Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering.
More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

Tell the Publisher!
Id like to read this book on Kindle

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Soft Machine [Paperback]

William Burroughs
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
Price: 6.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
You Save: 3.00 (30%)
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
Only 7 left in stock (more on the way).
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
Want it tomorrow, 24 April? Choose Express delivery at checkout. Details


Amazon Price New from Used from
Paperback 6.99  
Amazon.co.uk Trade-In Store
Did you know you can use your mobile to trade in your unwanted books for an Amazon.co.uk Gift Card to spend on the things you want? Visit the Books Trade-In Store for more details or check out the Trade-In Amazon Mobile App Guidelines on how to trade in using a smartphone. Learn more.

Book Description

29 April 2010

The first novel in William Burroughs’ anarchic ‘Cut-Up Trilogy’.

A world populated by hanged soldiers, North African street urchins, addicted narcotics agents, Spanish rent boys, evil doctors, corrupt judges and monsters from the mythology of history or the laboratories of science – Burroughs was truly the Hieronymus Bosch of the twentieth century. In this surreal, savage and brilliantly funny novel, his famous ‘cut-up’ technique, the slicing and random folding in of words, transforms the narrative into an extraordinary, unequalled new form of prose poetry, taking us deeper into the dark recesses of Burroughs’ imagination.

Frequently Bought Together

Soft Machine + The Ticket That Exploded + Nova Express (Penguin Modern Classics)
Price For All Three: 22.38

Buy the selected items together

Product details

  • Paperback: 143 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; paperback / softback edition (29 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007341911
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007341917
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 34,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


‘“The Soft Machine” has its background in the underwater cities of Flash Gordon serials, broken-down towns in South America, faded photos and 1920s films in seedy movie houses. Essential reading.’ Observer

‘[Burroughs’] great fictions [show] his superb, hard-edged satirical visions of cancerous and addictive consumerism; his elegiac and poetic invocations of sadness and dislocation; his enormous fertility of ideas and imagery.’ Will Self, Guardian

‘A world compounded of myth and science fiction in which freedom and order are eternally opposed. Out of the dirt, the excrement, the couplings, Burroughs makes a disgusting, exciting poetry.’ Sunday Times

Praise for William Burroughs:

'Burroughs is the greatest satirical writer since Jonathan Swift.' Jack Kerouac

'Burroughs' voice is hard, derisive, inventive, free, funny, serious, poetic, indelibly American, a voice in which one hears transistor radios and old movies and all the clichés and all the cons and all the newspapers, all the peculiar optimism, all the failure.' Joan Didion

'The only American novelist who may conceivably be possessed by genius.' Norman Mailer

'In the English language, William Burroughs is the greatest writer alive. His imagination has tackled head-on the post-war world, with its huge bureaucracies and sinister complexes. He has a paranoid vision, but as he himself said: the psychotic is someone who knows what's really going on.' J. G. Ballard, Sunday Times

‘William Burroughs broadened people’s conception of what makes humanity. In that way, he really was an American hero, a hero writer, and also just a great man.’ Lou Reed

About the Author

William Burroughs was born in St Louis, Missouri in 1914. Immensely influential among the Beat writers of the 1950s – notably Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg – he already had an underground reputation before the appearance of his first important book, ‘Naked Lunch’. Originally published by the daring and influential Olympia Press (the original publishers of Henry Miller) in France in 1959, it aroused great controversy on publication and was not available in the US until 1962 and in the UK until 1964. The book was adapted for film by David Cronenberg in 1991. William Burroughs died in 1997.

Sell a Digital Version of This Book in the Kindle Store

If you are a publisher or author and hold the digital rights to a book, you can sell a digital version of it in our Kindle Store. Learn more

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mind-expanding 8 July 2013
I finished reading this yesterday and I was moved to write a review because the current two hardly do the book justice.

To me the book was dazzling, shocking, mind-bending and richly poetic. However, it is important to understand just a little about the cut-up technique that Burroughs used to construct this piece of work. The Soft Machine is a collage of previously written texts, in which sentence and narrative are deliberately fragmented then spliced together so that disparate images, concepts and characters are forced into juxtaposition. The results are startling, humourous and at times, nightmarish. In this method, conventional grammar and syntax fly out the window but a certain kind of poetry emerges, which could not be achieved by other means.

If you are not familiar with Burroughs' work, this might not be the best place to start, instead a novel like Junky might be a better place to begin. The Soft Machine contains all the classic Burroughs motifs: aliens, mutant insects, jaded detectives, dystopian worlds, unsavoury medical procedures and a LOT of graphic sex, most, if not all of it between men.

Without a doubt, this is not a book for everyone. When you bear in mind that W.B. set out, deliberately, at a young age, to "s*** out" what he saw as the mental and social bonds imposed on him by his middle class upbringing, this book, like everything else he wrote, can be seen as part of that process. Some people will find that an interesting concept, others will not. Reading the Soft Machine is a little like watching a screen onto which thousands of images are projected in rapid succession. Many of these images are horrific, repulsive, many are poignant, erotic or simply beautiful. It their glorious collision that makes the book such a rich and visceral experience.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a "normal" book! 10 Oct 2013
Not knowing much about William Burroughs other than his history with drugs, I picked up `The Soft Machine' spontaneously, assuming that it would be a "normal" novel, albeit a strange one. To say the least, I certainly wasn't expecting this. One paragraph in, and I'd raised an eyebrow; one page in, and I was starting to wonder if the whole first chapter would be as seemingly nonsensical as what I'd just read. When I found that the second chapter was just as weird, I started to question whether or not it would be worth continuing to read a book that I just didn't understand, but I persevered after reading the Wikipedia article on it and finding out that some kind of sense emerges from it in chapter 7. There was a strange allure to it, after all, as I'd never read anything quite like it before. Written in the so-called "cut-up and fold-in" technique, the book consists of many different seemingly random, mostly graphic, and often horrific, scenes spliced into one another. Paragraphs go off into a tangent, sentences inexplicably merge into one another, and there's a general disregard for character, story or even grammar. I must admit, for most of the book, I found it arduous to read and I often came close to throwing in the towel and chucking it in the bin.

However, by the time I'd reached chapter 7, the only chapter to have a somewhat coherent plot, and which kind of puts the rest of the book into perspective, I'd gotten my head around the incredibly disjointed writing style, and began to appreciate it for what it was. I say "appreciated", but that's purely on an artistic level. By this point, I still didn't actually *like* the book, although some of the scenes were very funny. I also started to realise that this is a book that you have to read in small doses and really concentrate on.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
4.0 out of 5 stars Thrill Bill 5 Dec 2013
By Dave
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Love Burroughs. THE SOFT MACHINE is most definitely one of his harder works to consume but it's rewarding in a way that other writers rarely achieve.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I'm sure this will be great 20 May 2013
By jenny S
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This has not arrived yet... and has been ages coming, but I'm sure it'll be good when it does :-)
Was this review helpful to you?
3 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unappealing 4 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I only read the first chapter before abandoning this book. If you enjoy reading a story of misogynism, masturbation, necrophilia and racism, and if you prefer not to have any emotional connection with any of the characters, and if you like an unstructured rambling narrative that reads like the random jottings of an author in a desperate search for a plot ...... then this might just appeal to you. Good luck.
Was this review helpful to you?
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category