Critics’ 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

Posted on November 2, 2015