Opium: A Portrait of the Heavenly Demon

Barbara Hodgson, Author Chronicle Books $22.95 (160p) ISBN 978-0-8118-2411-8
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.)
Reviewed on: 06/28/1999
Release date: 07/01/1999
Show other formats
FORMATS
Hardcover - 152 pages - 978-0-285-63627-9
Paperback - 160 pages - 978-1-55365-058-4
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.