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Thomas de Quincey (1785-1859) was born in Manchester, England. His most well-known book is The Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. De Quincey's childhood was, to say the least, troubled. He ran away from grammar school, and later dropped out of Oxford. He became an opium addict and lost his money. At the age of 34, he started writing articles for Blackwood's Magazine and instantly won praise from the editors. He started writing, but did not complete, a book titled Suspiria de Profundis. He died in Edinburgh at the age of 74.

A good list of books by de Quincey can be found at http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/quincey.htm:

CONFESSIONS OF AN ENGLISH OPIUM EATER, 1822
ON THE KNOCKING AT THE GATE IN MACBETH, 1823
WALLADMOR, 1825
MURDER CONSIDERED AS ONE OF THE FINE ARTS, 1827
KLOSTERHEIM, OR THE MASQUE, 1832
LAKE REMINISCENES, 1834-40
THE LOGIC OF THE POLITICAL ECONOMY, 1944
SUSPIRIA DE PROFUNDIS, 1845
THE ENGLISH MAIL COACH, 1849
AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES, 1853
SELECTIONS GRAVE AND GAY, FROM THE WRITINGS, PUBLISHED AND UNPUBLISHED, BY THOMAS DE QUINCEY, 1853-1860 (14 vols.)
COLLECTED WRITINGS, 1889
UNCOLLECTED WRITINGS, 1890
THE POSTHUMOUS WORKS, 1891-93
MEMORIALS, 1891
LITERARY CRITICISM, 1909
THE DIARY, 1928
SELECTED WRITINGS, 1937
RECOLLECTIONS OF THE LAKE POEST, 1948 (written 1830-40)
NEW ESSAYS, 1966


De Quincey's opium addiction drives much of his work. For him, opium smoking is not a crime. As a matter of fact, in Confessions he speaks about the pleasures of opium in a chapter mnemonically titled 'The Pleasures of Opium'.

"Here was a panacea, a pharmakon nepenthes, for all human woes; here was the secret of happiness, about which philosophers had disputed for so many ages, at once discovered; happiness might now be bought for a penny, and carried in the waistcoat pocket; portable ecstasies might be had corked up in a pint bottle; and peace of mind could be sent down in gallons by the mail-coach" (http://users.lycaeum.org/~sputnik/Ludlow/Texts/Opium/pleasure.html)

What impresses me most about De Quincey's writing is his soulfulness -- that quality that can only be acquired by someone who has seen the darker side of life. It is something I try to emulate while knowing that I obviously cannot. As the Westminster Review wrote, De Quincey's writings as ‘filled with passages of a power and beauty which have never been surpassed by any other prose writer of the age.’ De Quincey's writing has influenced other major writers such as Poe and Baudelaire.

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