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William Seward Burroughs II

William Seward Burroughs II

Author: William Seward Burroughs II

Dates: 5 February 1914 – 2 August 1997

Nationality: American

Title of Book: Junky

U.S. dollars could buy a good percentage of the inhabitants of Austria, male or female. That was in 1936, and the Nazis were closing in fast.

I went back to the States. With my trust fund I could live without working or hustling. I was still cut off from life as I had been in the Midwest suburb. I fooled around taking graduate courses in psychology and Jiu-jitsu lessons. I decided to undergo psychoanalysis, and continued with it for three years. Analysis removed inhibitions and anxiety so that I could live the way I wanted to live. Much of my progress in analysis was accomplished in spite of my analyst who did not like my “orientation,” as he called it. He finally abandoned analytic objectivity and put me down as an “out-and-out con.” I was more pleased with the results than he was.

After being rejected on physical grounds from five officer-training programs, I was drafted into the Army and certified fit for unlimited service. I decided I was not going to like the Army and copped out on my nut-house record – I’d once got on a Van Gogh kick and cut off a finger joint to impress someone who interested me at the time. The nut-house doctors had never heard of Van Gogh. They put me down for schizophrenia, adding paranoid type to explain the upsetting fact that I knew where I was and who was President of the U.S. When the Army saw that diagnosis they discharged me with the notation, “This man is never to be recalled or reclassified.”


Brief Biography: Burroughs was a primary figure of the Beat Generation and a major modernist author. Most of his work is semi-autobiographic drawing from his experiences of heroin addiction and homosexuality. In its time, his writing was considered experimental and subversive but as one of the major influential writers of the 20th century Burroughs work has been a contributory factor in the shift of social attitudes on addiction and sexuality.