Confessions of an English Opium Eater by De Quincey, T
Publisher: Penguin 2003
Confessions is a remarkable account of the pleasures and pains of worshipping at the ‘Church of Opium’. Thomas De Quincey consumed large daily quantities of laudanum (at the time a legal painkiller), and this autobiography of addiction hauntingly describes his surreal visions and hallucinatory nocturnal wanderings though London, along with the nightmares, despair and paranoia to which he became prey. The result is a work in which the effects of drugs and the nature of dreams, memory and imagination are seamlessly interwoven. Confessions forged a link between artistic self-expression and addiction, paving the way for later generations of literary drug-users from Baudelaire to Burroughs, and anticipating psychoanalysis with its insights into the subconscious.