The Yage Letters
Pub Date :
Edition(s) at Erowid :
City Lights Books
FROM THE EROWID REVIEW #
- Review by LaMalice, 2005 Nov 29
The Yage Letters begins with the letters William Burroughs sends to Allen Ginsberg while Ayahuasca-touring in Central America and the Colombian outback in 1953, and concludes with the letters from Ginsberg who follows his friend's steps in 1960 and takes on his own journey of visionary enlightment in Peru. What was thought to be an initiating and liberating journey turns . . . (more)
BACK COVER #The Yage Letters: an early epistolary novel by William S. Burroughs, whose 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-hallucinogenic-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 counsel. 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?'