Quotes by Oliver Harris

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That rewriting of literary history is most obvious in the case of The Yage Letters, where I was able to show that the true history inverts the official one. more...

A good deal of editing a manuscript looks like mechanical work, as if anyone with time on their hands and a magnifying glass could do it. But at a certain point, you need a strong interpretive conviction and, as you say, an "intangible" relationship to what you are doing. more...

I am always looking for some clue, some easily missed sign that might just be the missing piece in the puzzle. more...

I like to focus on the varieties of paper, the different sizes and watermarks, evidence perhaps of what was typed when and sometimes where and by whom. more...

I have really been fortunate, incredibly privileged, to have done so much editorial work, and I would love to do more. But just as my editions have tried to balance the familiar with the new, the commercial with the scholarly, so too I have to admit that I don't want to do editing for the sake of it, and some possible projects would be of uncertain value to me. more...

Of course, for me Naked Lunch was the big one, but I still believe I was right to pass on that. James Grauerholz and Barry Miles did an important job with their 2003 "Restored" edition because they knew what they wanted to do, and what they could do. At the time, I simply didn't know. I hadn't even edited Junky back then. So I did the right thing to pass. Instead, what I most want to do now is complete "The Making of Naked Lunch," on which I have been working, on and off, these past 25 years. more...

It started out as a typically insane idea to map every part of the published text in terms of its manuscript provenance and history, and to establish the cultural meaning of the book, part and whole. more...

I tell this anecdote with tongue in cheek at the start of my book William Burroughs and the Secret of Fascination, but my academic involvement with Burroughs was entirely due to my tutor at Oxford, Peter Conrad. I was discussing with him the idea of staying on to do graduate work and when I tossed the name of Burroughs into the conversation - well, he let it fall loudly onto the floor, and proceeded to cross himself as if warding off an evil spirit. Since I was very ambivalent about an academic career in any case, that decided it for me. more...

I was suckered in by the myth of the man [ William Burroughs] as much as by his work. more...


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