The first literary addiction memoir, featuring the autobiographical Suspiria de Profundis, the inspiration for the 2018 horror film Suspiria, starring Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swinton and directed by Luca Guadagnino
In this remarkable autobiography, 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 of an English Opium-Eater and Other Writings 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.
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.
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About the Author
Thomas De Quincey (1785–1859) studied at Oxford, where he failed to earn his degree but discovered opium. He later met Coleridge, Southey and the Wordsworths. From 1828 until his death, he lived in Edinburgh and made his living from journalism.
Barry Milligan is a professor of English at Wright State University and author of Pleasures and Pains: Opium and the Orient in Nineteenth-Century British Culture.
“Mind-blowingly modern . . . [De Quincey’s] poetic depictions of the wild hallucinations that punctuated his years with the drug transfixed his contemporaries. To us, though, his story is revelatory mostly for its eerie familiarity.” —The New York Times Book Review
“De Quincey’s rather majestic, classically learned and singular style inspires every page of his writing. . . . The self-controlled equanimity of this classic volume is little short of miraculous.” —The Guardian