Naked Lunch

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[M&M A2]

Paris: Olympia Press 1959, the first printing with the decorative border around the title page, one of 5,000 copies. Maynard & Miles A2a. Dust jacket with a design by Burroughs. The first printing showed the price of 1,500 Francs printed on the back cover. However, according to the Chronique de la France et des Francais, the franc was devalued and a “new” franc appeared in use on Jan. 1, 1960 not long after the book was published. Any unsold copies of the book were stamped with the new price of NF 18 (18 “new francs”) over the old printed price. Some dealers refer to the stamped copies as a second state of the first printing, but this is not a clear point of issue. Unsold first printing copies were merely stamped, at a later date, with the new price so they could be sold in the prevailing economy. However, according to M&M the first copies printed did not receive dust jackets. These were added “after a month or so.” Therefore, a case could be made that copies without the new price stamp and lacking the dust jacket are the truest first issues since they were sold before jackets were added and before the devalued franc was instituted.

_____ the second printing lacking the decorative border around the title page, one of 5,000 copies. The second printing of the work, issued soon after the first, did not have a dust jacket and had a printed price of “NF 18” on the back cover.

_____ the 1965 reprint with colophon on the last page reading “Copyright 1959, 1965” one of 5,000 copies, according to Maynard & Miles.

New York: Grove Press, first US publication, copyright dated 1959 but actually published in 1962. Maynard & Miles A2b. Although they note that the first printing was 3,500 copies, Morgan writes in his biography that in correspondence between Burroughs and Girodias (Olympia Publisher) it was mentioned on more than one occasion that Barney Rosset (the publisher at Grove Press) was holding 10,000 copies of the book which had already been printed but not yet released for distribution. If this is true, then the first two or three printings of the book were probably released to retailers around the same time, although each, including the first printing is clearly marked. Goodman notes that by March 1963 over 14,000 copies had been purchased by the public. Maynard & Miles specify the publication date as March 21, 1962. But in a publicity release from Grove Press dated October 30, 1962, which accompanied the prospectus for NL, the publication date is quoted as November 20, 1962. Given that US reviews of the books in mainstream media were out in late fall of 1962, it is reasonable to assume that the Grove documents are correct and that M&M got the date wrong. Goodman also notes the correct publication date as November 20, 1962. An accurate printing history of the work, developed from Grove Press archives, is found in Goodman’s book Contemporary Literary Censorship: The Case History of Burroughs’ Naked Lunch (Metechun, NJ: Scarecrow Press 1981).

_____ third printing, identical to the first two printings except the dust jacket has [iii] in small type printed vertically on the rear panel. All subsequent printings have this small Roman numeral which should match the printing of the book. This is an excellent way of preventing the “marriage” of a first printing copy with a later state dust jacket.

_____ eigth printing, two changes from previous printings are noted to dust jacket: the Grove Press catalog number [GP 244] has been added to the bottom spine of the jacket in black printing, and the address of Grove Press given in the lower area of the rear jacket has been changed and now incorporates a zip code. The zip code system was officially adopted by the Post Office on July 1, 1963. One might surmise that all earlier printings of the book were prior to this date, but adoption of the zip code was not immediate and uniform. Still, it is fair to assume that the first seven printings of Naked Lunch were completed within a year of the official publication date of November 20, 1962. Assuming each print run was 3,500 copies, and conjecturing with Goodman’s figures quoted above, it is probably accurate to say that Naked Lunch sold well for such a non-mainstream book: nearly 25,000 copies in its first year. Hardbound in dust jacket which continues to be numbered [viii in this case] on rear jacket panel.

_____ fifteenth printing with zip code in publisher’s address and [xv] on rear of dust jacket. Maynard & Miles note that Naked Lunch was “reprinted perhaps a dozen times.” The fifteenth printing is the highest documented printing.

Taiwan piracy of Grove Press first edition, smaller in both height and width than the Grove edition and thinner as well, but having the same dust jacket design, printed on cheap paper, some copies with Taiwan Booksellers’ stamp on rear leaf. Date of publication unknown, but scarce. Not listed in Maynard & Miles.

London: John Calder 1964, first British publication, one of 4,000 copies, hardbound in dust jacket. This edition was reprinted at least five times. Maynard & Miles A2c.

New York: Black Cat 1966, first paperback printing, one of 25,000 copies. Maynard & Miles A2d.

London: Corgi Books 1969, first British softbound printing, cover is the same as the Calder hardbound dust jacket design. Maynard & Miles A2e.

Secaucus NJ: Castle Books 1973, published by permission of Grove Press, this is essentially a hardbound copy of the first Grove edition having a $6.00 price but showing small changes to printing on the dust jacket: [Burroughs] on the spine is printed vertically, [Castle Books] printed on the spine at bottom of the jacket, and the name and address of the publisher on rear panel are deleted. The text is bound in tan colored paper boards, whereas the Grove example has black paper and buckram coverings. Also, the Castle publication is a quarter inch taller than the Grove edition. Maynard & Miles A2f.

New York: Ballantine Books 1974, first printing of this edition in wraps with the Dali-esque cover design, very surreal looking. Maynard & Miles A2g.

London: Corgi Books 1974, “reissue” as stated in collation, an apparent first edition thus, bound in wraps.

New York: Black Cat 1982, a seventeenth wraps printing copy with a new wrapper design, white printing on black background.

London: John Calder 1982, new edition and first thus, adds a new forward and additional appendices including the so-called “Ugh” correspondence about the book originally printed in the Times Literary Supplement in 1964, bound in plain black wraps with white printing.

New York: Grove Press 1984, Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Limited Edition, one of 500 copies numbered and signed by Burroughs. Hardbound in slipcase without dust jacket as issued.

_____ the trade edition of the 25th Anniversary Edition, hardbound with a new dust jacket design, forward by Jennie Skerl. Printing quantity unknown.

London: Paladin 1986, new larger size British printing in wraps.

New York: Grove Weidenfeld 1992, first thus in wraps. Re-released, along with four other original Grove titles by Burroughs, upon the opening of the Naked Lunch movie.

London: Paladin Books 1992, another movie tie-in re-release, this one has actor Peter Weller as Burroughs on the cover, first printing, bound in wraps.

New York: Acid Books [n.d.], an interesting and undocumented copy of this work printed in New York but in German language, bound in plain red wrappers. No date of any kind but would appear to be late 1980s or early 1990s. No copies found in major libraries around the world via online searching. Included here because published in USA. Scarce.

New York: Grove Press 1992 (actually 1994?), appears to be a first printing but is, in fact, a later printing of the Grove Weidenfeld edition listed above. The print font has changed and the Weidenfeld part of the Grove publishing moniker has been dropped. The reverse of the title page has no edition statement or numbers whereas the previous has numbers 1-10. Researcher Jeff Taylor has identified five discreet variants of this publication which all have the same ISBN.

London: Flamingo 1993, first thus printing with a new introduction by J.G. Ballard, bound in wraps.

New York: Grove Press 2000, 17th printing, with new Introduction by Terry Southern. Another of the changes to this edition as noted above.

London: Flamingo 2001, a new British edition published in a boxed set of 9 volumes by various authors called “The Swinging Sixties,” bound in wraps. Also published separately as a stand-alone volume.

New York: Grove Press 2001, first printing, hardbound in dust jacket. Edited by James Grauerholtz and Barry Miles and subtitled “The Restored Text,” this is an interesting project to correct textual errors and include unpublished material into a “definitive” version of NL. Dated 2001 but not actually published until 2003.

New York: Grove/Atlantic 2004, first printing in wraps and dated 2001.

London: Harper Perennial Modern Classics 2005, first British printing, bound in wraps.

This bibliography of A-List publications by William S. Burroughs derives from Eric C. Shoaf’s Collecting William S. Burroughs in Print: A Checklist and is published online courtesy of the author, who retains all rights. Published by RealityStudio in April 2007.

3 thoughts on “Naked Lunch

  1. First time NL buyers should always beware the married jacket. Some sellers it appears chose to “rub out the word” on the Roman numeral, and with the uncoated Grove jacket it is not difficult to conceal. I own two Grove firsts and both have a suspicious little scar on the back. Very thoughtful marketing considering I bought these in the early 90s.

  2. I have for a long time been wondering if there is any differences in the order of text, or perhaps missing or adding texts in the ORIGINAL 1959 The Naked Lunch Olympia pressing. Is there a table of contents someone can post on here? This question has been driving me mad for years, I hope someone can help!

  3. I have a first edition Olympia, second printing… I THINK.

    It has all the markings of a second printing, except for the price on the back cover, which clearly reads “18 Francs,” rather than “NF 18.” I don’t see this in any of the usual references, and I wonder if this might actually be one of the bootlegs referred to in Maynard & Miles.

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