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Site ReadingFiction, Art, Social Form$
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David J. Alworth

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691183343

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691183343.001.0001

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David J. Alworth

Princeton University Press

This chapter considers the work and life of William S. Burroughs, and proposes that Naked Lunch (1959) constructs something like a nightmare image of Latourian sociality: a collective of human subjects and nonhuman objects governed by the logic of putrefaction, or “translation” run amok. The novel not only visualizes a welter of “literal garbage” decomposing in a dumpsite, which Burroughs names the “junk world,” but also assumes the formal structure of a landfill, a site governed by the logic of putrefaction. In other words, rather than simply representing the dump, Burroughs enacts a mimetic relation to it, thereby converting spatial into literary form.

Keywords:   William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch, Latourian sociality, putrefaction, garbage, junk world

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