I just finished reading the first part of Thomas De Quincy’s Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, first published in London Magazine in the fall of 1821.
In his Confessions, De Quincy details the first 10 years of a lifelong opium addiction with candor and respect for both his audience and his addiction. The first part of Confessions outlines his background and the key moments in his youth that he associates with his adulthood opium addiction. He speaks to the ‘Reader’ in a personal manner that allows the audience to feel an immediate connection and sense of endearment towards him. De Quincy unabashedly bares his state of mind and thought processes with us and if you get on that train, his running sentences and rambling paragraphs start to make sense and actually begin to flow.
De Quincy was an extremely intelligent man and, even in the depths of opium addiction, he knew it and he makes sure his audience knows it too. He held himself intellectually superior to most men, but his obvious disdain for almost everyone around him is almost charming and definitely insightful. I’m looking forward to finishing Part 2 where De Quincy vividly describes his experiences with opium and his feelings about his addiction and lifestyle. If you’re looking for a short, fascinating read you can download Confessions of an English Opium-Eater for free on Amazon and Google Play or access it online via Project Gutenberg here.
Also, check out Colin Dickey’s revealing analysis The Addicted Life of Thomas De Quincy.
Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.