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Confessions of an English Opium-Eater

Thomas De Quincey

Book Overview: 

Though apparently presenting the reader with a collage of poignant memories, temporal digressions and random anecdotes, the Confessions is a work of immense sophistication and certainly one of the most impressive and influential of all autobiographies. The work is of great appeal to the contemporary reader, displaying a nervous (postmodern?) self-awareness, a spiralling obsession with the enigmas of its own composition and significance. De Quincey may be said to scrutinise his life, somewhat feverishly, in an effort to fix his own identity.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .at, meantime, was the master of the house himself?  Reader, he was one of those anomalous practitioners in lower departments of the law who—what shall I say?—who on prudential reasons, or from necessity, deny themselves all indulgence in the luxury of too delicate a conscience, (a periphrasis which might be abridged considerably, but that I leave to the reader’s taste): in many walks of life a conscience is a more expensive encumbrance than a wife or a carriage; and just as people talk of “laying down” their carriages, so I suppose my friend Mr. --- had “laid down” his conscience for a time, meaning, doubtless, to resume it as soon as he could afford it.  The inner economy of such a man’s daily life would present a most strange picture, if I could allow myself to amuse the reader at his expense.  Even with my limited opportunities for observing what went on, I saw many scenes of London intrigues and complex ch. . . Read More

Community Reviews

I never thought a memoir about doing drugs could be this dull. There are some interesting aspects, like de Quincy describing what being high is like, but without the language of describing 'highs' that we have today. It makes it harder to penetrate but more interesting in some ways. Also, de Quincy

I imagine this was once the ultimate literary car crash. And people rubbernecked even in the 19th century, which as far as I know did not have radial tires. But there have been so many truly gnarly drug slave narratives since the publication of this once "shocking" book (go Burroughs go!) that this

Opium-Eater is great but it's the rest of the writing here that really captured me. Suspiria de Profundis is a sublime work: its architecture as tortuously digressive and intricately labyrinthine as a Piranesi etching, its mosaics of dreamlight poetry haunting and beautiful like nothing else. De Qui

For the right audience this will be an interesting read. For me there was not enough about what brought me to this book.

In giving Thomas De Quincey’s autobiographical Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (Kindle Edition) 3 stars I find myself trying to justify at last a 4th. The style is too much o

I sometimes seem to have lived for 70 or 100 years in one night; nay, sometimes had feelings representative of a millennium passed in that time, or, however, of a duration far beyond the limits of any human experience. —Confessions

. . . I do not believe that any man, having once tasted the divine

De Quincey’s account on opium consumption is perhaps one of the earliest books on drugs addiction, before Charles Baudelaire’s Paradis artificiels. It seems that De Quincey started taking laudanum to relieve a stomach condition. The drug did not affect him negatively at first; on the contrary, it im

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