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By Marcus Boon

From the antiquity of Homer to yesterday's bare Lunch, writers have came across thought, and readers have misplaced themselves, in an international of the mind's eye tinged and routinely reworked by means of medications. The age-old organization of literature and medication gets its first accomplished therapy during this far-reaching paintings. Drawing on historical past, technology, biography, literary research, and ethnography, Marcus Boon exhibits that the idea that of substances is essentially interdisciplinary, and divulges how assorted units of connections among disciplines configure every one drug's distinct history.

In chapters on narcotics, anesthetics, hashish, stimulants, and psychedelics, Boon strains the historical past of the connection among writers and particular medicines, and among those medicines and literary and philosophical traditions. just about the standard suspects from De Quincey to Freud to Irvine Welsh and with revelations approximately others equivalent to Milton, Voltaire, Thoreau, and Sartre, the line of extra offers a singular and persuasive characterization of the "effects" of every category of drug - linking narcotic habit to Gnostic spirituality, stimulant use to writing machines, anesthesia to transcendental philosophy, and psychedelics to the matter of the imaginary itself. making a enormous community of texts, personalities, and chemical substances, the e-book finds the ways that minute shifts between those components have led to "drugs" and "literature" as we conceive of them at the present time.

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When he read the proofs of his novel The Bride of Lammermoor (1819), he claimed that he did not recognize a single character, incident, or conversation found in the book. ” Burroughs wears his aphasia like a badge of pride, an antidote to pedantic aestheticism. But for the Romantics, this experience was bewildering. At the very moment that the Romantics began to focus on the self as creative source, they experienced, whether through narcotics or other means, their own alienation from the texts they wrote.

Although such talk is usually labeled “science fiction” in the absence of any serious proposals for how to construct a new body, the use of drugs can be seen precisely as achieving this transformation through N A R C O T I C S A N D L I T E R AT U R E 29 chemical means. Narcotics, viewed this way, belong to what Michel Foucault calls the technologies of the self. Novalis said some extraordinary words on this topic. Playing with Schelling’s Naturphilosophie, he observed that “with sensibility and its organs, the nerves brought sickness into nature.

61 After 1800, Coleridge took opium until his death in 1834. For a number of years, he was convinced that opium acted medicinally on him, despite protestations from his wife and friends. Wordsworth, who had apparently made no comment beforehand, confronted Coleridge on the grim trip to Scotland that they made together in 1804, to no avail. The same year, Coleridge traveled to the Mediterranean, at least in part in a failed attempt to break free of his opium habit. At times during the following decades Coleridge’s intake of laudanum was as high as two pints a day, according to Robert Southey.

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