"Confessions of an English Opium-Eater" is an autobiographical narrative by English author Thomas De Quincey. First published in The London Magazine in two parts in 1821, then as a book, with an appendix, in 1822.
De Quincey’s rather majestic, classically learned and singular style inspires every page of his writing. His "Confessions of an English Opium-Eater" guarantees him a place in this series as a writer whose life and writing were equally expressive of an unquenchable originality of thought and behaviour. The highly poetic and imaginative prose of the Confessions makes it one of the enduring stylistic masterpieces of English literature.
The avowed purpose of the first version of "Confessions of an English Opium-Eater" was to warn the reader of the dangers of opium, and it combined the interest of a journalistic exposé of a social evil, told from an addict’s point of view, with a somewhat contradictory and seductive picture of the subjective pleasures of drug addiction. The book begins with an autobiographical account of the author’s addiction. It then describes in effective detail the euphoric and highly symbolic reveries that he experienced under the drug’s influence and recounts the horrible nightmares that continued use of the drug eventually produced.
Athough De Quincey ends his narrative at a point at which he is drug-free, he remained an opium addict for the rest of his life. In 1856 he rewrote "Confessions of an English Opium-Eater" and added descriptions of opium-inspired dreams.