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Confessions of an English Opium Eater () – Caitlin Duffy
Published by Dover Publications, Incorporated. About this Item: Dover Publications, Incorporated. Condition: Fair. Interesting work, in a beautiful prose style. Obviously, this is not for the general public at least today, although presumably more so when it was first published. It is a slim volume, in this, its original published version, and, as others have pointed out, is not mainly a "confession" regarding substance abuse.
The author gives a fair amount of background information on his life, which I found entertaining and informative and thought really served the author's purpose of allowing you to get to know him and put his opium dependence in context. Just note that reading the author's prose takes concentration, especially for the modern reader.
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Beautifully written the prose contrast with the harsh source material. A rebel teen subjects himself to the uttermost poverty, hunger and sickness. Self exiled the suffering drives him to terrible choices There is no judgment in the part of mature De Quincey to his teen self. I wonder if it is due that in essence he is the same rebel teen, fighting for his ideals. If you expect a kind of hippie chronicle of hallucinatory trips you are not going to find it here, dreams are not much explored.
It is more the road and circumstances that took De Quincey for that route; maybe a bit of vice but, according to him, peace and pause from his discomforts and malaises an escape , and mental acuity to work.
Confessions of an English Opium Eater
In this time of his life De Quincey is accompanied with other dreamers in suffering, and with aristocratic gentlemen quite polite to suggest him a change in his life. To me the saddest was that he could had avoided, in any moment, his suffering. One person found this helpful. By the time Thomas De Quincey wrote "Confessions of an English Opium-Eater" the subject of narcotics was very much a taboo, thus the author was the founder of a new type of literature - addiction literature.
When De Quincey was seven, his father died, living him in the care of four tutors. After changing several esteemed boarding schools, the protagonist came to Eton, where he discovered his passion for Old Greek and Ancient literature. However, he wanted to drop out of school when he was seventeen but his guardians didn't approve, therefore he ran away from Eton.
He traveled to Northern Wales where the villagers asked him to do small work as an exchange to food and a place to say.
Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (Dover Thrift Editions)
Unfortunately, he ran short of money and he was forced to move on, thus he found himself in London. There he almost starved to death, but a fifteen-years-old prostitute - Ann -saved him and thus the two became friends. Her gesture and his sympathy for her followed him all his life, but he did not see her again because he had never asked for her last name.
Being fed up with poverty, De Quincey asks an old school friend - Earl of D - to lend him some money to return home. He reconciles with his family and goes to Oxford University. From this point on, the narrator begins to tell his reader about his good and bad experiences with opium. As De Quincey confesses, the previous period of his life left deep marks on his health - severe stomachaches, intolerance to certain foods and psychic traumas.
The first time he used opium was after a friend suggested it as a pain-killer for toothache. Afterwards, he began consuming it regularly by counting the drops. Throughout the years he had to consume more because the doze didn't have the same pleasant effects. The obsessive counting of the drops may represent the fact that De Quincey wanted to keep his addiction under control, because he took it for medical reasons, not for pleasure. My favorite part of the book is when De Quincey began to feel the bad effects of opium such as the hallucinations and nightmares, which usually took place in Orient and North Africa China, Turkey, and Egypt etc.
The Malay, who has previously showed up at his door and to whom De Quincey offers a good amount of opium, he will also appear in the author's dreams.
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The style of the Confessions is erudite, seasoned with Greek terms, references to Ancient literature and other domains. Even if the title suggests the idea of confessions regarding the author's life, here opium is the center piece of the book, with its positive and negative effects. There are also many digressions that might annoy the reader, but they have their purpose, such as the causes and the justification for De Quincey's use of opium.
I loved the personal account of the main character - an observant and philosophical diarist - describing his life and descent into drug addiction during the age of reason. There was an unexpected end as well. Not a long book, but one of unique insight and impact. The present edition reprints the first version, generally considered more impressive, and admired for its introspective penetration and journalistic astuteness.
Book Reg. Product Description Product Details 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 — is best known for his Confessions of an English Opium Eater. Reprint of the text from London Magazine , American Negro Folktales.
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