Drugs and Bugs: Kafkaesque Intertextuality in “Naked Lunch”

“What is “kafkaesque” and what can be classified as such?”. This is a question that deeply pertains not only to the subject matter of this term paper, but to literary studies in general. The legacy of the renowned 20th Century bohemian writer has left an imprint in the works of many other authors across the world. Nevertheless, it is also fair to ask oneself, to what degree? In Twitter a meme in the form of a clumsily written alignment chart makes fun of this tendency to describe any work of art as “kafkaesque” only due to its comment on society or its use of bugs as leitmotif . Regardless of this I believe that there are indeed certain works of art that have a deep intertextual relationship with Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. One of these works is no other than the 1991 film adaptation by Canadian director David Cronenberg of William S. Burroughs’ novel The Naked Lunch. I believe that this movie has many connections to Kafka’s 1915 novel to such an extent that it works as a kafkaesque metamorphosis in its plot and symbology.

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