Confessions of an English Opium-Eater remains its author’s most famous and frequently-read work and one of the period’s central statements about both the power and terror of imagination. De Quincey describes the intense “pleasures” and harrowing “pains” of his opium use in lyrical and dramatic prose. A notorious success since its 1821 publication, the work has been an important influence on philosophers, theorists, and psychologists, as well as literary writers, of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. But Confessions is only one part of a larger confessional project conceived by De Quincey over the course of his writing career. Gathered together in this edition, these texts provide a fascinating glimpse of early nineteenth-century British aesthetic, medical, psychological, political, philosophical, social, racial, national, and imperialist attitudes. This edition includes the 1821 text of Confessions, its important sequel Suspiria de Profundis (1845), and its sequel, The English Mail-Coach (1849), as well as extensive appendices.
Confessions of an English Opium-Eater is an autobiographical account written by Thomas De Quincey, about his laudanum (opium and alcohol) addiction and its effect on his life. The Confessions was "the first major work De Quincey published and the one which won him fame almost overnight..." From its first appearance, the literary style of the Confessions attracted attention and comment. De Quincey was well-read in the English literature of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and assimilated influences and models from Sir Thomas Browne and other writers. Arguably the most famous and often-quoted passage in the Confessions is the apostrophe to opium in the final paragraph of The Pleasures: "Oh! just, subtle, and mighty opium! that to the hearts of poor and rich alike, for the wounds that will never heal, and for 'the pangs that tempt the spirit to rebel,' bringest an assuaging balm; eloquent opium! that with thy potent rhetoric stealest away the purposes of wrath; and to the guilty man, for one night givest back the hopes of his youth, and hands washed pure of blood...."
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National Book Critics Circle Award, Biographers International Organization Plutarch Award and Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist New York Times Book Review, Times Literary Supplement and The Guardian Best Books of 2016 Thomas De Quincey was an obsessive. He was obsessed with Wordsworth and Coleridge, whose Lyrical Ballads provided the script to his life, and by the idea of sudden death. Running away from school to pursue the two poets, De Quincey insinuated himself into their world. Basing his sensibility on Wordsworth’s and his character on Coleridge’s, he forged a triangle of unusual psychological complexity. Aged twenty-four, De Quincey replaced Wordsworth as the tenant of Dove Cottage, the poet’s former residence in Grasmere. In this idyllic spot he followed the reports of the notorious Ratcliffe Highway murders of 1811, when two families, including a baby, were butchered in their own homes. In his opium-soaked imagination the murderer became a poet while the poet became a murderer. Embedded in On Murder as One of the Fine Arts, De Quincey’s brilliant series of essays, Frances Wilson finds the startling story of his relationships with Wordsworth and Coleridge. Opium was the making of De Quincey, allowing him to dissolve self-conflict, eliminate self-recrimination, and divest himself of guilt. Opium also allowed him to write, and under the pseudonym “The Opium-Eater” De Quincey emerged as the strangest and most original journalist of his age. His influence has been considerable. Poe became his double; Dostoevsky went into exile with Confessions of an English Opium-Eater in his pocket; and Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, George Orwell, Alfred Hitchcock, and Vladimir Nabokov were all De Quincey devotees. There have been other biographies of Thomas De Quincey, but Guilty Thing is the first to be animated by the spirit of De Quincey himself. Following the growth of his obsessions from seed to full flowering and tracing the ways they intertwined, Frances Wilson finds the master key to De Quincey’s vast Piranesian mind. Unraveling a tale of hero worship and revenge, Guilty Thing brings the last of the Romantics roaring back to life and firmly establishes Wilson as one of our foremost contemporary biographers.
"I here present you, courteous reader, with the record of a remarkable period in my life: according to my application of it, I trust that it will prove not merely an interesting record, but in a considerable degree useful and instructive." So begins "The Confessions of an English Opium-Eater." Originally published in two parts in the "London Magazine" in 1821, it is a gripping account of one Englishman's addiction to opium. Thomas De Quincey details the effects of his opium use and in so doing warns the reader of the dangers and terrors of serious drug addiction.
'I took it: - and in an hour, oh! Heavens! what a revulsion! what an upheaving, from its lowest depths, of the inner spirit! what an apocalypse of the world within me!' Thomas De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821) launched a fascination with drug use and abuse that has continued from his day to ours. In the Confessions De Quincey invents recreational drug taking, but he also details both the lurid nightmares that beset him in the depths of his addiction as well as his humiliatingly futile attempts to renounce the drug. Suspiria de Profundis centres on the deep afflictions of De Quincey's childhood, and examines the powerful and often paradoxical relationship between drugs and human creativity. In 'The English Mail-Coach', the tragedies of De Quincey's past are played out with horrifying repetitiveness against a backdrop of Britain as a Protestant and an imperial power. This edition presents De Quincey's finest essays in impassioned autobiography, together with three appendices that are highlighted by a wealth of manuscript material related to the three main texts. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.