Burroughs archive bought by New York Public Library
The New York Public Library purchased the William S. Burroughs archive, including 11,000 pages of writings (published and unpublished), correspondence, collages, diaries, notebooks, photographs, and 50 hours of unreleased tape recordings. The WBS archive will join the Jack Kerouac archive as part of the Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature. I hope that someday, the entire archive will be scanned and made freely available online for study and mash-up in the Burroughs tradition. (Photo by the amazing Charles Gatewood.) From the New York Times:
Though scholars have never seen most of the material, they were made tantalizingly aware of its existence by Burroughs himself, who published a descriptive catalog of the archive in 1973. Oliver C. G. Harris, a professor of American literature at Keele University in Staffordshire, England, who edited a collection of Burroughs's letters published by Viking in 1993, said the material was the Holy Grail of scholars of the Beat generation.
"My sense is that it will really change the picture of Burroughs that scholars have known," Mr. Harris said, because that picture has been based almost exclusively on Burroughs's work in the 1950's. Much of his more avant-garde experiments, including most of his cut-ups — works created by slicing typewritten text into fragments and rearranging it to create a new narrative — came later, in the 1960's and 1970's...
Much of the archive sheds light on the relationship between Burroughs and the others of the Beat generation, including Timothy Leary, Paul Bowles, Gregory Corso, Terry Southern, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and, of course, Kerouac and Ginsberg.
"The archive is particularly interesting because Burroughs clearly intended it to be read and absorbed as a work of art," Mr. Gewirtz said. Handwritten notes by Burroughs adorn many of the folios of written material, explaining the contents, and the author often added collages of photographs, newspaper clippings or other media to the folders.