A pair of Burroughs’ “automatic drawings” from the cycle of Surrealistic experiments he created in Paris while his 1959 novel Naked Lunch was being prepared for publication. Inspired to try his hand at visual pieces by the artist Brion Gysin—who was assisting Burroughs in the organization of the book, and would later become a long-time collaborator—the drawings arrange loose circular spirals and diagonal scrawls, respectively, in rows and columns over the entirety of each page, and echo much of the grid-like work Gysin had been producing in oil at the time.
“Automatic drawing,” where the hand is freed of rational control and allowed to move randomly across the paper, was seen by the Surrealists as a means of expressing the subconscious, an area of particular interest to Burroughs. Pulling his sketches from the same dream imagery that fuelled his writing, Burroughs originally intended the drawings to illustrate Naked Lunch, as he explained in two consecutive 1959 letters to Alan Ginsberg:
"I am enclosing some of the illustrations I have done for Naked Lunch... This is completely unconscious drawing and I do not know what it is until I look at it later, but it is usually associated with what I am writing in very definite way."
"All this in the drawings which are completely automatic — When I describe in writing it is nowhere—And the drawings are giving out—It might be possible to put out selections from Naked Lunch—half text, half drawings."
However, Maurice Girodias, proprietor of the Olympia Press and the original publisher of Naked Lunch, was not interested in an illustrated volume, and while he did utilize one of the series for the dust-jacket, he declined to include any of Burroughs’ other pieces within the book itself. Burroughs, aided by Ginsberg, later pursued publishing the drawings alongside corresponding texts in the United States, but was unsuccessful, and he subsequently filed the works away, where they remained unseen for the next forty years.
4to.; blue ballpoint and black ink; rectos only
Description by Glenn Horowitz Booksellers, Inc