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William S. Burroughs' William Tell Routine: the Birth of the Possessed Reporter from a Staged Accidental Death


  • Alexander Klose

    (Rungestraâ–€e, Berlin, Germany)


In order to become a writer William S. Burroughs, the author of Junky and Naked Lunch, had to shoot his wife. That is what the myth says. In this article, I will demonstrate how the scandal of a contingent event - the negligent shooting of a woman while drunk - had to be transformed into a kind of conspiratorial plot in order to erect the image of a modern Orpheus. Contingency could be called the primary scandal of philosophy. It can be shown how even a scandalous author such as Burroughs need to banish contingency - through repetition of the mythological scheme of a man who is innocently responsible for the tragic death of his wife - to constitute himself as a writer. By adapting common myths Burroughs brings these myths into a new, outrageous form, and thereby installs a new set of values.

Suggested Citation

  • Alexander Klose, 2002. "William S. Burroughs' William Tell Routine: the Birth of the Possessed Reporter from a Staged Accidental Death," Homo Oeconomicus, Institute of SocioEconomics, vol. 19, pages 215-224.
  • Handle: RePEc:hom:homoec:v:19:y:2002:p:215-224

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