The Yage Letters Redux
Edited by Oliver Harris
“A complete understanding of the literary legacy of William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg is impossible without reading this amazing collection of letters and documents centered on yage, the fabled hallucinogen of the Amazon. . . . These crucial texts go beyond simple curiosity about mind-changing drugs to set the foundation of what would later become a literary movement that changed American literature.”
"Burroughs' book about his search for the 'ultimate fix', The Yage Letters, possesses an equally strange and secret history. Published in 1963 but written a decade earlier, it has long been seen as a fascinating curio in the Burroughs canon, yet a new edition of the book, edited by Oliver Harris, places it more centrally in the list of key Burroughs texts.... The Yage Letters marks the point when Burroughs moved full-time into his own, fully realised universe."
The Independent UK
"a fascinating travel log written mostly by Burroughs of a trip he made to Peru and Colombia in 1953 to track down the legendary yage vine (also called ayahuasca), valued among the Indians for its telepathic and anesthetic powers. . . . contains letters and poems from Ginsberg to Burroughs from the same region and, in turn, records Ginsberg's more intensely spiritual trips ("visit the moon, see the dead, see God"). When not violently poisoned by the drug, Burroughs attained wild, beautifully rendered hallucinations of the "Composite City," and his reflections on the corruption of government and the insidious spread of disease prove haunting and masterly."
"Placed in the full historical context The Yage Letters can be more completely understood and the working methods of one of the Twentieth Century's most radical writers are revealed as never before. For readers and aficionados of Beat history this new edition is something of a gem."
"a rigorously edited, researched, and analyzed version of the book that earlier editions called an "epistolary novel" emerging from Burroughs' 1953 trip to South America in search of the purportedly telepathic drug yagé . . . what could be better than opening up this incredible new edition of Yage Letters and discovering a practically "lost" or recovered book by a favorite author?"
"... Burroughs relates his seven-month expedition into South American jungles in search of the fabled hallucinogen yage (you know you're a stoner when...). Albeit unusual but still a solid addition to the Beat canon."