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Autobiographical Sketches


Autobiographical Sketches


“The machinery for dreaming planted in the human brain was not planted for nothing. That faculty, in alliance with the mystery of darkness, is the magnificent apparatus which forces the infinite into the chambers of a human brain, and throws dark reflections from eternities below all life upon the mirrors of the sleeping mind…”

Thomas De Quincey himself had strong views on the shortcomings of conventional biography.

He believed it was “wearisome and useless” when merely “chronologically arranged,” as a slavish narrative of events.

This merely produced “‘the hackneyed roll-call’ of a man’s life.” Instead, the essence of any life was its duality— its exterior and interior existences.

He created his own mythos through his Autobiographical Sketches, an engrossing collection of autobiographical vignettes by Thomas De Quincey, whose 1821 account of his opium addiction garnered him enormous fame. His sickly childhood, education, wanderings around Britain, lifelong struggle with debt, and subsequent writing career are all recollected in De Quincey’s elegant prose.

THOMAS De QUINCEY (1785 –1859) was an English essayist. His account of his opiated experiences has left an indelible print on the literature of addiction. Chiefly remembered today for his Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821); the De Quincey oeuvre includes literary criticism, poetry, and a large selection of reviews, translations and journalism. His private correspondence and diary has also been published, along with On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth (1823) Walladmor (1825) On Murder Considered as one of the Fine Arts (1827) Klosterheim, or the Masque (1832) Lake Reminiscences (1834–40) Revolt of the Tartars (1837) The Logic of the Political Economy (1844) Suspiria de Profundis (1845) The English Mail-Coach (1849) and Autobiographical Sketches (1853)

 ‘I wonder if I would have existed without De Quincey?’
-Jorge Luis Borges


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