CONFESSIONS OF AN ENGLISH OPIUM EATER

13 Aug
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Thus far, I have merely skimmed the cream off this remarkable autobiography*, closed my eyes and willingly acquiesced to its ambrosia. Written in a Victorian era ‘slang’ spoken during England’s 19th century – one gets the sense of walking across wet cobbles on a dark wintry night with only gas lights reflecting the way.

“Surely everyone is aware of the divine pleasures which attend a wintry fireside: candles at four o’clock, warm hearthrugs, …… shutters closed, curtains flowing ……, whilst the wind and rain are raging audibly without.”

Thomas De Quincey, (1785-1859) was an English essayist who first published, anonymously, in a London magazine in 1821. Then, in 1822, ‘Confessions’ was novelized under his own name.

I’ve not included this work as an adjunct to the misgivings of addiction – ‘addiction’, in my opinion, is much too liberal a word, and should be used cautiously. We can all look at the exact same event and see something different. Therefore, if you choose to read this book, set aside everything you know about getting ‘high’, and concentrate, instead, on the sighs that radiate oft every written word by a man under the influence.

We, all of us, are addicts in one way or another. Me? I’m a literary addict. The books I read come alive – and for a short time, after the last page is read, the euphoria lingers. It is a known fact, by those who have chosen to remain in my life, that if I don’t get, at least a daily dose, I fall into a darkness I would not wish on anyone. Addiction? Yes well, we all have them don‘t we? So tread on that judgment carefully.

Those of you with an interest, will find De Quincey worthy of note. Not so much for the ‘normalcy’ of his life but for the ‘mystical’ of it. His prosing is exhilarating.

Written in the first person narrative directed with specific intent toward the reader, De Quincey takes us into his odyssey with laudanum. This is not a book about opium but rather an autobiographical accounting of a man who eats it. Trust that there is a difference.

“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.”

* I read the two parts that were published anonymously in the London Magazine – reproduced on-line, here, by The Project Gutenberg ebook released in 2005.

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3 Responses to “CONFESSIONS OF AN ENGLISH OPIUM EATER”

  1. thewanderingbookmark August 13, 2014 at 8:59 p08 #

    I bought this book years ago and it has been sitting on a bookshelf gathering dust ever since. I actually forgot that that I owned it. I’m going to have to retrieve it and put it on the bedside table so I don’t forget about it again. Great review.

    • WORDMAN August 13, 2014 at 8:59 p08 #

      There is a sequel, ‘Suspiria de Profundis’. I’ve been looking into this book as well. I like De Quincey’s writing form.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. MURDER AS A FINE ART | WORDMAN - May 10, 2015

    […] not have otherwise met him were it not for the fact that he ate Opium. I wrote of that encounter here. Since then, whilst he was an intriguing enough chap, I gave him no further thought. No further […]

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