Opium was first used in a surprising venue -- religious ceremonies -- but soon passed into common usage as a cure for various ailments during Victorian times; a resonant symbol of the romantic, dissolute East; and an inducer of fever dreams and worse in those who failed to resist its lure. This beautifully designed book captures the heady essence ...
Opium was first used in a surprising venue -- religious ceremonies -- but soon passed into common usage as a cure for various ailments during Victorian times; a resonant symbol of the romantic, dissolute East; and an inducer of fever dreams and worse in those who failed to resist its lure. This beautifully designed book captures the heady essence of opium history and culture. Drawing on memoirs, science, and travel books, "Opium" traces the changing image of the drug through artifacts and apparatus of its use; illustrations of opium dens in Hong Kong, New York, San Francisco, Toulon, and Canton; portraits of drug-taking writers, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Theophile Gautier, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, and Graham Greene; lurid covers of 19th-century illustrated newspapers and 20th-century pulp-fiction drug titles; and stills from drug-related films that resonate with opium's insidious, enduring allure.
Publishers Weekly, 1999-08-02 A smoothly guided tour through the history of this often glamorized narcotic, Hodgson's slim volume is handsomely assembled and illustrated with woodcuts, sketches and photographs. It recounts how 19th- and 20th-century writers (among them Baudelaire, Jean Cocteau and Graham Greene) "elevated opium...to the status of a muse"; demonstrates "the box-office draw of drugs" in the era of silent film; describes the "opium clippers," sleek Victorian ships designed to transport the drug from India to China; and surveys the multifarious literature of opium-smoking, from firsthand reports of Hong Kong squalor to prurient pulp fiction. Opium was a popular ingredient in all sorts of Victorian and turn-of-the-century medicines. But since most North America opium smokers were Chinese immigrants, the drug provided an occasion for moral panic and anti-immigrant feeling. Far less ambitious and less didactic than Martin Booth's 1998 Opium: A History, Hodgson's volume excels in its plethora of quotes from Dickens, Sax Rohmer and Arthur Symons (represented by a remarkable sonnet), pictures from obscure yet revealing French painters, Chinese photographers and documentation of crusaders and journalists such as P.B. Doesticks, who visited an opium den in New York City's Chinatown and found "a cube of smoke the size of the apartment, about the consistence [sic] of blancmange." (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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