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The Confessions of an English Opium-Eater: And Other Writings (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

Thomas De Quincey , Grevel Lindop
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Confessions of an English Opium-Eater and Other Writings (Oxford World's Classics) Confessions of an English Opium-Eater and Other Writings (Oxford World's Classics) 4.0 out of 5 stars (30)
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Book Description

13 Nov 2008 Oxford World's Classics
Confessions of an English Opium-Eater is an account of the early life and opium addiction of Thomas De Quincey, in prose which is by turns witty, conversational, and nightmarish. 'On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth' offers both a small masterpiece of Shakespearian interpretation and a provocative statement of De Quincey's personal aesthetic of contrast and counterpoint. Suspiria de Profundis blends autobiography and philosophical speculation into a series of dazzling prose-poems which explore the mysteries of time, memory, and suffering. 'The English Mail-Coach' develops a richly apocalyptic vision which sets nineteenth-century England's political and imperial grandeur against the suffering and loss of innocence which it entails. This selection presents De Quincey's major works in their original uncut and unrevised versions, which in some cases have not been available for many years. 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.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New Ed. / edition (13 Nov 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199537933
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199537938
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 13.1 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 204,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Confessions of an English Opium Eater recounts incidents and periods in the life of Thomas de Quincey, the troubled and talented associate of the Lake poets who became notorious for his use and abuse (by his own admission) of opium, mostly taken in its tincture form, Laudanum. As the title suggests, this unconventional autobiography is constructed to concentrate on the dominating aspect of de Quincey's unhappy existence; firstly illuminating the youthful experiences which affected his ultimate addiction (his schooldays, travels, and critical and penurious time in London), and then relating the effects of his established habit (including an indescribable rendering of the dreams induced by opium). The Confessions are removed from typical narrative and autobiography in all ways; content, style, structure, etc. Prose usually contains a main body or trunk of plot which branches out to develop story and character in various scenes. De Quincey, however, details particular branches which constitute apparently narrow areas of his experience, which he explores with microscopic forcefulness until the reader can distinguish the veins in all the attached leaves. It is only once this exposure is executed that the leaves fall away and allow us to observe the full formation of the tree. Thomas first used opium (at the suggestion of either a classmate or a demon) when suffering from toothache as a young man, but such a simplistic episode cannot explain his usage, least of all to himself. Rather, Opium was the nexus in a life the sum of which displays a general drama of suffering.

Superficially, de Quincey's claims to torment might be dismissible.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By zadie84
A great book, involving narration and beautiful language, full of learned quotations from the world classics together with a frightening but fascinating inquiry into opium's dreams and nightmares.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
De Quincey well understood that paradox lies at the heart of the philosophical quest for Truth. In fact I experienced my own minor example of this `belief in the expressive value of contrasts' within these very pages, starting from the basis that my maybe-not-entirely-typical reason for reading this book in the first place was because I am working my way through Horror Maestro Dario Argento's vintage movies and was interested in the De Quincey influence. So there was a definite contrast in discovering that the piece that specifically inspired the gory `Three Mothers' trilogy (`Suspiria', `Inferno', `The Mother of Tears') - namely `Suspirio de Profundis' - also contains a matchless evocation of the transcendental role of the proper 1662 Prayer Book version of the Church of England in the spiritual and actual life of the nation as it then was. No agonising if it is `relevant' in this account of it, it is God Speaking. If anything were capable of converting an English Catholic . . .

There is also a short passage on the first page of `Suspiria de Profundis' that has a prophetic aspect that seems to me to be the essence of De Quincey's vision. He is an English Visionary clearly in accord with his direct contemporaries Wordsworth and Coleridge, along with their Master of Visual Interpretation, Samuel `Shoreham' Palmer, in a trail that reaches down to the late great 20th century Radical Traditionalist John Michell. It is an inherently patriotic `conservative' vision that nevertheless, whilst having no truck with the poisonous nostrums of Socialism, likewise abhors the Industrial Revolution and that fraudulently named hoax `Free Trade.' That certain little passage at the beginning of `de Profundis' neatly summarises the problem and proffers the solution.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best book ever 21 Sep 2012
By babs
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I love this book. A collection of strange articles written by an opium addict. It was a big influence on Virginia Woolf and I found it through a footnote in To the Lighthouse. It's not an easy read and I didn't enjoy all the essays, but others have had a lasting effect on me. I will read them again and agin. They are worth studying and I recommend that you read the introduction. Really essential for anyone interested in the development of modern literature and representations of time and modernity.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I am glad to have this book 30 April 2014
By Christopher J. Kane - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
These are classic essays, and I wanted to read more of De Quincy than is in the Norton Anthology, although that gives you a pretty good grounding.
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