The thematic concerns which Burroughs introduced in Junkie (1953) and Naked Lunch, and then continued to pursue in the trilogy consisting of The Soft Machine (1961), The Ticket That Exploded (1962), and Nova Express are the product of the years he spent as a kind of drop-out from American society before his break-through to his singular writing style in Naked Lunch. They include esoteric theories of addiction, unconventional and often medically suspect solutions to addictive impulses, an obsession with conspiracies of social control, a fascination with the technical means of communication, and a desire to probe the areas of his own psyche which generate the "characters" he places in his novels. All of these are present in Nova Express but what makes the novel distinctive is the manner in which Burroughs addresses the question of language itself. His examination of nontraditional methods of organization, character presentation, and syntactical construction was largely instinctive in Naked Lunch. In the trilogy, he has introduced the theory of the "cut-up" as a specific instrument to employ in assembling passages which test some of his presumptions about the manner in which linguistic arrangements influence perception.
In other books, drugs have been thoroughly investigated (even embraced) as agents of transformation. In Nova Express, chemical substances take a distinctly secondary role as...
(The entire section is 513 words.)
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