[Item #5977] The Yage Letters. William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg.
The Yage Letters
The Yage Letters

The Yage Letters

San Francisco, CA: City Lights Books, 1963. First Edition. Softcover. "THE YAGE LETTERS: an early epistolary novel by William S. Burroughs, celebrated author of 'The Soft Machine' & 'The Ticket That Exploded'. Burroughs' 1951 account of himself as Junkie, published under the pseudonym William Lee, ended 'Yage may be the final fix'. In letters to Allen Ginsberg, an unknown young poet in New York, his journey to the Amazon jungle is recorded, detailing picaresque incidents of search for telepathic-halluciogenic-mind-expanding drug Yage (Ayahuasca, or Banisteriopsis Caape) used by Amazon indian doctors for finding lost objects, mostly bodies and souls. Author and recipient of these letters met again in New York, Xmas 1953, pruned and edited the writings to form a single book. Correspondence contains first seeds of later Burroughsian fantasy in 'Naked Lunch'. Seven years later Ginsberg in Peru writes his old guru an account of his own visions and terrors with the same drug, appealing for further council. Burroughs' mysterious reply is sent. The volume concludes with two epilogues: a short note from Ginsberg on his return from the Orient years later reassuring Self that he is still here on earth, and a final poetic cut-up by Burroughs, 'I Am Dying, Meester?' " (Back cover) Third Mind Books is proud to offer one of our very favorite Beat-&-Beyond classics in its very first incarnation: The Yage Letters, the eminently quotable correspondence mostly by William S. Burroughs to his Fellow Founding Father of the Beat Generation, Allen Ginsberg, during 1953 as WSB searched for the ancient Shamanic elixir- Yage. Softcover original in sewn binding, first edition, first printing by the iconic City Lights imprint with all points in Maynard & Miles, A8(a), pgs. 41-43; Shoaf, Section I, No. 8, pg. 29; Schottlaender (new 5.0 edition!), A8(A), pg. 7; Cook, No. 45, pgs. 47-48. M&M notes that the first two (of six) printings of this edition were printed in England where a sewn binding is present, as here. Also, "Printed in England" is stated at copyright page, & this copy is definitely from the first printing (see below). M&M also notes that this first printing was from an edition of appx. 3000 copies published appx. "Nov. 31, 1963,"- a rare mistake by M&M, they must have meant November 30 or December 1. In any case, this writer is struck by the very close proximity of the original publication of TYL with a certain history-renting Presidential assassination- WSB famously considered nothing to be a coincidence. From the collection of Robin Eichele (b. 1941), the noted Mimeograph Revolutionary poet who co-founded the Detroit Artists' Workshop with John Sinclair, & is our good friend nearby. On the title page, near upper edge near right corner, Eichele has hand-written his ownership name, & below that "10-6-(19)64." This date is further proof of this copy's first-printing status, as the second (British & American-printed editions) printing was published during August 1965 per M&M. Following six printings of this first edition, TYL was published in several further editions containing additional material including WSB's notorious Roosevelt After Inauguration routine, referred here only obliquely in a letter (pg. 42, & see our item No. 5903). The definitive edition, edited, greatly re-structured, expanded & with a lengthy introduction by Oliver Harris (the foremost WSB authority & our good friend & colleague at the European Beat Studies Network, ebsn.eu) was published in 2006. While we highly recommend the latest edition as an indispensable resource, no serious Third Mind (you know who you are...) can be without this very first edition-first printing in their collection. So, to paraphrase the immortal words of WSB (see pg. 26), we sincerely urge you to attach yourself to this expedition- in a somewhat vague capacity to be sure. A foundational WSB-Ginsberg collectible in its rarest contemporary form & with distinguished provenance. In relatively quite near-fine condition with mild-to-moderate rubbing, light browning, faint scratching & occasional spotting to front, back covers & spine; light wear & some tiny bumps, creases at edges & corners of same; a touch of light-blue color to "Ya" in "Yage," "ia" in "William" & "ou" in "Burroughs" at front cover (possibly a minor printers' flaw as issued); one very short, mostly closed tear at lower spine-front cover edge with miniscule loss of paper; mild-to-moderate rubbing, browning to edges of text block. Interior fine with mild browning to inner covers & page leaves; Eichele's name & date at upper-right blank area of title page as noted above (an enrichment here); two vertical lines to right of third paragraph at blank right margin in blue ink on pg. 33 (also an enrichment); tiny bumps at corners of some page leaves. Near Fine. [Item #5977]

Price: $100.00 save 20% $80.00