This article explores the impact of Wilhelm Reich’s theories and writings on the works and thinking of William S. Burroughs. Reich’s significance for Burroughs’ fiction is beyond doubt, as the appearance of Reich’s discoveries and inventions, such as orgones and orgone accumulators, in Burroughs’ major works demonstrates. Yet to date, no attempt has been made in academia to make all those references to Reich in Burroughs’ complete œuvre visible. In order to make the thinking of the Austrian-American psychoanalyst and scientist comprehensible for readers not familiar with Reich, the first section will provide a brief biographical outline. In the subsequent sections, the article will describe how Burroughs and other Beat writers discovered Reich, how and to what extent Burroughs incorporated Reich in his texts throughout his career and what opinions Burroughs expressed about Reich in interviews and letters. For the first time, with a summary as undertaken in this article and by documenting most of the references to Reich in Burroughs’ work, the importance of the former to the latter is revealed in a compact form.
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