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Opium Eater: Life of Thomas De Quincey (Oxford Paperbacks) Hardcover – 20 Jun 1985


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 446 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New edition edition (20 Jun. 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192814362
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192814364
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 13 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,609,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Grevel Lindop (www.grevel.co.uk) is an award-winning poet, critic, travel writer and biographer. After a successful academic career, he became a freelance writer in 2001. A keen salsa dancer,he reached BBC Radio 4's 'Book of the Week' slot in 2008 with Travels on the Dance Floor, in which he explored Latin America in pursuit of music and dance, meeting a host of extraordinary characters on the way. The book was one of six shortlisted that year for Authors' Club Best Travel Book.

The Opium-Eater: A Life of Thomas De Quincey, his classic biography of the Romantic essayist and adventurer who invented drug literature, has recently been fully revised and is now available as an e-book.

His highly-praised Selected Poems appeared in 2001 and a new collection, Playing With Fire, in 2006. Described variously as 'beautiful', 'edgy', and 'obsessive', the vivid, erotic and groundbreaking poems of Playing With Fire led the book to sell out of its first printing, and it is now available both as an e-book and in print-on-demand. He has been with Carcanet Press since its inception and is a loyal and enthusiastic Carcanet author.

His Literary Guide to the Lake District won the Lakeland Book of the Year Award on publication, and he has won the Poetry London Prize and the Stafford Poetry Prize. In 2012 he had three poems long-listed in the National Poetry Competition (though none of them won!) and he currently has two projects approaching completion: (1) he is completing a biography of the 1940s poet, novelist, theologian and occultist Charles Williasm (1886-1945). The manuscript will go to OUP early in 2014. (2)He is working on a new collection of poems, Luna Park, for publication in the near future. You can read his blog at www.grevel.co.uk

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By cathy earnshaw on 9 May 2012
Format: Hardcover
There have been four major biographies of Thomas De Quincey to date. Two were published in 1936 - Edward Sackville-West's A Flame in Sunlight and Horace A. Eaton's Thomas De Quincey: A Biography - followed by Grevel Lindop's life published in 1981 and most recently Robert Morrison's The English Opium-Eater in 2009.

Of the two I have read - Lindop's and Morrison's - Lindop's biography is my clear favourite. Morrison's prose style and approach tends to the pedestrian & dry and I had to force myself through the last hundred pages (which is no fault of De Quincey's, he led a fascinating, bedraggled life). Lindop's prose is much more engaging and he's also more revealing of De Quincey's complex psyche and erratic writing habits. For example, Lindop on what would nowadays be termed De Quincey's neurotic self-delusions: "He tended to be especially tolerant of his own errors of judgment when they were extreme enough to set him apart in some way from other men" (p.81). Or on De Quincey's intensely anxious striving for achievement (in person he was known to be exceptionally modest): "In intellectual matters nothing less than excellence would satisfy his hunger for self-respect" (p.159).
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Format: Paperback
One of the fascinating aspects of this beautifully executed biography of Thomas de Quincey is the telling contrast between de Quincey's prose style and that of his biographer Grevel Lindop. Thomas de Quincey wrote in a highly elaborate style - even for his own time - of which he was a master practitioner; Lindop's style, in contrast, is wonderfully unadorned. Anyone wanting to learn how to write in a clear, uncluttered modern style could learn much from Grevel Lindop's writing.

The fact is that de Quincey's life was every bit as complex and elaborate as his writings. Lindop succeeds in unravelling de Quincey's history in a narrative that never flags. I could not put the book down. You might want to read this book if:
a) You want the best introduction there is to de Quincey;
b) You want to learn how to write beautifully constructed sentences in English;
c) you are interested in the art of biography.

I raced through the book to get a handle on de Quincey. Now I intend a second, more studious, reading in order to learn from Lindop how to go about writing really good prose in English.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Excellent 10 May 2012
By cathy earnshaw - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
There have been four major biographies of Thomas De Quincey to date. Two were published in 1936 - Edward Sackville-West's A Flame in Sunlight and Horace A. Eaton's Thomas De Quincey: A Biography - followed by Grevel Lindop's life published in 1981 and most recently Robert Morrison's The English Opium-Eater in 2009.

Of the two I have read - Lindop's and Morrison's - Lindop's biography is my clear favourite. Morrison's prose style and approach tends to the pedestrian and dry; and I had to force myself through the last hundred pages (which is no fault of De Quincey's, he led a fascinating, bedraggled life). Lindop's prose is much more engaging and he's also more revealing of De Quincey's complex psyche and erratic writing habits. For example, Lindop on what would nowadays be termed De Quincey's neurotic self-delusions: "He tended to be especially tolerant of his own errors of judgment when they were extreme enough to set him apart in some way from other men" (p.81). Or on De Quincey's intensely anxious striving for achievement (in person he was known to be exceptionally modest): "In intellectual matters nothing less than excellence would satisfy his hunger for self-respect" (p.159).

It's a sympathetic account that is neither sycophantic or prejudicial, even though De Quincey must test the patience of the biographer (he was, for example, maddeningly self-delusional about his financial situation, which was almost always dire, and could be impatiently critical of his long-suffering children, who were repeatedly used as messengers to deliver manuscripts and as decoys from bailiffs who pursued the never-ending debts. There are three constants to this story - what De Quincey himself described as his "intolerable procrastination", his dependence on laudanum, and his incessant literary & journalistic activity. For Lindop the last one wins out; he describes De Quincey in the dying pages as undefeated by the opium intake which dominated his life: "it was the creative imagination which triumphed" (p.392).
How writing should be! 9 Nov. 2012
By Chris - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautifully written account of one of the Romantic Poets of the 19th century. It also gives a fascinating insight into the lives of Wordsworth and Coleridge. It also makes for a great story.
I see it's now available as an ebook on the kindle store as well in case you prefer to read that way. The Opium Eater - A Life of Thomas De Quincey
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