Confessions of an English Opium-Eater - Thomas De Quincey 1826 - John Taylor, London - Fourth Edition ‘Here was the secret of happiness, about which philosophers had disputed for so many ages, at once discovered; happiness might now be bought for a penny, and carried in the waistcoat-pocket; portable ecstasies might be had corked up in a pint-bottle; and peace of mind could be sent down by the mail.’

An early clean and full margined edition of one of the most controversial memoirs ever written, De Quincey illuminates the world of opioid usage in medical, recreational, and criminal capacities. Written when the author was only thirty six, he examines his own experiences of the drug alongside its wider history, from opium dens buried in the heart of London to references of ‘poppy tears’ found within Homer, Virgil, Chaucer, and Shakespeare.
  ‘In this remarkable autobiography, Confessions of an Opium-Eater, Thomas De Quincey hauntingly describes the surreal visions and hallucinatory nocturnal wanderings he took through London-and the nightmares, despair, and paranoia to which he became prey-under the influence of the then-legal painkiller laudanum. Forging a link between artistic self-expression and addiction, Confessions seamlessly weaves the effects of drugs and the nature of dreams, memory, and imagination. First published in 1821, it paved the way for later generations of literary drug users, from Baudelaire to Burroughs, and anticipated psychoanalysis with its insights into the subconscious.’ – Penguin Classics.

Oh, just, subtle, and mighty opium!” de Quincey exclaimed. In Doctor Judas, A Portrayal of the Opium Habit, published in 1895, William Rosser Cobbe noted that de Quincey had great thoughts not because he ate opium, but because he had genius and was able to do something with it in spite of the drug. Cobbe wrote his account of his addiction because he believed that de Quincey’s “extravagant praise of the narcotic” had helped to lure any number of innocents to their ruin. Yet as enamoured of his dreams while under the influence of opium that de Quincey was, he also wrote of the languor when on opium that murders ambition. He decided that if the drug was going to kill him, then he might as well die in the struggle to throw off the tyrant. De Quincey said that if a man usually dreamed of oxen, then he would dream of oxen when on opium, too. His essay was written from the perspective of one who has overcome his affliction.’ – Darryl Pinckney, High and Low on Crack - New York Times Review of Books 2010.

Octavo (18 x 11.5 cm). pp. iv 206 [6 (publisher’s ads)]. In recent half brown cloth over grey paper boards, paper label to spine lettered in black, new endpapers.
  Condition: Near fine, light foxing, slightly heavier to some pages.   Ref: 108765   Price: HK$ 2,000