Opium Smoking and the Oriental Infection of British Identity

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This chapter is from the book Beyond the Pleasure Dome: Writing and Addiction from the Romantics. This volume of essays addresses a fascinating topic in literary and cultural studies - the relation of literature and addiction. Thirty-one contributors, from Europe, Israel and North America, treat the nature of addiction and its connections with fictionalizing and writing. The excessive appetities inspected here range from alcohol, drugs and food to love, sex and gambling. The concept of addiction is also analysed from the perspectives of law, cinema, gender, medicine and religion. Among the authors whose life and works are discussed here include those whose addictions are legendary (Malcolm Lowry, Edgar Allen Poe, Thomas De Quincey, Sinclair Lewis, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac) and those who may not immediately be recognized as addicts (Marguerite Duras, Oliver Goldsmith, James Joyce, William Golding, Steven Spielberg).

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