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The Confessions of an English Opium Eater [Hardcover]

Thomas de Quincey
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
Price: 16.52 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

10 Sep 2010
This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world's literature in affordable, high quality, modern editions that are true to the original work.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Kessinger Publishing (10 Sep 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1169227392
  • ISBN-13: 978-1169227392
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 25.4 x 0.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,336,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"Among the best essayists of the romantic era. De Quincey may be viewed as a proto-Burroughs, as well as a British cousin to Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Baudelaire, he might with a stretch even be seen as an ancestor of the J.G. Ballard...turn immediately to this excellent, detailed and often harrowing biography" (Washington Post)

"Thomas de Quincey was the original cosmonaut of inner space, his Confessions of an English Opium Eater predating the wave of drug buddy literature from William Burroughs to Irvine Welsh by half a century or more" (Glasgow Herald)

"A stimulating cocktail: exotic dream-sequences conjured up in baroque prosepoetry, camp Gothic effects worthy of Hammer Horror, classical quotations, London street-slang and sprawling footnotes on German philosophy. De Quincey served up this heady concoction of high-culture and low-life in all of his finest writings... At his best, however, he is one of the finest English prose stylists for sheer variety and opiumtinted vividness" (Mail on Sunday)

"The first - and still is the finest - literary dope fiend" (Guardian)

"It is one of the classics of 19th-century life writing and its influence is still felt" (Observer) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

The original drug memoir - a true nineteenth century account of the pleasures and pains of addiction --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
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. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Confessions of an English Opium Eater 30 Jan 1999
By A Customer
Anyone looking to read a juicy, scandalous account of opium in the 19th century will be bitterly disappointed. That is not to say that De Quincey's work is not brilliant and engaging. However, his prose style can be frustrating to the reader in search of simple entertainment. It is only towards the end of the book that De Quincey begins to describe his opium visions-- the rest of the narrative is a dense, minutely detailed account of his childhood and the struggles of his adolescence. He takes the reader through various stages in his life in passages which are extremely digressive and wordy. However, If the reader is patient enough to labor through the prose, he or she will be richly rewarded by the eloquence of a brilliant mind. De Quincey's style could be compared to a musical work which moves slowly, yet progresses to a crescendo all the more grand for its deliberation. His stock of knowledge is immense, and he writes with authority on virtually every subject from the poetry of Wordsworth to the etymology of his own name. He seems to delight in the process of memory and its property of magnifying incidents of the past to mythical proportions and setting patterns for the future. He takes a psychoanalytic view of his life years before Freud. To him, opium seems a prism through which to examine the themes of his past, and his narrative is largely a psychological self-scrutiny. In his early life, De Quincey runs away from school, tramps around in Wales, sets off for London, and lives penniless and starving among prostitutes and men of dubious reputation. A highly sympathetic character, he strives to learn from all humans regardless of station. Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
First published in 1822 (and later enlarged in 1856) `Confessions of an English Opium-Eater' by the English essayist and critic, Thomas De Quincey (1785-1859) tells the autobiographical tale of his descent into laudanum addiction, which began at Worcester College, Oxford in 1804. Thomas became fully dependant on the drug in 1812, and the book details the psychological effects of opium upon the memory and how symbolic representations found in dreams can reveal interesting insights into the mind influenced by addiction. In Thomas's case, the focus of his dreams was his sister who died in childhood and another recurring memory was that of Ann, a fifteen year old prostitute who befriended but suddenly left him alone in London where he was homeless and hungry. He had ran away from his Manchester Grammar School to Wales and London and he became a friend to the poets William Wordsworth (1770-1850), Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) and Robert Southey (1774-1843). This book became very influential to many writers, including Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) and Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) who like De Quincey suffered from their own addictions.
From the depths of the appalling opium nightmares De Quincey did manage to have some success in controlling the habit and the `Confessions' is an interesting book on the pleasures and pains of opium. Its title may draw those curious souls seeking sensational revelations of debauchery but they will be sadly disappointed and its wordy prose style and classical references may become a little tedious and put some readers off. That said, the book is quite enlightening to those willing to stick with it!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Clouded by smoking verbosity 2 Sep 2014
Dense prose, while engaging in some books, prohibits this from being 'enjoyable', yet is a parable of its time and as such is a view on the world through clouded eyes. Possibly the original work - half the subsequent publication may have been better

As far as 'drug' books go - a trailblazer now overtaken.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Birthday gift 18 May 2014
By rosec
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Can't vouch for the content as this was a gift, so I can only judge the book by its cover and say that the cover and blurb looked good! Item arrived promptly too.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Addiction literature 25 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It has been suggested that van Gogh painted the way he did because he was mentally ill. De Quincey is an odd character in this book he describes his life in the Lake District and his addiction to opium (which was quite common at the time, if you could afford it).
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2.0 out of 5 stars Wouldn't recommend. 15 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Very hard to read and extract the story. I gave up half way through it, something I rarely do. very poor.
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