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word-hoard

The Word Hoard

The Word Hoard also known as the trunk manuscripts was a large body of text (approximately 1000 typewriter pages) produced by author William S. Burroughs between roughly 1953 and 1958. It constitutes the main body of Burroughs' most experimental novels.

Material from this hoard can be found in his books Naked Lunch, The Soft Machine, Nova Express, The Ticket That Exploded, Dead Fingers Talk and Interzone. (Possibly more.) Naked Lunch was edited by Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, whereas the other books were mostly edited by Burroughs himself, albeit with some help from Brion Gysin.

Many of the stories constitute what Burroughs refers to as routines: good stories that stick, probably to be understood akin to the routines performed by varieté artists or stand-up comedians. The same routines appear at several points in the different books, rewritten and varied to add new twists, as an artist performing the same number over and over again, improvising some each time. This particular characteristic has often been likened to jazz solos.

Another twist given to the Word Hoard was added by using the cut-up and fold-in techniques for rearranging and varying the material in different ways. In some books, especially in The Soft Machine Burroughs later revised the cut-up sections and added in more linear prose, since he was displeased with the result.

The Nova Trilogy

The author has declared the three books The Soft Machine, The Ticket That Exploded, Nova Express form a trilogy, sometimes dubbed The Nova Trilogy or The Nova Epic. This grouping is indeed intentional, but comparing the books to the other material produced from the Word Hoard, there is sometimes more in common between Naked Lunch and The Soft Machine than between the three books themselves. The Ticket That Exploded could also be seen as a kind of "ticket", or manual, to the Nova Universe, which "exploded" (backwards) into Naked Lunch, The Soft Machine, Nova Express.

In The Beat Book from 1974, Burroughs claims that when he edits a novel, about half of the material is cut away and later recycled in the next novel. This explains the phenomenon of the plots and characters fading in and out from the different books.

The Nova Trilogy was intended by the author as "a mythology for the space age".

References

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