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Riffs around surrealism

Stewart Home on Claude Pélieu:

Claude Pélieu was an associate of William Burroughs and his 1973 anti-novel Kali Yug Express is a continuation of the cut-up experiments begun more than a decade earlier by Brion Gysin. Although the book appeared in French (the language in which it was written) and German back in the 1970s, Kali Yug Express has only just been published in English. The English translation seems to have been made by Pélieu’s second wife Mary Beach many years ago. Pélieu and Beach also had a hand in the translation of many beat writers – including Burroughs – into French.

While Kali Yug Express takes some major cues from Burroughs’ cut-up trilogy – The Soft Machine, The Ticket That Exploded and Nova Express – in terms of its space age mythology, the more autobiographical elements of Kali Yug Express owe less to the book’s most obvious source of inspiration. However, it is worth noting that Pélieu – like Burroughs – had been a junkie. But Pélieu owes a great deal to French influences including surrealism and lettrism, despite his frequent allusions to Burroughs.

First posted: Friday, November 9th, 2012.

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