Confessions of An English Opium-eater

Confessions of An English Opium-eater

eBook - 2010
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Publisher: To be supplied : Project Gutenberg, 2010.
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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Jun 25, 2019

This has been on my want-to-read list for years, but finally a 1931 edition with illustrations by Laurence W. Chaves prompted me to read it. The portions about opium do not begin until over half the book, which surprised and disappointed me. Also, the first part of the book is written with long complex sentences to plow through. I normally love nineteenth century English prose, but I thought at times I could hear DeQuincey huffing and puffing as he wrestled with syntax. Just the same, he provides his background as a lover of literature and philosophy roaming the countryside of Wales, all before his deep encounters with opium. When the encounters come, DeQuincy delivers with passion and eloquence. "I feel mystic importance attached to the minutest circumstances connected with the place, and the time, and the man (if man he was), that first laid open to me the paradise of opium-eaters." Well - do you remember the first times that you got high? I remember when that was long ago a favorite story swap among baby boomers. Part of DeQuincy's choices in using were caused by to relieve sameness and boredom. "A duller spectacle our Earth has not to show than a rainy Sunday in London." DeQuincey is eventually ecstatic and rhapsodic about opium's effects. The problem he had was in controlling the dose, which became incredibly high. He eventually reaches practical ideas concerning the substance. "Nervous irritation is the secret desolator of human life; and for this there is probably no adequate controlling power but that of opium, taken daily, under steady regulation." He even declares the donation of his own body for the scientific exploration of the effects of opium on the human body. His perspectives on the drug are insightful, much more valuable than later hysterical reactions. The illustrations are interesting and attractive. They seem to be the only work for which the artist is known. They're not the best, but somehow appropriate for the book.

Feb 24, 2015

The alcohol/drug/recovery memoir has become so commonplace (and trite), that we forget it hasn't been around for that long. The 19th century writer Thomas de Quincey (a contemporary and friend of Coleridge and Wordsworth) vividly describes his decades of opium (which was legal) addiction and, prefiguring Freud, the dreams and subconsciousness that it unleashes. Pour yourself a cool, tall glass of laudanum and enjoy.

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