Confessions of an English Opium Eater

The 1856 revision

In the early 1850s, De Quincey prepared the first collected edition of his works for publisher James Hogg. For that edition, he undertook a large-scale revision of the Confessions, more than doubling the work's length. Most notably, he expanded the opening section on his personal background, until it consumed more than two-thirds of the whole. Yet he gave the book "a much weaker beginning" and detracted from the impact of the original with digressions and inconsistencies; "the verdict of most critics is that the earlier version is artistically superior."[8]

"De Quincey undoubtedly spoiled his masterpiece by revising it...anyone who compares the two will prefer the unflagging vigour and tension of the original version to the tired prosiness of much of the revised one."[9]

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