Confessions of an English Opium-eater

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Dover, 1821 - Biography & Autobiography - 70 pages
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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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User Review  - William345 - LibraryThing

3.5 stars. One can see why Confessions was such a favorite among the drug-addled youngsters of the 60s and 70s. The title is catchy but--surprise!--its not primarily a book about drug experiences ... Read full review

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User Review  - wonderperson - LibraryThing

A good attempt to write an honest account of what it is like to live as a Male Lifelong Opium Eater; that is in drops of Red Poison Tincture gotten from the Chemist, whose first use was to relieve the ... 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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