Saturday, April 23, 2016

Never out of character …

… Guilty Thing by Frances Wilson review – a superb biography of Thomas De Quincey | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

De Quincey made opium sublime and, in a word, romanticised it. His writing combined the monumental introspection of Wordsworth, still new, with the drug-doom of Coleridge, and stirred them together with a large dash of his own charm. The result made opiates seem intrinsically bound up with what he elsewhere calls “secret haunts of feeling”; “that inner world, that world of secret self-consciousness, in which each of us lives a second life.” It is thanks to De Quincey that John Updike could refer casually to “the writer in his opium den”, by which he means any sensitive modern writer in creative privacy: opium has become a metaphor, a quintessence of subjectivity itself

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