Confessions of an English Opium-eater

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Dover, 1821 - Biography & Autobiography - 70 pages
5 Reviews

Although he was an acute literary critic, a voluminous contributor to Blackwood's and other journals, and a perceptive writer on history, biography, and economics, Thomas de Quincey (1785 1859) is best known for his "Confessions of an English Opium Eater."
First published in installments in the "London Magazine" in 1821, the work recounts De Quincey's early years as a precocious student of Greek, his flight from grammar school and subsequent adventures among the outcasts and prostitutes of London, studies at Oxford University and his introduction to opium in 1804 (he hoped that taking the drug would relieve a severe headache). It was the beginning of a long-term addiction to opium, whose effects on his mind are revealed in remarkably vivid descriptions of the dreams and visions he experienced while under its influence.
Describing the general style of the "Confessions," an English critic of the period wrote in the "London Monthly Review" "They have an air of reality and life; and they exhibit such strong graphic powers as to throw an interest and even a dignity round a subject which in less able hands might have been rendered a tissue of trifles and absurdities."
In later years, De Quincey revised and expanded the first edition of the "Confessions" into a much longer, more verbose work which lacked the readable intensity of the original. The present edition reprints the first version, generally considered more impressive, and admired for its introspective penetration and journalistic astuteness.
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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - baswood - LibraryThing

Confessions maybe, but not by any means complete contrition. De Quincey rhapsodises on the pleasures of Opium eating (Laudanum tincture) at pains to dissipate the image of oriental men smoking their ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - incandescentsmile - LibraryThing

I've just finished writing my undergraduate dissertation on De Quincey's 'Confessions', and - you know what? - the whole process damn near broke my head open. The more you think you understand about ... Read full review

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About the author (1821)

Thomas de Quincey, born in 1785, was an English novelist, essayist, and literary critic. He is best known for his Confessions of an English Opium Eater, an insightful autobiographical account of his addiction to opium. The death of de Quincey's older sister when he was seven years old shaped his life through the grief and sadness that forced him to seek comfort in an inner world of imagination. He ran away to Wales when he was 17. He then attended Oxford University. It was at Oxford that he first encountered opium, and he subsequently abandoned his study of poetry without a degree, hoping to find a true philosophy. de Quincey wrote essays for journals in London and Edinburgh in order to support his large family. His prose writings and essays contain psychological insights relevant to the modern reader of today. In addition to his voluminous works of criticism and essays, he wrote a novel, Klosterheim or The Masque. Thomas de Quincey died in 1859.

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