London: Printed for Taylor and Hessey, 1822. Item #04209
"Oh! Just, Subtle, And Mighty Opium!"
A Fine and Elaborate Early Twentieth Century Binding by Bayntun of Bath
[DE QUINCEY, Thomas]. BAYNTUN, binder. Confessions of an English Opium Eater. London: Printed for Taylor and Hessey, 1822.
First edition in book form. Large twelvemo (6 7/8 x 4 inches; 176 x 101 mm). vi, 206 pp. including half-title. Leaf E 12 (pp. 95/96) expertly and almost invisibly extended at fore-margin, not affecting text.
Bound c. 1920 by "Bayntun. Binder. Bath. Eng." (stamp-signed in gilt on front turn-in). Full crimson crushed Levant morocco, covers with double gilt ruled borders enclosing an elaborate floral design in gilt and also lettered in gilt. Spine with five raised bands decoratively tooled and lettered in gilt in compartments, decorative gilt board-edges and wide turn-ins, red watered silk liners and end-leaves, top edge gilt, others uncut. A fine and attractive example.
Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821) is the classic autobiographical narrative written by Thomas De Quincey (1785-1859) concerning his laudanum (tincture of opium) addiction and its effect on his life. The Confessions was "the first major work De Quincey published and the one which won him fame almost overnight..."
First published anonymously in September and October 1821 in the London Magazine, the Confessions was released in book form in 1822, and again in 1856, in an edition revised by De Quincey.
“De Quincey’s study of his own opium addiction and its psychological effects traces how childhood and youthful experiences are transformed, under the influence of opium, into symbolical and revealing dreams. The central experience for subsequent dream-formations was his childhood loss of his sister, duplicated by the disappearance of the 15-year-old prostitute Ann, who befriended him during his months of homeless near-starvation in London. The euphoric reveries of the early stages of his addiction and the appalling nightmares of the later stages are described in sonorous and haunting prose, and the work, first appearing in the London Magazine in 1821, conferred instant literary fame on De Quincey, whose first book it was. In 1856 he greatly extended the Confessions for a collected edition of his works, but thereby blunted its effect” (The Oxford Companion to English Literature).
“This is the first edition of the first part of the book; the complete text first appeared in Boston in 1850 and in London in 1856” (Tinker).
Ashley Library II, p. 37. Sterling 229. Tinker 817.