Read Confessions of an English Opium Eater by Thomas de Quincey Barry Milligan Online


A masterpiece of autobiography, and perhaps the first literary memoir of an addict, the Penguin Classics edition of Thomas De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium-Eater is edited with an introduction by Barry Milligan.Confessions is a remarkable account of the pleasures and pains of worshipping at the 'Church of Opium'. Thomas De Quincey consumed daily large quantitieA masterpiece of autobiography, and perhaps the first literary memoir of an addict, the Penguin Classics edition of Thomas De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium-Eater is edited with an introduction by Barry Milligan.Confessions is a remarkable account of the pleasures and pains of worshipping at the 'Church of Opium'. Thomas De Quincey consumed daily large quantities of laudanum (at the time a legal painkiller), and this autobiography of addiction hauntingly describes his surreal visions and hallucinatory nocturnal wanderings through London, along with the nightmares, despair and paranoia to which he became prey. The result is a work in which the effects of drugs and the nature of dreams, memory and imagination are seamlessly interwoven, describing in intimate detail the mind-altering pleasures and pains unique to opium. Confessions of an English Opium-Eater forged a link between artistic self-expression and addiction, paving the way for later generations of literary addicts from Baudelaire to James Frey, and anticipating psychoanalysis with its insights into the subconscious.This edition is based on the original serial version of 1821, and reproduces two 'sequels', 'Suspiria de Profundis' (1845) and 'The English Mail-Coach' (1849). It also includes a critical introduction discussing the romantic figure of the addict and the tradition of confessional literature, and an appendix on opium in the nineteenth century.Thomas De Quincey (1785-1859) studied at Oxford, failing to take his degree but discovering opium. He later met Coleridge, Southey and the Wordsworths. From 1828 until his death he lived in Edinburgh and made his living from journalism.If you enjoyed Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, you might like William S. Burroughs' Junky, available in Penguin Modern Classics.'De Quincey was one of the first great autobiographers'Jonathan Bate...

Title : Confessions of an English Opium Eater
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ISBN : 9780140439014
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Number of Pages : 240 Pages
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Confessions of an English Opium Eater Reviews

  • Fionnuala
    2019-01-13 20:45

    The Opium Eaters, a comedy, based on the sleeping habits of Thomas de Quincey and Marcel Proust.Characters:Marcel ProustThomas de QuinceyThe curtain goes up on a bedroom scene. Two of the walls are cork-lined, the third is a bare stone wall roughly coated with Roman cement. In the angle of the two cork-lined walls is a narrow wrought-iron bedstead covered with an eiderdown quilt and beside it, a night-table on which lie books, papers, and a little brass bell. Against the stone wall there is a brass bedstead piled high with blankets, and beside it a night-table on which lie books, papers, and a little gold bottle. There is someone lying on each of the beds.Marcel Proust: Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure...(Propping himself on his elbow, he becomes aware of the audience and immediately reaches for the bell which he rings impatiently while calling out for his servant to come and close the curtains):Françoise, Françoise, il faut fermer les rideaux - il y a une foule immense devant la fenêtre!Thomas de Quincey, (sitting up in his bed angrily):My dear sir, desist immediately from your tintinnabulous propensities. These velvet drapes will be closed at the end of the scene and not before, so you are wasting your breath, which I see you have little enough of, in calling for it to be done ahead of time. And indeed your feeble efforts are doubly futile since the character you call for is not even in the play, and the people you speak of are only the audience, such a harmless group that is in no way to be feared, unlike the horrible hoards who people my own dreams; and can I caution you, dear sir, for I perceive you to be something of a valetudinarian, against becoming a confirmed heautontimourousmenos...Marcel Proust, (rubbing his eyes):Bougre! Qui est-ce qui me lance des propos incompréhensibles plein de mots intérminables et de phrases impénétrables?T de Q, (swinging his legs over the side of the bed):Ah, you wonder who addresses you in such elaborately constructed language? Allow me to introduce myself. (He walks to the centre of the stage) I am Thomas de Quincey and you and I are characters in a play, and please note, my dear sir, that this play is in English, and therefore oblige us by refraining from any outbursts à la française henceforth. I might remind you also that this play is being staged in the year of our Lord, 2013 to mark the bicentenary of the events contained in one of the chapters of the most famous of my works, the essay with the much disputed title among my peers of 'Confessions', yes, my dear sir, not a sensational 'Diary of an Addict', but the humble Confessions of an English Opium Eater, and a work furthermore in which my contemporaries believed I was being too confidential and too communicative..MP, (rising from his bed to look at a calendar hanging on the wall):But if this is indeed the year 2013, then this play is surely meant to mark the centenary of the publication of my most famous work, my 'Recherche', that single work on which I devoted the labour of my whole life, and had dedicated my intellect, blossoms and fruits, to the slow and elaborate toil of constructing it...T de Q, (holding up a document):I think that you are on the wrong page of the script, my dear sir, those are in fact my lines, taken directly from page 175 of the 'Confessions', referring to my own life’s work, begun upon too great a scale for the resources of the architect alas, and which because of the very subject of this play, was likely to stand as a memorial of hopes defeated, of baffled efforts, of materials uselessly accumulated; of foundations laid that were never to support a super-structure, of the grief and the ruin of the architect.MP, (moving towards the front of the stage and speaking directly to the audience):Strange how these words of his recall my own fears and doubts concerning the completion and future acclaim of the 'Recherche', although I always subscribed to the belief that true works of art are slow to receive their full recognition, and must wait for a period when the author himself will have crumpled to dust. This centenary celebration, and your devoted presence proves me right.(He nibbles on the corner of his moustache and mumbles to himself): Where are the Bergottes and the Blochs? All gone and forgotten while I alone have survived to become the keystone of modern literature...T de Q, (lying down again upon his bed): But alas, opium had a palsying effect on my intellectual faculties...MP, (walking across to T’s bedside table, picking up the gold bottle and sniffing its contents):I too have often reflected on the kinds of sleep induced by the multiple extracts of ether, of valerian, of opium...T de Q, (closing his eyes):I must now pass to what is the main subject of these confessions, to the history of what took place in my dreams. At night, when I lay in my bed, vast processions passed along in mournful pomp; friezes of never-ending stories, that to my feelings were as sad and as solemn as if they were stories drawn from times before Oedipus or Priam, before Tyre, before Memphis. MP, (massaging his temples):I feel something quiver in me, shift, try to rise, the glimmer of a visual memory, the elusive eddying of stirred-up colours...a magic lantern full of impalpable iridescences, multicoloured apparitions where legends are depicted as in a wavering, momentary stained-glass window...T de Q, (in a dreamy voice):A theatre seemed suddenly opened and lighted up within my brain, which presented nightly spectacles of more than earthly splendour. As the creative state of the eye increased, a sympathy seemed to arise between the waking and the dreaming states of the brain in one point, that whatsoever I happened to call up and to trace by a voluntary act upon the darkness was very apt to transfer itself to my dreams...MP, (going back to sit on the side of his bed):Yes, what one has meant to do during the day, one accomplishes only in one’s dreams, that is to say after it has been distorted by sleep into following another line than one would have chosen when awake. The same story branches off and has a different ending.T de Q:All this and other changes in my dreams were accompanied by deep-seated anxiety and gloomy melancholy, such as wholly incommunicable by words...MP, (lying down):But my sadness was only increased by those multi-coloured apparitions of the lantern..T de Q:The sense of space, and in the end the sense of time, were both powerfully affected. Buildings, landscapes, &c., were exhibited in proportions so vastly as the bodily eye is not fitted to receive....MP, (closing his eyes):In Combray, I moved through the church...a space with, so to speak, four dimensions - the fourth being Time - extending over the centuries...T de Q:The minutist incidents of childhood, or forgotten scenes of later years, were often revived...MP: I have many pictures preserved by my memory of what Combray was during my childhood..T de Q:The following dream...a Sunday morning in May...Easter Sunday..right before me lay the scene which could really be commanded from that situation, but exalted, as was usual, and solemnised by the power of dreams...the hedges were rich with white roses...MP:It was at the month of May that I the church..little branches of buds of a dazzling whiteness...T de Q:I find it impossible to banish the thought of death when I am walking alone in the endless days of summer...MP:That summer day seemed as dead, as immemorially ancient as...a mummyT de Q:Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...........MP:Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz..................Audience:Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz..................Readers:Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz........................

  • Paul Bryant
    2018-12-28 14:35

    If there is reincarnation I want them to put a hold on mine until humanity has invented drugs that don't have a down-side to them. No tiresome side effects, like early death. And they'll be cheap. And you'll still be able to fire up your jet pack and get to the office and do your job and impress your team leader. And no skin blemishes. O drugs of the future, I salute you and your friendliness and complete lack of ill effects! Because you see opium, for one, as Thomas de Quincey demonstrates in this famous but I think not much read book, has seriously deleterious effects upon the user's syntax. It goes all to hell. Thomas can start sentences but finds it to finish them, so he adds in piles of clausy digressiony blah-blah-blah uninteresting detail in exactly the same way that drugged up people think that talking about their tattoos or their dealer for hours could possibly be interesting even for a halfnanosecond to their undrugged locutors.. When people in the future take their drugs of no down-side, they will converse graciously about matters of interest to all. And plus, they will never sit down heavily on their girlfriend's little cute dog and squash it flat, like Christopher Moltisanti did in The Sopranos. He didn't even realise he'd done it until she came in and asked him where her little darling was. In the future, that will never happen. O Cosette!

  • William1
    2018-12-21 15:39

    3.5 stars. One can see why Confessions was such a favorite among the drug-addled youngsters of the 60s and 70s. The title is catchy but--surprise!--its not primarily a book about drug experiences. Only the last 20 or so pages plumb that. It's about suffering, homelessness, and penury. There were passages that reminded me of 1993's Travels with Lizbeth: Three Years on the Road and on the Streets by Lars Eighner, a wonderfully written book about homelessness. The class system of Britain, thank God it's dying, systemically prevented true eleemosynary activity. Anyone deemed to be a victim of their own excess was not considered worthy of care. As de Quincey states: The stream of London charity flows in a channel which, though deep and mighty, is yet noiseless and underground; not obvious or readily accessible to poor houseless wanderers; and it cannot be denied that the outside air and framework of London society is harsh, cruel, and repulsive. It took me ten pages to acclimate to the slightly archaic diction, but once I did the reading was enjoyable. There's a guardedness about certain episodes in the author's life which evoked wonder and curiosity in this reader. He focuses on opium addiction almost to the utter exclusion of everything else. The focus is laser-like. Who the man himself might actually be, remains a mystery. Recommended.

  • Tyler
    2019-01-11 13:41

    If I published under my own name a book that was this bad, I’d fall through the floor for shame. With fewer than 20 pages drearily sketching the use of opium, what’s left is a mind-numbing autobiography of atrocious prose in service to pathological vanity. How does this writer get away with it? The structure is a disaster. A footnote on one page tells about the family name Quincey; that footnote refers readers to an appendix; that appendix has yet more footnotes, all devoted to the name. Other footnotes take up over a page, and I couldn’t turn even three pages without running into a footnote of some length. Similar discontinuity sends readers down many blind alleys. The chapter titles have nothing to do with the content, and the text in places is indexed with numbers which even break down into Roman numerals – all to make inconsequential points.De Quincey mounts a defense in the first pages against the poet Coleridge. A fellow opium addict, Coleridge had apparently attacked De Quincey’s use of opium as being improper. This lively dustup gives the book some historical cachet, but it also reminds me of two alcoholics arguing over who’s drunk. After that, the opaque perspective yields no clue what the author was actually like.Thickly overwritten prose flummoxes readers. The author brandishes verbose, circuitous sentences studded with Latin and Greek, the latter in its own alphabet. So esoteric is his writing that at times I simply had no idea what the author was getting at; at other times I had no idea what he just said.More grating still is the silly affectation. The author in places addresses people and things in the second person using thee and thou, as if his puerile personal cares call for poetic license. In other places, his prodigious recollections pass off ersatz sentiment as something authentic. The tedious, self-absorbed content ultimately goes on to chronicle every aching hangnail this crazy fool ever had.De Quincey’s main goal seems to be to twist language into a pretzel. It’s a matter of indifference to him whether he actually communicates anything to his readers. I consider as a result that readers should treat this book with a similar indifference.

  • Hadrian
    2019-01-15 16:40

    This is as much a treat for the prose style as it is for the hallucinatory detail.The edition I received from the library (dating from the 1890s!) is in two parts. The first is the 'Confessions' as shown in the title, and is split into three further parts - a biographical sketch of the author's life, and The Pleasures and Pains of Opium, respectively. His descriptions are long-winded and evocative. Time and space slow down, and he felt lifted up to a supreme pleasure, where all pain was gone.Then once the drug wears off, you spend all night wishing you want to die and your body rebels against you. But I'll let de Quincey describe that better. The second part of the book is called Suspiria de Profundis, or 'Sighs from the Depths'. This is a fragmentary, yet brilliant series of descriptions on the hallucinations he saw and heard while under the influence. Roman goddesses, sunken cities, German mountaintops, human memory, and so forth. A dark fragmented phantasm.Don't do drugs kids! Opium was perfectly legal when the author took it, and all of its cousins - like heroin - are still too dangerous. Unless you're Vollmann, who can shrug off cocaine like the rest of us drink coffee (so I hear). But you're not. Seriously, don't do it. I beg you. It'll wreck us lesser mortals and shatter our minds and mortal bodies. Don't even do it for the chance that you'll produce some real neat art for it. It's not worth it. The good creativity and emotion will fade away into a broken memory soon enough and all that's left of you is dying.

  • Alex
    2019-01-03 19:59

    "First published in 1821, it paved the way for later generations of literary drug users, from Baudelaire to Burroughs." Whee!While this is maybe not indispensable, it's also not more than 100 pages, so it gets five stars based on its ratio of awesomeness vs. time commitment. And it is pretty awesome. De Quincey is funny and weird and literate, and the roots of all kinds of drug stories - from those quoted above to Trainspotting and, oh, A Million Little Pieces - are clearly visible.In one of those proud yet crushing moments where you realize that thought you were so psyched about of has, as Public Enemy said, been thought before: I've always thought that people get more honest when they drink, so if that nice new friend of yours gets weirdly mean and creepy when he's drunk, you might want to think twice about inviting him to your wedding. And here's de Quincey: "Most men are disguised by sobriety; and it is when they are drinking that men display themselves in their true complexion of character."That's from page 46, in the middle of an absolutely glorious comparison of the effects of wine and opium. One of my favorite passages because, unlike opium, I'm quite familiar with the effects of wine. "The pleasure of wine is always mounting, and tending to a crisis, after which it declines." Really, there's no sense quoting more of it; the whole two pages is great.If you're interested in drugs, or wine, or the idea of a counter culture, or pretty writing, or the history of opium and its significant effect on the world, this is worth an afternoon.

  • Beverly
    2018-12-29 19:34

    Tedious, he uses a word "viz." about 10,000 times. Obscure and rambling, but it was written a long, long time ago.

  • Jan-Maat
    2019-01-02 18:46

    Thomas de Quincey started taking opium in the form of laudanum - conveniently available over the counter from all good chemists in early 19th century Britain - as pain relief. At no time was he taking his opium directly either by smoking or even eating, the title is indicative of his interest in finding the right phrase or most striking turn of words rather than the most accurate description. The downside of this search of his for the best turn of phrase is that in the second edition of his book he freely expanded sections and in doing so crossed the line from the florid to the overwritten.He attempts to set out the positives and the negatives of his experiences with laudanum. My lasting impression was that it was overall horrific, the positive side didn't really come over terribly well. The fact of his addiction has to speak for itself. De Quincey wrote that his opium dreams where full of vivid memories of what he had read, his classical education meant that gigantic and threatening Roman armies loomed up and marched unrelentingly through his imagination. He imagines the agricultural labourer, laudanum was not just widely available at the time but also cheap, being overwhelmed by dreams of cows. Worse to imagine the dreams of the industrial labourer with their daily grind magnified in their imaginations.The oddity of the book for me is that the drug visions sit alongside the ideal of Victorian domesticity. As expressed by de Quincey as the wife serving tea to the gathered family from a silver teapot. This is a comfortable, manageable, middle class addiction. It's a long way from the world of The Corner.

  • J.G. Keely
    2019-01-10 19:38

    While researching the use of opium for my own (fictional) writings into the subject, I came across this fascinating article about a fellow whose habit of collecting paraphernalia led him to become both the leading expert on them and an addict. The interview led me to the work of Dr. H.H. Kane, and Kane's analysis led me back to de Quincey, with whom I had some prior familiarity due to my literary studies.De Quincey's writing style is precise and exacting, but he does not have that flair for storytelling which marks a fascinating diarist. Indeed, many of the most intriguing parts of his tale are those he declined to go into in great detail, and throughout one can see his struggles not so much in what he has written on the page, but in what he cannot bring himself to say. He comes to the cusp of his own suffering again and again, but to cross that threshold is to relive his greatest shame and disappointment, so he often skirts it.No doubt this is why Dr. Kane accuses de Quincey of presenting all the beneficial sides of the drug's use, and ignoring the dangers. Yet I found myself constantly thankful that I was not in de Quincey's position, for his constant and unabated suffering seemed clear enough to me.Indeed, when he spoke of being unable to complete his work (the promised third part of his Confessions never arrived), of the weeks or months passing by without his being perceptibly closer to completing all of the great tasks and projects he had set before himself--one does not have to be a taker of laudanum to sympathize, as being an artist of any stripe is quite enough to understand that eternal struggle.But though some of his narrative is less than vivid, most interesting are his descriptions of opioid dreams, which visions were so influential to fantastical authors like Gogol and Lovecraft. Indeed, his vision of the 'impossible castles of the clouds' are recognizable in the writings of numerous mythos authors, who were so obsessed with the realm of dreams, especially when it bled into quotidian life.

  • Andrei Tamaş
    2018-12-21 15:35

    Deși se vede clar tentativa de roman, cartea are mai mult nuanțe științifice. Nu se referă doar la opium și la urmările sale medicale, ci și psihologice și -respectiv- sociale. Încadrarea în timp își spune și ea cuvântul. Cartea a fost scrisă când "cele două războaie ale opiului" erau în plinătatea lor. Anglia descoperise "secretul Chinei" și se luase cu dansa la harță. Nu vreau să-mi imaginez farmecul dat de această substanță dacă două dintre puterile lumii moderne au dus două mari războaie pentru el. :)

  • Capsguy
    2019-01-03 16:53

    Sure, the lead-up to the actual confessions of taking opium and the resulting consequences was longer than the apparent subject matter of the book, but who cares? I found this to be an insightful text into the dangers of at the time a widely used drug. This also apparently paved the way for many other drug substance abuse memoirs, of which the only one I can think of that I have read were Junky by Burroughs. Confessions is written in a clear, concise manner and with the interesting subject matter can be read in a couple hours if that. Nowadays, where drug recognition, understanding and its place in society has allowed people across all levels of society to have a firm understanding of the life of drug users and their substances, this text, almost 200 years old may at times be read as slightly as a bore. I don't think that necessarily detracts from the quality and importance of the book itself though, especially since there's some pretty vivid scenes in his dream state, and the level of psychological self-analysis for the time was impressive, for one only versed in literature.My biggest wish was that he went into further depth into the effects of prolonged opium use and dependency. Although, considering this, and many other published works at the time was taken up by a newspaper, it may have had its length restricted. That, or it may have been too vivid for print for the general public.

  • Andrea
    2018-12-22 14:01

    I was disappointed I confess, though I don't know why I had high expectations given I have always found people on drugs profoundly boring—though I note that usually they find themselves extremely interesting. De Quincy writes 'I have, for the general benefit of the world, innoculated myself as it were, with the poinson of 8000 drops of laudanum per day (just for the same reason as a French surgeon inoculated himself lately with cancer...)' What struck me most was privilege, even in his poverty after running away as a teenager. After all, he heads to Eton, where he will always be at home, to get Lord so-and-so to co-sign a loan against his expected fortune from the Jews. I was sad but not surprised to find such a stereotypical view of jews as existing simply to lend money to wealthy but under-age men. A window of empathy into the lives of the poor and oppressed emerged, but he only opened the curtain a little, hardly even looked properly through it. There is disappointingly little here about London and walking its streets, which is what I expected to find given all I had read. What I hadn't expected to find was a crazy reflection of imperial angst and racism. He's in the remote mountains in a cottage when a 'Malay' comes to the door and doesn't speak English. He contrasts 'the beautiful English face of the girl and its exquisite fairness, together with her erect and independant attitude ... with the sallow and bilious skin of the Malay...his small, fierce, restless eyes, thin lips, slavish gestures and adorations'. They can't communicate, but apparently all the man wants is somewhere to rest before he goes on his way. As a parting gift, de Quincey offers him a chunk of opium, which the man proceeds to eat entire--'the quantity was enough to kill three dragoons and their horses, and I felt some alarm for the poor creature; but what could be done?' Nothing apparently, he sends him out in the night, and is anxious for his life the next few nights but upon hearing no reports of the dead body turning up, his mind is relieved.Except it's not. After the years of happily enjoying his regular opium habit, it eventually spirals down into pain and terrible dreams/hallucinations. These are regularly frequented by what he calls 'Oriental' dreams. He writes 'The Malay has been a fearful enemy for months. I have been every night, through his means, transported into Asiatic scenes...The causes of my horror lie deep, and some of them must be common to others. Southern Asia in general is the seat of awful images and associations.' Holy crap I thought, the inscrutable asian 'other' that he might well have murdered comes back to his dreams, takes him to the very places his opium comes from -- though that isn't thought through or even mentioned. I suppose this is before the Opium wars and Britain's great Opium-dealing adventure overseas, it prefigures it in a way. And unlike the Heart of Darkness fear of 'primitive' man (though he brings up that up as well in relation to 'barbarous' Africa), it is instead fear and trembling before an older greater culture--'the ancient, monumental, cruel and elaborate religions...The mere antiquity of Asiatic things, of their institutions, histories, modes of faith, &c., is so impressive, that to me teh vast age of the race and name overpowers the sense of youth in the individual'.There is so much to think about there, I hope to come back to it at some time, though surely this must have been written about. The only other interesting thing, funny really, was the statement on political economists of the day: 'I saw that these were generally the very dregs and rinsings of the human intellect; and that any man of sound head...might take up the whole academy of modern economists, and throttle them between heaven and earth with his finger and thumb, or bray their fungus-headss to powder with a lady's fan'. Which I love, though I am not sure exactly how that insult works...

  • Tony
    2018-12-27 17:53

    I read this as de Quincey appeared as a character in Murder as a Fine Art. Wow can you imagine what he would have been like if he had been at his zenith in the late 60’s? I was reminded at times of Fat Freddy in The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, who one night decided to write a book. He took ‘a little something’ to aid the imagination and another ‘little something’ for creativity etc, etc…When his progress was checked on the following morning his pages just read ‘and then and then and then and then and then and then….’.That’s how some of this feels. And it’s better for it.A rather interesting account.

  • Jim
    2019-01-02 16:39

    Years ago, I had started Thomas de Quincey's magnificent book, but laid it aside for some inexplicable reason. Now I see that this volume -- Confessions of an English Opium Eater -- is infinitely worth reading through to the end, and even returning to its glories at a later date. De Quincey's opium habit led to his heterodox approach to life, which alternated between manic passages of glory to massive funereal threnodies, of which the following sentence from "The English Mail Coach" is but a sample: "I sate, and wept in secret the tears that men have ever given to the memory of those that died before the dawn, and by the treachery of earth, our mother."Of the three essays in this volume, by far the best is the first, the eponymic Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. The second, Suspiria de Profundis, is also tinged by its author's drug habit, particularly in its most depressive phase. The shorter "The English Mail Coach," begins with youthful exultation and ends with a long meditation on an night collision with a gig when the one-eyed coachman drove while asleep. In that collision, De Quincey speculates that a young woman was killed, though we never know for sure.There is a scholarly elegance to De Quincey's writing: Oh, burthen of solitude, thou cleavest to man through every stage of his being -- in his birth, which has been -- in his life, which is -- in his death, which shall be -- mighty and essential solitude! that wast, and art, and art to be; -- thou broodest, like the spirit of God moving upon the surface of the deeps, over every heart that sleeps in the nurseries of Christendom.De Quincey had an awesome background in the Greek and Latin classics, and his prose is mightily influenced by those two dead languages, but only in the best sense of the word.

  • Elena Druță
    2019-01-12 19:47

    Romanul este o autobiografie, unde autorul îi prezintă cititorului viața sa, din copilărie până la maturitate și influența opiului asupra tuturor aspectelor din viața profesională și personală. Deși la prima vedere romanul pare a fi doar o poveste al unui dependent de droguri, Confesiunile unui opioman englez aduce în prim plan greutățile prin care trece De Quincey în copilărie, viața de vagabond dusă ca adolescent în Londra, dar și maturizarea sa. Opiul joacă un rol important în toate deciziile pe care le ia autorul, dar dependența sa de acest drog este foarte bine descrisă, chiar romanticizată. Recenzia completă o găsiți pe blog.

  • Justin
    2019-01-03 17:02

    Where do I even begin with this book? Did it enlighten me at times? Yes. Did I want to huck it against a wall or chuck it out my window? Yes given it was a paperback and not on my tablet. I read this for research purposes for a future work of mine and well it seems I didn't get much out of it and may have to look elsewhere. The author Thomas de Quincey explains his trials and experiments with opium. He also explains his dull hopeless life for the first half of the book. Let me state that he knew how to start a sentence but he sure as hell did not know how to finish one. I have never in my life ever read a book with so many run-on, rambling sentences. He goes into detail with comma after comma sometimes two to three pages before ending the sentence. The saddest part is I don't think he was on opium when he wrote those parts! Aside from that it was sometimes unbearable to read because of the big words and things he talks about. Perhaps if one was on opium as they read they could better understand. I was confused throughout most of the book but I did understand a good amount as well. What I took from the beginning was that he was in college and ended up being an apprentice to a local businessman and he ended up living in a shitty ass room with a little orphan girl(I am being dead serious). No worries he didn't do anything bad but he cared for her without really ever getting to know her or ask why she was there.By this time I am just dying to read about his opium habits but no I must wait a bit longer. So he then talks of how he met this prostitute( I think that's what she was), woman of the night, however you want to say it. He talks about how he got with her in such a way that I had to read it four times till finally coming the conclusion that he had sex with her cause he never says it directly. He never asks her name or where she's from but they talk and learn from one another and have some occasional fun, pretty much what we call friends with benefits today..without knowing the persons name. He had this appreciation for her pretty much because his life was soooo eventful and fulfilling. So when he finally talks about opium instead of talking about himself he explains how high class townspeople in England do it in secret and though he cannot name names he assures the reader that they do do it and he knows not if they abuse it. He then goes on to explain that he's had bad stomach pains which is the reason he decides to do opium(uh huh cause that's what you take for stomach pains, I guess there was no Pepto back in the 1800's). Well as he takes his opium he assures the reader he is no abuser of the drug and cannot be compared to others cause he knows not how the take or use the drug. He also assures the reader it is okay for him because he knows what he's doing, he repeats this over and over throughout the chapter and rest of the book perhaps because he assumes the reader thinks he's a abuser( I didn't think of him an abuser of opium but an abuser of comma's and semi-colons).The book never takes off or goes anywhere except in circles. I did enjoy some moments though so I can't say this book was a total loss. In two chapters he explains the pains of opium however the only thing painful was trying to understand what he was talking about. What I took from it was whenever he got high on a Tuesday or Saturday he would go to an opera(next time your high perhaps try this). He said he had a whole new found appreciation for opera when high, of course he did. So, I noticed that he did very little in telling of the pains of opium in the chapters and in fact does a better job in the footnotes. Why did I continue to read this till the end? To be honest I kept hoping it got better which it did little of but again had moments. Also I got so far into it that it seemed pointless in abandoning it half way through so I kept chugging on so to speak, paining through it. There was one page that I felt was what I was looking for and had been waiting for since I started reading it. Near the end he describes what he either felt or feels like when on opium claiming he was an Egyptian god, with other gods, animals like monkey's and cockatoos staring at him, how he was in a Asian forest and Vishnu hated him and how he was buried in a coffin for a thousand years. I read this page at thought, YES! Finally some trippiness! I sat down and read the final 80 pages or so of this book because I needed to finish it and I felt I was reading it just to finish it after a while. Why 3 stars? As I said, it did have good moments where when I understood it I felt it was solid but for the most part it was quite exhausting. Would I read this again? Absolutely not. Would I recommend it to others? If you want to learn 5% of opium pains, 20% of a boring English man's life and 75% of utter confusing enlightening madness then by all means dip right in. I'm not sure if I took anything useful that I needed for this book but I did learn one thing, some people do not know how to finish sentences.

  • Alina Cătărău
    2019-01-06 14:54

    La început, cartea Confesiunile unui opioman englez (Confessions of an English Opium-Eater), scrisă de Thomas De Quincey și reeditată în anul 2012 de Editura Adevărul Holding în colecția 101 cărți de citit într-o viață, nu m-a atras de prima dată. Însă, când ești un filolog (în devenire), anumite circumstanțe academice te împing să ieși din zona ta de comfort intelectual.Înainte să vorbesc despre conținutul cărții, trebuie neapărat să vă amintesc faptul că aceste confesiuni au fost scrise pe la începutul secolului al XIX-lea, cartea fiind publicată în anul 1821, perioadă în care narcoticele erau un subiect tabu. Astfel. De Quincey a fost deschizătorul de drumuri pentru un nou gen literar, și anume literatura narcoticelor (literature of addiction). Un alt act de curaj pentru acele vremuri este faptul că autorul englez a scris o lucrare autobiografică legată de opiu.Pe scurt, la vârsta de 7 ani, De Quincey rămâne orfan de tată, astfel, el ajunge în grija a patru tutori. După ce schimbă numeroase școli prestigioase, protagonistul nostru ajunge la Eton, unde își descoperă pasiunea pentru greaca veche și literatura antică. Totuși, preocupările sale intelectuale nu îi sunt de ajuns. La vârsta de 17 ani, De Quincey încearcă să-și abandoneze studiile liceale, însă tutorii săi nu acceptă această idee. Astfel, el decide să fugă de la Eton. Adolescentul trece prin mai multe peripeții: călătorește în Țara Galilor, rămâne fără bani, ajunge la Londra, unde aproape moare de foame, însă este salvat de o prostituată de 15 ani (Ann), al cărei gest și amintire îl vor urmări toată viața.

  • Marko Vasić
    2019-01-04 18:43

    Potpuno jedno seksi, egzistencijalistički-filozofsko psihodelično autobiografsko esejče iz 1821. godine, koje mi ulepšalo veče. Bilo bi savršeno da nema previše digresija koje čitavoj ispovesti daju jedan utisak nepotrebnog nagomilavanja i udaljavanja od teme - jer sadržina svake digresije, po svom obimu, mogla bi da se izdvoji kao posebna priča.

  • Richard Newton
    2019-01-13 21:01

    An odd little book, which if you know nothing about in advance probably won't fit with your expectations given the title. There are sections on opium and its effects on the author, but large chunks of the book mention it hardly at all.The book is structured in 3 parts. The first two of which are seemingly unconnected, but which the author claims to bring together in the third. This is at best partially achieved. In these sections there is a rough chronological series of events, and a lot of random musings on all sorts of things that came into the authors mind whilst writing. Many completely irrelevant to the main topic. Much of this writing is very long winded.This probably does not sound at this point like a four star book. It gets four stars as for all its faults it is mostly a joy to read. The writing is at times magnificent, amusing, compelling, and melancholy. I don't think anyone writes like this 200 or so years since this was written. A pity. I will try more of De Quincey's writing.

  • George
    2018-12-20 15:55

    "Confessions of an English Opium-Eater" written in 1821 by Thomas De Quincey is a short, yet interesting account of the author's addiction to opium. Even though it was written 200 years ago, it is still relevant today. The first half of the book provides some autobiographical material and the second half describes his opium use. Although De Quincey is overly wordy in places, and the account meanders at times, I still think his humanity shines through the wordy text. He discusses how his use of opium started out as occasional, recreational use (mostly Saturday nights). In this part he discusses the pleasures of opium: "Happiness might now be bought for a penny and carried in the waist coat pocket." Later he began using it for medical purposes as well as for recreation. Several years elapsed in which he says he was able to function normally as a regular opium user. However, his use of opium eventually became a daily habit, and then, an overwhelming daily habit. In this part he describes some of the horrors of opium use. Then he discusses his attempts to gradually reduce the daily amount and how difficult it was to lower the amount below a certain level. Finally, he briefly discusses how he was free from opium - although its terrors still haunted him from a distance. Overall I thought this was a good account of drug use, addiction, and withdrawal. I would have liked more details on the withdrawal process and how he finally became free of opium (and a little less on the pleasures of opium). Imperfect as this book is, De Quincey deserves credit for writing the first book of a new genre. Note: I listened to the Unabridged Audiobook, Release Date: 08-21-2015, Publisher: Naxos AudioBooks, 3 hrs and 41 mins

  • El
    2018-12-29 18:55

    This is an interesting and candid look at a man in the early 19th-century (originally published 1821) who has a deep love and affection for opium. Opium, though not illegal at the time (and in fact actually highly accessible to the general public), is addictive and was often the drug of choice for many writers and poets of the time. De Quincey suffered from a chronic stomach malady for which he felt the laudanum improved. The majority of his family died off from tuberculosis, but De Quincey made it to a healthy age - in great part, he felt, because of the opium.The Confessions are split into different sections, some detailing the drug itself, while others focus on his experiences with it, and ending with the difficulties as a result (nightmares, physical changes, etc.). De Quincey also wrote a revision in 1856 which is included here.Apparently De Quincey made laudanum sound like too much fun, causing some controversy amongst publishers and the public. Additionally De Quincey had some choice words about the poet and De Quincey's contemporary William Wordsworth, to the point that Wordsworth and his family would have nothing to do with him after the Confessions were published. See, drugs make you lose your friends.

  • David
    2019-01-03 16:37

    After circling this book for years, I finally read it today. And it knocked my socks off. DeQuincey writes like an angel. Even in the less structured passages (his descriptions of his opium dreams are somewhat disjointed) his writing is so astonishingly brilliant that the reader is swept along. In her introduction to the Penguin Classic edition, Alethea Hayter describes DeQuincey's prose as "highly charged, close-textured, every word and syllable choice enriched with music and imagery", "prose (that) works like a spell, powerfully moving even apart from the meaning of the words."I can't improve on that characterization.

  • Edward
    2018-12-27 14:03

    AcknowledgementsChronologyIntroductionFurther ReadingA Note on the Texts--Confessions Of An English Opium-Eater--'Suspiria De Profundis'--'The English Mail-Coach'Appendix: Opium in the Nineteenth CenturyGlossaryNotes

  • Nathan
    2018-12-25 21:00

    "The Addicted Life of Thomas De Quincey"by Colin DickeyLapham's Quarterly, 30 March 2013

  • Hugo Emanuel
    2018-12-18 14:48

    “Confessions Of An English Opium Eater” (em português julgo estar traduzido como "Confissões de Um Opiómano Inglês") de Thomas De Quincey é uma obra da qual transborda engano, expectativas frustradas, contradições, justificações pouco convincentes, meias-verdades e hilaridade não intencional.O título da obra, tremendamente escandaloso e sensacionalista para o ano em que foi publicada (1821) com o óbvio intuito de fazer dinheiro rápido, promete muito mais do que efectivamente oferece ao leitor. Ao lermos tal título somos levados a crer que nesta se abordará extensivamente a relação do autor com o ópio de uma forma abrasiva, despudorada e reveladora. No entanto, estas “confissões” estão envoltas num véu de reticência e parcialidade tão espesso que entregam apenas parte do que prometem.Esta auto-biografia esta dividida em quatro partes – “Confessions of an English Opium Eater”; “The Pleasures Of Opium”; “The Pains Of Opium” e “The Daughter Of Lebanon”. Na Primeira Parte De Quincey relata alguns acontecimentos da sua adolescência e juventude que ele crê terem contribuído para o início do consumo de ópio e a relação que teve com esta droga durante quase toda a sua vida. Estes acontecimentos são interessantes em particular porque se distinguem tão marcadamente do percurso esperado de um jovem que pertencesse a uma respeitável família de classe-média e que frequentara Oxford, como era o caso de De Quincey. Algumas das experiências relatadas nas suas confissões são a fuga na sua adolescência de uma escola preparatória com ligações á Universidade de Oxford, um período da sua juventude em que viveu num estilo de vida que em pouco divergia da de um sem-abrigo – dormia na rua, em casas abandonadas e infestadas de ratos, alimentando-se do pouco que conseguia arranjar e uma admitida relação de amizade com prostitutas, em particular uma de nome Ann. Tais admissões por um “gentlemen” inglês eram bastante escandalosas na época. No entanto, apesar de De Quincey afirmar no inicio da obra que contará toda a verdade, fala muito pouco profundamente ou apenas menciona muito de leve o elementos mais escandalosos da sua história, admitindo por vezes não poder contar isto ou aquilo, pedindo ao leitor a sua indulgência e compreensão por não o fazer. Não obstante este período da sua vida estar repleto de momentos dramáticos e interessantes, a forma como De Quincey os expõe é abreviada e indisciplinada pois apesar da sua prosa ser relativamente poética e elegante (o que não é surpreendente, tendo em conta que era grande admirador de Milton e, em particular, de Wordsworth), é também discursiva e tremendamente digressiva. Aliás, este é um dos textos mais indisciplinados que já li na minha vida. O autor está constantemente a incluir “apartes” que não só são perfeitamente dispensáveis como frequentemente pedantes (podendo estes ser notas de rodapé que ocupam mais de meia-página; um mini-ensaio sobre a origem do conceito de “guardião legal”; defesa do que considera serem virtudes e erradas concepções sobre o ópio, etc.). No entanto, estas digressões que poderão causar num leitor uma justificada sensação de impaciência deram-me vontade de rir não só devido ao seu pedantismo e justificações para o seu comportamento pouco convincentes mas também por se contradizerem frequentemente.Na segunda parte da obra, enumera o que ele considera ser as muitas virtudes do ópio e relata alguns dos prazeres que este lhe proporcionava e situações em que o tomava com o intuito de “engrandecer” certas experiências, tais como uma ida á ópera. Tais admissões são particularmente cómicas se tivermos em conta que Quincey defende veementemente na primeira parte da obra que nunca tomou ópio para satisfazer o seu hedonismo mas apenas para diminuir dores reumáticas e de dentes. Da terceira parte intitulada “The Pains Of Opium”, espera-se, tendo em conta o seu título, que De Quincey indique o que tem de destrutivo o ópio. Em vez disso, afirma que o ópio lhe curou a tuberculose; que não causa dependência (não obstante o facto de admitir, nesta e nas outras partes da obra, ter tentado imensas vezes deixar o ópio por completo, nunca o tendo conseguido senão já quando tinha por volta de setenta anos); que não fomenta o sedentarismo (apesar de afirmar que ficava frequentemente mais de oito horas a perdido nos sonhos e sensações derivados do ópio que consumia) e que não causa demência nem visões (apesar de admitir no fim do seu relato que eventualmente deixou o ópio por temer que os sonhos que este lhe causava lhe viessem a enlouquecer); entre outras contradições. Na verdade, segundo De Quincey as únicas desvantagens que o ópio lhe trouxe foram sonhos aterradores e perturbantes (alguns dos quais relata e que o são de facto). No entanto, De Quincy deixa implícito que o único motivo pelo qual o ópio conjurava tais sonhos no seu cérebro devia-se unicamente a certas experiencias que teve na sua vida, muitos dos quais são relatados nesta “confissão” – o que por sua vez sugere que para outros, os sonhos providenciados pelo ópio não seriam decerto tão aterradores. Todas as contradições que surgem na obra adquirem uma dimensão ainda mais cómica se tivermos em conta que De Quincey reveu as suas “Confissões” em pelo menos mais duas ocasiões (para reedições da obra, que vendeu imenso na altura, como seria de esperar) e em períodos completamente diferentes da sua vida.“The Daughter Of Lebanon” tem muito pouco a ver como o resto da obra, tratando-se apenas de um pequeno conto sobre um pregador que se propõe tentar salvar espiritualmente uma mulher rejeitada por todos. Há quem ache esta secção redundante, mas pessoalmente gostei de a ler e está belissimamente escrita.A hilaridade não intencional da obra, a interessante historia que conta (apesar de não o fazer do modo mais eficaz) e a espreitadela que oferece sobre a vida, opiniões e auto-negação de um consumidor de ópio inglês fez com que eu apreciasse imenso estas “confissões”. No entanto só as posso recomendar a um leitor que tenha não só um considerável interesse pelo tema da obra mas também que tenha uma boa dose de paciência para uma narrativa indisciplinada, digressiva e evasiva.

  • Christine
    2018-12-27 15:01

    Thomas De Quincey is utterly fascinating when he is describing his experiences with opium. The details- ranging from how he was first introduced to laudanum to the difficulty he had attempting to come off of it- are quite valuable to anyone with an interest in what someone actually experienced versus how medical professionals describe the potential fall out. He has been accused of making opium sound like a better habit than it should, but I personally do not see that. To me, Confessions reads like a presentation of one man's experiences- both the euphoric beginning and the dangers of overindulgence and utter dependence. I can't imagine reading about his lack of sleep, horrific dreams, and spells of severe perspiration and anger and thinking "yes, that sounds delightful", but perhaps that is just me.This was docked a star because although I read 19th century works on a regular basis, I found De Quincey's writing to have periods of such a rambling nature that I had to re-read entire (lengthy) paragraphs to follow his thought process. That said, the edition I read was the original, as published in London Magazine in Sept/Oct 1821, with a follow up in 1822, so it was not as long as the later expanded publication others mention in reviews. Definitely a worthy read and a valuable first hand account of a man's experience with and addiction to opium in multiple forms.

  • Parker W
    2019-01-10 19:40

    As a former "eater of opium," I found De Quincey's book to be hauntingly accurate in its description of the effects of opium and the extent and feelings of addiction. Wow. Really powerful, to know that the issue of opiate addiction is nothing new and really hasn't changed since the early 19th century (except perhaps to be more widespread). Furthermore, elements of De Quincey's writing included the kind of tongue-in-cheek sarcastic remarks only an addict would really make or understand. (For example, he mentions that he read in a medical text that a doctor recommended taking less than some *ABSOLUTELY IMMENSE* quantity of opium per day, because the doctor had miscalculated. De Quincey says that during the worst of his daily habit, he made sure to follow this doctor's advice). English humor.... there are others. If you skim you'll miss them.For those not acquainted with opiates, this book will make little sense, and may not be worth the time. But it stands as the world's first look into the life, highs, and extreme lows of one of the first opium addicts. It's also not very long, so give it a shot.

  • Josh
    2018-12-30 16:43

    buy dried papaver somniferum pods from your local grocery, floral or horticulture store--ten pods per person but twenty when it doubt is what i've always said. break open the vagina to eternity removing the babies by billions and grind the cervix, wall and crown to powder for optimum surface area to be absorbed in tea. yes, poppy tea! tea for all...(a splash of lemon juice as the water begins to roll in boil actually creates trace amounts of heroin)

  • pierlapoquimby
    2019-01-06 17:01

    Affascinato dai romantici inglesi e per darmi delle arie lo lessi al liceo.Stupivo i compagni con i metodi di preparazione del laudano, precisando quanti grani andavano disciolti e quali spezie usare per nascondere il forte odore dell'oppio.Io che non ho mai neanche fumato una sigaretta.Strana cosa l'adolescenza.

  • Mark
    2019-01-14 16:44

    Wow, quite a good read. He is a complete genius, though he tends to ramble on... albeit brilliantly. I enjoyed the olde timey vocabulary, and the archaic references. It made the book slow to read, but it also makes it a unique piece of history to enjoy. Grab a blanket, sit on an easy chair, and bust out that bottle of laudanum you got from ye olde apothecary.

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