Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Confessions of an English Opium-Eater

I am currently reading the Confessions of an English Opium-Eater by Thomas De Quincey. It was written at the beginning of the 19th century and later revised a few decades later. I bought this book about a year ago, for about 3 euros, in the hope that it would be something like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

I have put of on reading it so far because the preface was about his disagreement with Coleridge about him having weak morals for becoming an opium addict while Coleridge claimed he was just a victim of his reuma. This second time I have skipped the preface and started with the novel itself, which also starts with Coleridge, but I read past it. It turns out this is a biographical novel telling the life of the author from the moment he has lost his father and has been entrusted in the care of different guardians. At the quarter mark there is still no mention of the opium-induced dreams as promised on the black cover.

The language is a bit difficult for me, as could be expected of a 19th-century text, but it is made less comprehensible by long passages about Greek and Roman writers and contemporary theologians and philosophers. In conclusion its not really an enjoyable read so far but I will continue to test my endurance, maybe it gets better as the author finishes confessing his childhood and gets to his actual experiences under the influence of opium.

[Update]:It turns out, there is a version of this novel (I presume the first edition, as the one I'm reading is the "improved one") that is only about 88 pages long, so if you're interested in the "good parts" you might just go ahead and by the Oxford edition.

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