The first known English opium-addict writer was Thomas Shadwell, a 17th century playwright, but it was never recorded in his writings. According to Alethea Hayter, author of Opium and the Romantic Imagination, it wasn't until the British writer Thomas De Quincey theorized the effects of opium on the imagination that many other British poets and writers began experimenting with it. De Quincey believed that opium, especially the dreams that resulted from its use, attributed to...
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...e wounds that will never heal... bringest an assuaging balm; eloquent opium! that with thy potent rhetoric stealest away the purposes of wrath... thou hast the keys of Paradise, oh, just, subtle, and mighty opium! (49).
Despite all the good things De Quincey has said about opium, he admits that this euphoric state only existed when he ate opium on Tuesday of Saturday. When he begins taking opium every day is when he begins to describe the devastating effects. De Quincey developed an opium-addiction, to which I've never denied. What I am impressed with, however, is the way he wrote and expressed his imagination at the beginning of his experimentation with the drug, and I think it had a good impact on his style of writing, and therefore, made Confessions of an English Opium-Eater that much more unique than it would have been if a doctor would have written it.
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