Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, Thomas De Quincey's best-known work, is an account of his early life and opium addiction, in prose that is by turns witty, conversational, and nightmarish.
The Confessions involve the listener in De Quincey's childhood and schooling, describing in detail his flight at age 16 from Manchester Grammar School, his wanderings in North Wales and London, and his experiences with opium, which began while he was a student at Oxford and developed into a lifelong dependency.
Said critic Grevel Lindop, "The drug that brings an 'assuaging balm' to the wounded heart extracts a price, alienating the hero from humanity and offering only intangible, though exalted, compensations."
Said De Quincey himself, when looking for relief from excruciating pain, "By accident I met a college acquaintance who recommended opium. Opium! Dread agent of unimaginable pleasure and pain! I had heard of it as I had of manna or of ambrosia, but no further: how unmeaning a sound it was at that time!"
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