01 March 2007

The Naked Lunch. William S. Burroughs. 1959

William S. Burroughs. THE NAKED LUNCH. Olympia Press, Paris, 1959.

Current Selling Prices
$2000+ /£1200 Want level 25-50 Highish

Key work of beat and drug literature. Burroughs drug of choice was heroin. Smack and sodomy. He was outspokenly gay, something uncommon in the fifties. His frankness in dealing with these issues and the sureness of his prose style won him great respect among fellow beats. The book is a green paperback like most Olympia Press books. It can come in a mauve and white stiffish jacket. The first issue of the book should have the 'old franc' price on the rear cover i.e. 1500 Francs and a green border around the title page.

VALUE? 5000 copies were printed so it isn't scarce but bright fresh first state copies in jacket can get catalogued at up to 5 even 6000 dollars. Whether this is achieved is difficult to say. Used and well read copies can make a $100 and over, we sold a loathsome copy on ebay for $200 ( the guy never paid but that's another story.) The US Grove Press that some optimists want over a $1000 for is, in fact , a bit of dog and decent copies can be had in the low hundreds. 3500 were printed ('a tiny printing' proclaims one online duffer.) With Burroughs nothing is predictable - a copy of a Grove first inscribed to Paul Bowles was said to have changed hands in 2005 for the price of a very high end Mercedes, kind of a freak not to say bananas price and likely never to be repeated until the year 2525. Apart from a taste for bangh and boys there is little to connect the two cats. Meanwhile slightly duff copies of the Olympia edition are traded daily on ebay at modest prices. There are 6 of the Olympia and 5 of the Grove up there this very day.


Anonymous said...

I would like to hear your thoughts on the growth potential of the Naked Lunch Grove Press. Unsigned copies are posted for $1500 in fine condition. Signed copies are getting close to $3000-4000 on Abebooks. Due to the print run (granted not small at 3500) could it challenge the Olympia title? This seems crazy but prices for the Grove Press signed seems to be rising. Also I would like to see your thoughts on the Digit Junkie. How rare is this book really? How many have you seen over the years. A truly beat copy got $2750 (cover and pages separated but intact; repair possibilities i guess on ebay to a dealer and it was flipped. A signed copy sold for $9000 and that was flipped for close to double. What are the chances for a box of Digit Junkies turning up?

Bookride said...

Thanks. For some reason I don't believe in the growth potential of the Grove editions, although it was a Grove that the artist Prince suppoosedly paid circa $300K for. Maybe it is rising due to Francophobia! I could be wrong but ABE dealers aren't 'getting' the price but charging it, a vital difference (ABE is full of ambitious, often deluded pricing)--the surest test is Ebay prices, that's what people are actually paying. Must check them but they are probably much more modest. My feeling is that a box of Digit paperbacks of Junkie is unlikely to surface unless someone finds a paperback shop that 'went dark' in the 1950s and was then sealed off-- a sort of time capsule. I have seen about 10 of them over the years but only owned it once--it is not easy esp in superior condition--however WSB was a fairly easy touch when it came to signing. I prefer the Olympia of 'Lunch' and in fact I am tring to sell a very nice one at circa $1500 on ABE without a flicker of interest so far.

Just looked on Ebay one not very nice unsigned jacketed copy of the Grove went through at $180 last week and a much nicer copy at $451 with an interesting note --'The Grove edition is substantially different from the Olympia Press edition and is based on an earlier 1958 revision of the text that Allen Ginsberg had in his possession...' N

Photo One Studios said...

I also have a copy of the OLYMPIA PRESS version of The Naked Lunch, No 76 Travellers Companion from Paris 1959 (Green).

I am not a collector but know it is worth something substantial.

Would you or anyone know who would like to buy it and for how much?

I wouldlike to sell soon and have a coupel offers already.

Please contact me @ bradnet2000@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

... love the blog: cheers, ears!

a congenial drinking buddy of mine had all the olympias with lengthy dedications from wild bill (my friend had lived at the beat hotel for a while). when he was in his cups, he'd insist on gifting the lot to me, as I was something of a burroughs fan at the time. but i always demurred; figuring him to think the better of it the following day.

couple years later, he suffered an untimely stroke. rip! but what happened to those books...?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if there were textual differences in the later Olympia printings? I just want to read a copy of the original edit. I don't care about collecting or condition. I just want to read it. The cheaper the better.

Photo One Studios said...

Hello..I have a copy of this book...what price are you looking for.

Anything about it that would help me help you know that its the one your are looking for?

Want to see pictures?

Am willing to seell and not looking for a super high price, as it was a lucky find.

Email bradent2000@gmail.com for details and photos.

Cheers, Brad