Burroughs, William – Cuts off Finger 1939

William Burroughs cuts off finger
William Burroughs cuts off finger, 1939 via RealityStudio

Burroughs cut off his finger out of love for Jack Anderson and sent it to Arnold Gingrich at Esquire for publication. Gingrich sent Burroughs a note back reading, “I greet you at the beginnings of a wonderful career, when do I get the corpse?”
William Burroughs photo showing missing top joint of little finger on left hand.
Burroughs’ cut off the end joint of the little finger of his left hand, during an earlier episode of abject, frustrated desire in 1939. The writing of Queer brought back previous traumas of desire, and it comes as no surprise that in his April 22nd letter Burroughs refers to having just written the short story later published as “The Finger.” Fictionalising this earlier episode, “The Finger” mockingly literalises the masochistic figure of Burroughs’ emotional pain: “It’s tearing me all apart. . . . So I hit on this finger joint gimmick.”
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William Burroughs, Dead Fingers Talk novel, book cover 1963

William Burroughs words – Dead Fingers Talk (spooky junky tales with sounds) via LFORSK
William Burroughs, Dead Fingers Talk novel, book cover 1963
Dead Fingers Talk novel, 1963


Film by Gavin Hignight, based on William Burroughs story, The Finger.

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