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    The "Spleen" and "Ideal" of opium: Baudelaire and Thomas de Quincey

    Catani, Damian (2013) The "Spleen" and "Ideal" of opium: Baudelaire and Thomas de Quincey. Dix-Neuf 17 (3), pp. 237-250. ISSN 1478-7318.

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    De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821), translated and adapted by Baudelaire as Un Mangeur d’Opium in Les Paradis artificiels (1860), presciently anticipated two antithetical types of discourse on drugs: the first, a Romantic, subversive literary discourse that valorizes drugs as a creative muse or ‘idéal’; the second, a normative medical discourse that stigmatizes drugs as addictive (‘spleen’). This article argues that, despite their ostensibly divergent positions, both these discourses are in fact undermined by the same cultural prejudice: namely, an artistic elite should be afforded special dispensation for drug-taking on the grounds of its inherent and undisputed genius. However, an alternative, more nuanced, position on drugs is provided by Baudelaire, whose assimilation of both medical and literary discourses in the 1840s paved the way for his pragmatic realignment of genius with childhood rather than madness, a realignment that not only partially anticipates Freud, but also allows for a more ethically responsible rehabilitation of opium use.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Baudelaire, De Quincey, Freud, Leonardo da Vinci, opium, Romanticism, addiction, creativity, genius, childhood, madness
    School: School of Arts > Cultures and Languages (to 2020)
    Research Centres and Institutes: Aesthetics of Kinship and Community, Birkbeck Research in (BRAKC)
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2013 10:24
    Last Modified: 07 Dec 2016 15:15


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