Opium Eater

Opium Eater : Life of Thomas De Quincey

3.81 (16 ratings by Goodreads)
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Product details

  • Paperback | 446 pages
  • 130 x 192 x 22mm | 199.58g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford Paperbacks
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • halftones
  • 0192814362
  • 9780192814364

Review Text

Fine work: the careful, unpretentious account of a man Lindop justly calls "lovable and oddly heroic." The last major biographies of De Quincey (17851859), by Edward Sackville-West and Horace Eaton, both appeared in 1936, and in the meantime a lot of new material has been unearthed, amply justifying Lindop's effort. But that 45-year-long silence tells us something about De Quincey's reputation: such neglect by the myriad toilers in the lit-crit industry can only mean that De Quincey has been damned as irrelevant. And not without reason. De Qulncey's lifelong addiction to opium prevented his completing anything on a large scale except his Confessions. Everything else was either potboilers (one of which, his novel Klosterheim, wasn't all that bad) or journalistic pieces, some of which - such as "On Murder, Considered as One of the Fine Arts" - are quasi-immortal. But, despite his dreadful - and largely self-induced - poverty, De Qulncey held dullish Tory views. He has so little to say about the great issues of his turbulent age that it's hard to recognize in him a contemporary of Cobbett, J. S. Mill, Carlyle, or even Dickens. And De Quincey's prose style - rich, elaborate, effortlessly fluent, but liable to dissolve in Romantic lushness - goes against the modern grain. Still, if he is not, as Lindop admits, "a writer of the very first rank," De Quincey belongs somewhere near it; and his unbelievably harried existence succeeds, in Lindop's retelling, as a sort of painfully touching shaggy-dog story. Lindop's thorough but unobtrusive scholarship makes this the standard life of De Quincey; as such, it ought to provide a generation of students of English literature, serious or casual, with a solid resource. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

16 ratings
3.81 out of 5 stars
5 25% (4)
4 38% (6)
3 31% (5)
2 6% (1)
1 0% (0)
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