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Fiction Literary

Confessions of an English Opium-Eater

by (author) Thomas De Quincey

edited by Joel Faflak

Broadview Press
Initial publish date
Feb 2009
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2009
    List Price

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Confessions of an English Opium-Eater remains its author’s most famous and frequently-read work and one of the period’s central statements about both the power and terror of imagination. De Quincey describes the intense “pleasures” and harrowing “pains” of his opium use in lyrical and dramatic prose. A notorious success since its 1821 publication, the work has been an important influence on philosophers, theorists, and psychologists, as well as literary writers, of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. But Confessions is only one part of a larger confessional project conceived by De Quincey over the course of his writing career. Gathered together in this edition, these texts provide a fascinating glimpse of early nineteenth-century British aesthetic, medical, psychological, political, philosophical, social, racial, national, and imperialist attitudes.

This edition includes the 1821 text of Confessions, its important sequel Suspiria de Profundis (1845), and its sequel, The English Mail-Coach (1849), as well as extensive appendices.

About the authors

Thomas De Quincey's profile page

Joel Faflak is professor of English and Theory at Western University, where he was also the Inaugural Director of the School for Advanced Studies in the Arts and Humanities.

Joel Faflak's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Joel Faflak’s new edition of Confessions of an English Opium-Eater finally does justice to a work too often celebrated for its eccentricity rather than importance. Immersing this strange memoir fully in the historical milieu that produced it, Faflak proves De Quincey to be a keen critic of culture as well as an intrepid explorer of the mind. The Introduction sketches De Quincey’s life, work, and significance with sagacity and wit. But the chief glory of this edition is its unflinching discussion of the history of opium as anodyne. Marshalling a wide array of primary material, Faflak reveals how eating opium—and writing about it—can be an activity rife with cultural implications and philosophical possibilities. De Quincey’s Confessions and related writings come alive for today’s readers in this edition.” — Paul Youngquist, Pennsylvania State University

“This is by far the best paperback edition of De Quincey’s Confessions ever to be published. Joel Faflak’s comprehensive introduction demonstrates both why De Quincey is fascinatingly of our own moment, and how he speaks to the complex interplay between the literary avant-garde and imperialist geopolitics during the early nineteenth century. The text is thoroughly annotated and its abundant allusions explained. Especially useful are the appendices that locate the Confessions in literary, social, and political history, illuminating the role played by the opium trade in Britain’s colonial mission, as well as how opium use was understood in the medical literature of the time. Faflak’s expert editing gives us a De Quincey who is richer and stranger than ever before.” — Margaret Russett, University of Southern California

Other titles by Joel Faflak