The Nova Trilogy (The Cut-up Trilogy) – William S. Burroughs

The Nova Trilogy or The Cut-up Trilogy is a name commonly given by critics to a series of three experimental novels by William S. Burroughs: The Soft Machine (1961, revised 1966 and 1968), The Ticket That Exploded (1962, revised 1967) and Nova Express (1964). Like Naked Lunch, The Soft Machine derived in part from The Word Hoard, a number of manuscripts Burroughs wrote mainly in Tangier, between 1954 and 1958. All three novels use the cut-up technique that Burroughs invented in cooperation with painter and poet Brion Gysin and computer programmer Ian Sommerville. Commenting on the trilogy in an interview, Burroughs said that he was ‘attempting to create a new mythology for the space age’. In 2014, restored editions of the three novels were published, edited by Burroughs scholar Oliver Harris. The new editions made a number of changes to the texts and included notes and previously unpublished materials that showed the complexity of the books’ manuscript histories and the precision with which Burroughs used his methods. The Trilogy is viewed by critics as being one of Burroughs’s most radical experimentations with narrative form. All three novels are crafted using the cut-up method, in which existing texts are cut into various pieces and put back together in random order. … As a result, the novels that make up the trilogy are even more sporadic in plot and structure than Naked Lunch. Burroughs spoke of the trilogy as a ‘sequel,’ and ‘mathematical extension’ of the themes and techniques of Naked Lunch. The Soft Machine is the first book in the trilogy, and is a compilation of descriptive and interchangeable scenes, which delve further into the sexual and biological issues previously explored in Naked Lunch. Critic Mac Tonnies described the main themes in the novel as including ‘time travel, media bombardment, and out-of-body travel.’ In The Ticket that Exploded, Burroughs deals with tape recorders (an allegory Burroughs links to the destruction of control systems), cybernetic pleasure farms, and homosexual erotic exploitations on the planet Venus. Burroughs bypasses linear structure, pattern, and narrative in the novel (i.e., a clear beginning, middle, and end), instead deconstructing traditional organization and composition. Nova Express follows Inspector Lee as he tracks down members of the Nova Mob. It is considered by critics as being one of the best books in the trilogy due to its graphic descriptions and fragmented cyber world. …”
W – The Soft Machine, W – The Ticket That Exploded, W – Nova Express
W – Cut-up technique
William S. Burroughs Tells the Story of How He Started Writing with the Cut-Up Technique (Video)
amazon: The Soft Machine, The Ticket That Exploded, Nova Express

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