Naked Lunch | Study Guide

William Burroughs

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Naked Lunch | Chapter 24 : Atrophied Preface | Summary



Burroughs explains the purpose of his book—to explain the experience of drug addiction. He relates some stories of drug-fueled exploits in Marrakech and Tangier. He calls Naked Lunch "a blueprint, a How-To book." He ends by declaring his intention to "unlock" his "word horde," giving rise to the series of disjointed phrases that follow.


The preface comes at the end of Naked Lunch, which speaks to its nonlinear and surreal style. In this preface the reader gets an explanation of sorts about the purpose of Naked Lunch and the ideas Burroughs hopes the novel will communicate. Burroughs writes as himself here, no longer hiding behind the alter ego of the narrator. He explains the novel is meant to provide a blueprint of the life of a drug addict. The opening of the "word horde" also implies the style of the novel is deliberately experimental in its use of language and form—or lack thereof. The spelling of horde, as a homonym of hoard, suggests both the aggressive, destructive uses of language, as well as the way in which Burroughs, as a writer, accumulates and prizes language, especially strange language.

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