Opium and Addiction in a Cross-Cultural Context: De Quincey’s ‘Confessions’ (1821) and the Chinese novel, Romantic Illusions of the Fool of Yangzhou (Fengyue meng) (c. 1848)

Kitson, Peter (2021) Opium and Addiction in a Cross-Cultural Context: De Quincey’s ‘Confessions’ (1821) and the Chinese novel, Romantic Illusions of the Fool of Yangzhou (Fengyue meng) (c. 1848). Romanticism, 27 (3). pp. 309-321. ISSN 1354-991X

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Abstract

This essay examines De Quincey’s representation of opium ‘addiction’ in the cross-cultural context of Britain and China in the light of recent revisionist medical discussions of addiction and dependence, and revisionist historical writing about opium use in nineteenth-century China. De Quincey’s representation of the opium user is compared to that of China’s first ‘city novel’, Courtesans and Opium: Romantic Illusions of the Fool of Yangzhou believed to have been written in 1848 (trans 2009). In this complex fiction, opium smoking is presented as a largely pleasurable and common pastime which has the potential for danger if abused by the unwary. It is not connected with dreams and nightmares, or figured as a stimulus of, or analogy for, the creative imagination. It offers a fascinating view of the leisure world of nineteenth-century China, where recreational opium smoking is common and not problematic when undertaken moderately.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: de quincey opium china
Faculty \ School:
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 08 Jul 2021 00:06
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2021 00:40
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/80430
DOI: 10.3366/rom.2021.0524

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