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Pleasures and Pains, Opium and the Orient in 19th-Century British Culture

Milligan, Barry

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ISBN 10: 0813915716 / ISBN 13: 9780813915715
Edité par University Press of Virginia, 1995
Etat : Fine Couverture rigide
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Explores the cultural alliance of opium and the East to 19th Century England. Four b&w illustrations. Notes. Works Cited. Index. xii, 156 pp. Fine Hardcover in full purple cloth w/ Fine dj. N° de réf. du libraire 1001

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Détails bibliographiques

Titre : Pleasures and Pains, Opium and the Orient in...

Éditeur : University Press of Virginia

Date d'édition : 1995

Reliure : Hardcover

Etat du livre :Fine

Etat de la jaquette : Fine

Edition : 1st Edition

A propos de ce titre

Synopsis :

Throughout the 19th century, while Britons were taking their culture to the East, they were also bringing back exotic commodities and ideas, inviting the Orient to enter English terrain, bodies and consciousness. This mixing is both mediated and mirrored by opium, an Oriental commodity that enters and alters the English body and mindset, thus confusing the direction of Anglo-Oriental power dynamics. As Barry Milligan demonstrates in "Pleasures and Pains", this confusion occasions both anxiety and enjoyment in the literature of the century. Coleridge portrays Oriental commodities as an infection, but the consequent erosion of national, racial, gender and individual identity proves liberating as well as threatening. For Thomas De Quincy, opium becomes the axis of a conflict between two paradigms of national identity, suggesting that the Orient is both other and origin. In Wilkie Collins's "The Moonstone", opium is a crucial factor in the power that putatively Oriental cultural elements have to seduce and dominate English consciousness and to insidiously intertwine themselves with English culture. The final two chapters of "Pleasures and Pains" consider the ambivalent English responses to the influx of Oriental immigrants in the 1860s, when popular journalists and fiction writers began to portray London's East End opium dens as miniature Orients within the heart of the British Empire. Incorporating elements of literary criticism, cultural studies and social history, "Pleasures and Pains" examines the complicated dynamics of empire as well as the development of still prevalent perceptions of "drugs" as alien invaders responsible for the decay of national character.


"This well-written and well-researched book shows that opium consumption as depicted in nineteenth-century English literature mirrors changing attitudes toward the Orient, the 'other' that both attracts and repels."

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