The Gift of Drugs: Oriental Geographies and Decolonizing Space in Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium-Eater
Keywords:De Quincey, Confessions, space, arabesque, imperial, opium
AbstractThis article argues that Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium-Eater subverts the colonial representation of foreign places by providing a counter geographical narrative of English imperialism. De Quincey’s subversion of colonial geographic and cultural superiority is made possible through the practice of opium-eating. Not only does the consumption of opium open up other dimensions and interpretations of non-English places that remain decentralized and inferior in colonial narratives, but it also helps to reshape the conventional configurations of the relationship between European selfhood and spatial otherness. In this regard, De Quincey’s employment of arabesque characteristics, which are essentially imaginative, non-referential and relational elements, frustrates the colonial potential and desire of mapping national spaces, here London, as a pivotal site of supremacist fantasy. In Confessions, all spaces turn abstract and are decentralized through the power of opium dreams in which arabesque geographies frustrate the dichotomous categorizations of spaces and selves as self/other or superior/inferior.
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