texts printed on the other side, like records or old pulp twofer books.

At bottom is L’ombre d’une chance, a French translation of Ghost of Chance.

While the German/English double-bill volumes are neat, my favorite of our non-English books is the next one, if for no other reason than I had to do a little more research to find out exactly what it is*. It’s called Apomorphine, published by what looks to be a very interesting small press from mid-century Paris called L’Herne, and contains French translations of several pieces first published in US little magazines. There is no English equivalent of this book, so Google and my very poor French had to duke it out, but I gathered, eventually, that it includes translations of “Apomorphine.” “The Day the Records Went Up,” “Coldspring News,” “The Conspiracy,” “Exterminator!,” “Parenthetically 7 Hertz,” and “Chappaqua, a Film by Conrad Rooks.”

Apomorphine | William S. BurroughsApomorphine (Int.) | William S. Burroughs

Interestingly, the text of this book is printed in three, newspaper-style columns on each page, as you can see from the image on the right.

French Criticism about William S. Burroughs

Our last two books are critical evaluations of Burroughs, both in French. The first, simply titled Burroughs, is by Gerard-Georges Lemaire. The second is William S. Burroughs: La vie et l’oeuvre, by Phillipe Mikriamos.

*Incidentally, searching around for information on Apomorphine led me to a fascinating post by Jed Birmingham at RealityStudio.org, a site for Burroughs collectors. Found here, it discusses (with impressive thoroughness and dedication) the interrelations between Burroughs’s drug use, writing activity, and desire to get clean and respectably published.

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