Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 23 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter places Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium-Eater alongside Humphry Davy’s nitrous oxide experiments in order to reveal both the medicalization of De Quincey’s account and the recreational aspects of Davy’s. In the context of other drug experiences in the period, De Quincey’s claims to be offering new medical research seem less hyperbolic than has been assumed. Conversely, Davy’s account of the euphoria produced by nitrous oxide can be read within the discourse of the sublime; his connection with literary figures such as Wordsworth and Coleridge, and his own ventures into Romantic poetry, underline this link. The similarities between De Quincey’s and Davy’s accounts demonstrate how contemporary understanding of drug-taking needs to be rethought in its historical context.

Keywords: drugs, opium, laudanum, sublime, confession, medicine

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.