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56e Congrès de la SAES: Confluence(s)

Thomas De Quincey between Romantics and Victorians

Thomas De Quincey entre romantiques et victoriens
Céline Lochot


S’affirmant avant tout comme un érudit, De Quincey exprime à la fois le besoin de trouver un alter ego et la peur de perdre sa propre identité en tant qu’auteur. Nostalgique et peu sûr de sa propre valeur et de son statut, il assiste à l’émergence de la modernité victorienne comme un espace où se définir et se perdre à la fois. Sa créativité s’épanouit finalement quand il réussit à accepter cette incertitude généralisée.

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1A confluence is an ambiguous place. It can be the place where we become richer from meeting otherness, with different or new ideas and opinions. It can also be the place where we lose our certainties and things lose their edge, metaphorically and literally: as water in water, impressions and concepts merge and become harder to distinguish, harder to know and harder to understand. When we are under the influence of others, we risk losing ourselves, like a small tributary getting lost inside a larger river.

2De Quincey’s life spans across Romantic and Victorian times, and he started writing in the heart of their confluence: in the early 1820s. Because of the general difficulty of drawing clear conceptual and ideological lines, self-definition was one of the major concerns of the time, both as individuals and as members of society; hence such titles as The Spirit of the Age, used by both William Hazlitt (1825) and John Stuart Mill (1831), or Signs of the Time by Thomas Carlyle (1829); as well as from the fashion for autobiography throughout the nineteenth century, including De Quincey’s first and most famous text, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821).

3Thomas De Quincey has long been defined as a minor Lakist: a small tributary Romantic, who owed everything to Wordsworth. However, his place in the Romantic canon has been under close scrutiny for the last thirty years. Some call him, with Josephine McDonagh, a ‘defining voice of Victorian consciousness’ (11). But the more recognition he gets, the harder it seems to define his writings. As Gerald Maa aptly sums up: ‘De Quincey is a late Romantic publishing with Victorian means and concerns, De Quincey is a Romantic writing gothic novels, De Quincey is the untimely being of Modernism’ (125). His works are in the indefinite area that we may call a confluence, or the in-between—a place that has no name because we can’t tell where it starts and where it ends: it cannot be limited, so it cannot be defined. The confluence is thus, literally, a utopia: a place which is nowhere. It is also a physical conundrum, the space where two separate entities are allowed to stand at the same time.

4So much uncertainty could not but make De Quincey uncomfortable. He loved paradoxes, but he may have loved subtle distinctions even more. He was glad to point out, for instance, that two beings cannot stand in the same place:

Or, if he had asked a party, as I once learnedly and facetiously observed to him—the several members of it must have stood in the relation to each other (not sate in any relation whatever) of succession, as the metaphysicians have it, and not of coexistence; in the relation of the parts of time, and not of the parts of space. (Confessions of an Opium-Eater, II C1 23/C2 200)

5I’m interested here in De Quincey’s mixed feelings about influence and confluence. His evocation of public spaces, especially in his autobiographical writing, sounds like a metaphor of the general loss of bearings within the confluence. Similarly, his metaphorical encounters with other authors constantly threaten him with what Bloom identified as the ‘anxiety of influence’: losing his own identity along with his authority. In the end, facing the confluence may be both an overwhelming experience and a source of creativity.

Confusing Meeting Places

6Meeting places tend to be confusing. The image of the labyrinth recurs throughout De Quincey’s writings: by no means systematically negative (if you cannot find your way out, at least you will be safe from your enemies who won’t find their way in, or to you), it is deeply ambivalent and provides one of the keys to interpret De Quincey’s nightmares. The streets of London transform into ‘mighty labyrinths’:

I came suddenly upon such knotty problems of alleys, such enigmatical entries, and such sphynx’s riddles of streets without thoroughfares, as must, I conceive, baffle the audacity of porters, and confound the intellect of hackney-coachmen. (Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, II C1 50)

7Even the public roads, so dear to Wordsworth (The Prelude, XII 145), lead De Quincey nowhere: they are merely the prison of his restlessness, ‘the pains of wandering’, ‘some instinct of migration, sorrowful but irresistible’ (Confessions, II C1 58, C2 186). His aimless wanderings contrast with Wordsworth’s walking, that allowed the poet to ‘situate and stabilise not just things, but his own being’ (Gaillet 14).

8Thus it is not surprising that some people (like his friend Ann, or the druggist) should vanish into thin air. The purpose of the meeting place is defeated, as some meetings can never take place: ‘perhaps, within a few feet of each other—a barrier no wider in a London street, often amounting in the end to a separation for eternity!’ (II 36). Other people, on the contrary, seem to be endowed with ubiquity. Such is the case with John Stewart, nicknamed Walking Stewart: ‘I stopped nowhere, and walked fast: yet so it was that in Tottenham-court-road I was not overtaken by (that was comprehensible), but overtook, Walking Stewart. Certainly, as the above writer alleges, there must have been three Walking Stewarts in London’ (‘Notes from the Pocket book of a Late opium-Eater: Walking Stewart’, III 135).

9A meeting place is also a place where one is disturbingly exposed to the gaze of others, even though it should be an admiring gaze, for instance during a dinner organised by one’s publishers: ‘As an invalid, or, as the hero of the day, I was planted inexorably, without retreat, in the place of honour by the fireside’. (‘Sketches of Life and Manners’, XI 276). Admiration and aggression are painfully confluent during that dinner, as De Quincey has to ‘stand formal introduction’ to several strangers and listen to the vehemently anti-English speech of a Scotsman.

10However, the public space in which De Quincey stands most exposed to the gaze of strangers is one of his own choosing: the space of publication. As in other public spaces, the published author is uncomfortably exposed to the public gaze of the emerging mass readership, and risks losing himself in the thoughts of his great predecessors while trying to appropriate them.

The Anxiety of Influence

  • 1 It would be more accurate to call him a polymath in the Humanities: De Quincey is no scientist, tho (...)

11Literature is another meeting place for authors from all times and places can meet. In fact, few works have so many different authors meet as De Quincey’s. He was famous for his extensive knowledge, and Oliver Elton even called him ‘the Renaissance type of polyhistor, or man of universal information’ (II 313).1 His works gather thousands of quotes from and allusions to hundreds of authors from all times and all literary disciplines, and in several languages. This he persistently presents as a defining part of his identity: he is a scholar above all. Faced with the difficult challenge of self-definition within a confluence, De Quincey thus embraced the confluence itself; and indeed ‘there may be nothing more intimate in a book than its quotes’ (Compagnon 321, my translation).

12And yet, De Quincey is ambivalent about quotes. Quotes are welcome when they echo our own thoughts: they meet our quest for an alter ego. The search for a confluence is about recognition: here is ‘one of us’. But if we quote another author to express what we have failed to express ourselves, then the same quote becomes the symptom of mental inadequacy, or even a disease, almost a mania:

. . . . that paralytic ‘mouth-diarrhoea’ (to borrow a phrase of Coleridge’s) . . .  To have the verbal memory infested with tags of verse and ‘cues’ of rhyme is in itself an infirmity as vulgar and as morbid as the stable boy’s habit of whistling slang airs upon the mere mechanical excitement of a bar or two whistled by some other blockhead in some other stable. . . .  a quotation that repeats one’s own sentiment, but in a varied form, has the grace which belongs to the idem in alio, the same radical idea expressed with a difference—similarity in dissimilarity; but to throw one’s own thoughts, matter and form, through alien organs so absolutely as to make another man one’s interpreter for evil or good, is either to confess . . .  laxity or . . .  indifference. (‘Final Memorials of Charles Lamb’, XVI 381-382)

13How ‘alien’ can another’s thought be, even as we feel close enough to appropriate it? We absorb it as we would medicine, or poison. On the one hand, foreign influence is fruitful, like engrafting for trees. Thus De Quincey recommends the discovery of German literature, and more particularly Schiller and Jean Paul Richter, arguing that without a foreign contribution, thought is bound to degenerate:

I will engraft such German youth and vigour on thy English trunk, that henceforwards thou shalt bear excellent fruit. I suppose, F., you know that the Golden Pippin is now almost, if not quite, extinct in England: and why? Clearly from want of some exotic, but congenial, inoculation. So it is with literatures of whatsoever land; unless crossed by some other of different breed, they all tend to superannuation. (‘Jean Paul Frederick Richter’, III 18)

14On the other hand, the very metaphor of ‘inoculation’ is used to express the destructive, even lethal potential outcome of the meeting: otherness is then assimilated to a poison, or a disease, that might infect our most intimate thoughts. De Quincey thus describes his worst nightmare as ‘the horrid inoculation upon each other of incompatible natures’, leading to horror and madness: ‘The dreamer finds housed within himself—occupying, as it were, some separate chamber in his brain—holding, perhaps, from that station a secret and detestable commerce with his own heart—some horrid alien nature’ (‘The English Mail-Coach’, XVI 422).

15In thought as in rivers, a happy confluence implies some solid common ground. It is worth noticing that for De Quincey the height of exoticism is Germany. What contemporary British authors would call exotic, and describe with delight, was Asia: but such otherness, for De Quincey, is alienating, and feeds the opium nightmares that end his Confessions. What appeals to De Quincey in German literature is not the foreign touch after all, but only the vitality of youth: ‘Why, evidently we should cultivate an intercourse with that literature of Europe which has most of a juvenile constitution’ (‘Jean Paul Frederick Richter’, III 18). Conversely, what seems to horrify him in Asia is the sheer antiquity of alien traditions. He welcomes the novelty of original thought come to challenge established ideas. And it is no coincidence that he writes this in 1821 and 1823, when he is himself a new author and a challenger of Wordsworth and Coleridge; and at the same time, their worthy heir and successor.

16De Quincey keeps quoting Wordsworth in nearly all his texts. He has perfectly appropriated the poet’s thoughts because they have the same sensitivity: his elder’s experience, as he reads it, becomes his own. Sometimes he claims that he cannot tell where the poet’s words end and where his own begin: ‘In this place I derive my feeling partly from a lovely sketch of the appearance, in verse, by Mr Wordsworth; partly from my own experience of the case; and not having the poems here, I know not how to proportion my acknowledgements’ (Suspiria de Profundis, XV [note] 162).

17In his autobiographical texts, De Quincey’s minor voice becomes the main one, capable of absorbing others. Thus, a woman’s knowledge of the bore conflated with his total ignorance of the phenomenon conflates into ‘our united ignorance’ (Confessions, II C2 165). Even Wordsworth may be absorbed into his own text as mere punctuation: ‘I borrowed [Mr Wordsworth’s image] for one moment in order to point my own sentence’ (Suspiria de Profundis, XV [note] 178).

18Thus, De Quincey enacts and defeats his fears that he might in fact be no more than an echo or a shadow of the poet. Still, the perspective haunts the Confessions. The opium-eater portrays himself as a diseased Wordsworth, not just because he made the wrong choices or felt inadequate, but because the world has moved on since the Lyrical Ballads, and De Quincey was unable to define his own space in the modern world.

The Uncomfortable in-between

19De Quincey looked back into the past to root his identity and his values in the great works of great men that made the grandeur of his country, especially in the glorious days of the Lyrical Ballads and of Waterloo. That time happened to coincide with his own glorious days as a student and a young man of promise, when he was not yet addicted to opium. However, his works show much more than nostalgia. He also embraced Victorian concerns and showed an active interest in his own times, as he reviewed books and plays, and commented on domestic and foreign political events. Yet he never managed to reconcile his past and present: his childhood and adult self, his Romantic and Victorian lives.

  • 2 Except Landor who died in 1864.

20The confluence is a moment of transition and a time of crisis, because the emerging modernity has not yet been identified: nothing can be given a definite name. In De Quincey’s lifetime, even the past did not have a name: the Romantics never knew that they were romantic, because romanticism was not given its name before 1860, after their deaths.2 Everything is in a state of flux, and the present, ‘which only man possesses’, only offers a slender, slippery hold: ‘less capacity for his footing than the slenderest film that ever spider twisted from her womb’ (Suspiria de Profundis, XV 186). The past is just as elusive and defies definition: ‘Even this you must submit to hold in suspense, as a thing conditional and contingent upon what is yet to come—liable to have its provisional character affirmed or reversed’ (Confessions, II C2 170).

21De Quincey had the feeling that he was living on ‘an isthmus’: ‘I considered that I stood on a little isthmus of time, which connected the two great worlds—the past and the future. I stood in equal relation to both; I asked for admittance to one as much as to the other’ (‘To a Young Man whose education has been neglected’, 65). Just as it is impossible to read all books, meet all men, etc., De Quincey felt that it was not possible to hold on to the past and benefit from modernity: he had to choose, and yet he could not.

22In 1845, twenty years after writing both the Confessions and ‘Jean Paul Frederick Richter’, he was still caught in-between past and present, tradition and modernity; viz., between learned scholars, whose classical education he shared, and the emerging mass readership, who did not understand Latin and Greek, and whom De Quincey describes as rebelling against classical culture: ‘I, for my own part, stand on an isthmus, connecting me, at one terminus, with the rebels against Greek, and at the other, with those against whom they are in rebellion’ (‘The Antigone of Sophocles as Represented on the Edinburgh Stage’, XV 313). De Quincey felt acutely this social (r)evolution, which threatened his own cultural status. Humour helps him to express his anxiety: ‘Everything in our day is new. Roads, for instance . . . even more new are readers . . . now become intractably mutinous . . . so obstinately rebellious to the once Papal authority of Greek . . . they are new. Antiquity produced monsters, but none like them’ (312).

23In this text, at any rate, De Quincey successfully achieves a confluence. On the one hand, he sides in self-derision against dusty scholars and ancient traditions: ‘it seems shocking to me, who am steeped to the lips in antique prejudices, that Greek, in unlimited quantities, should not secure a limited privilege of talking nonsense’ (313). On the other hand, he asserts his own authentic expertise on Greek literature, and comforts his role as a guide to the unlearned reader: ‘speaking from a station of knowledge . . . as a companion adapting my services to the wants of those who need them’ (315). His humour provides him with a manifold introduction: an entertaining start to his essay, it is also a way to give his credentials to his readers, in such a way as to introduce them to classical literature in an entertaining way, so as not to lose their interest; and more specifically here, to revive Greek drama, starting with the Antigone of Sophocles, which he then analyses in great detail. Having thus established his authority, De Quincey does not scruple to illustrate his ideas with a few Latin and Greek quotes—which, in spite of his introduction, he does not see fit to translate.

24Eventually, the elusiveness of the fleeting present does not oppose past and future, ancients and moderns, but reconciles them in common human frailty:

You see, therefore, how narrow, how incalculably narrow, is the true and actual present. Of that time which we call present, hardly a hundredth part but belongs either to a past which has fled, or to a future which is still on the wing. It perished, and it is not born. It was, or it is not. Yet even this approximation of the truth is infinitely false. . . . and so by infinite declensions the true and very present, in which only we live and enjoy, will vanish into a mote of a mote, distinguishable only by a heavenly vision. (Suspiria de Profundis XV 186)

25As pessimistic as this may sound, it is actually part of a message of hope: we do not own our past or our present, so that our fate is in God’s hands. Eventually we will all be reconciled to our past and see that it is meaningful. Such hope allows setting nostalgia aside, and finding the energy to be creative and experiment new forms of writing: in confluence, as in chaos, anything is possible.


26Critics have emphasised De Quincey’s nostalgia at the expense of his energy and creativity in part because they have referred him to what they could name: Wordsworth’s influence; in part because the essay as a genre remains difficult, if not impossible to define. In fact, Romantic prose seems to be strangely impervious to criticism and critical categories: ‘Romantic prose has remained largely unfamiliar because of the difficulty of placing it in a generic tradition; its innovations ultimately have brought about its inaccessibility. Writings by De Quincey, Hazlitt, and Wordsworth appear to fall outside the usual critical and generic approaches to Romanticism’ (Cafarelli 8). De Quincey himself apologised for producing what Coleridge had termed ‘magazinish’ literature. Essays and magazines had, and still have in many ways, an ambiguous cultural status. The essay as a genre seems to be the confluence of all other genres, and alone highly suitable to experiment, since it alters when it takes in.

27The famous short paper ‘On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth’ is unusual, thus original, as an interpretation based on the actual performance, and not on Shakespeare’s text alone, as Romantics were prone to do. The ‘Antigone of Sophocles’ is similarly concerned with the actual presence of the actors on stage and the effect created by the size and structure of the theatre.

28Even when his writing can be referred to other authors, De Quincey did not merely turn to the past, he appropriated it and experimented with it. This is how he created the idiosyncratic, lyrical style he called ‘impassioned’ writing. The name and concept are indebted to Wordsworth, who claimed that there is no essential difference between the language of poetry and that of prose. Making the confluence of poetry and prose real was De Quincey’s achievement: he turned prose into poetry, and at times, into music. Walter Pater’s famous saying that ‘all art constantly aspires to the condition of music’ is particularly true about De Quincey, who was very sensitive to the musicality of language. He even calls himself ‘morbidly’ sensitive to the sounds and rhythms of prose. As Calvin Brown shows, when he called one of his texts the Dream-Fugue, the title was not just a metaphor: the structure of the text follows closely that of a musical fugue. For De Quincey, a feeling well expressed should ‘prolong’ and ‘repeat’ itself like a musical theme (‘Final Memorials of Charles Lamb’, XVI 380). Accordingly, he declares that Charles Lamb suffers from a serious handicap in writing and appreciating prose because he is ‘deaf’ to music, viz., unable to enjoy it.

  • 3 See also R. L. Snyder’s article on ‘De Quincey’s Gothic Masque’. 

29As far as his few attempts at fiction are concerned, De Quincey chose the Gothic genre, seeming again to lack in originality and to refer back to his youthful reading. However, De Luca describes the short story ‘The Household Wreck’ as an ironic confluence of romance conventions and gothic narrative which reminds him of Poe: ‘It is not immediately clear whether this travesty of romance conventions is intended as some kind of joke. Whatever the intent, De Quincey appears relentless in disrupting such conventions while evoking and toying with them’. According to him, De Quincey’s modernity and creativity is precisely what hinders us from enjoying the text: ‘The grotesque surface of “The Household Wreck” undoubtedly makes the work unpleasant to read. Yet De Quincey’s range of voice is greater here than in any imaginative work since the Confessions’ (52). It is worth noticing that the Gothic imagery is also actively at work within the Confessions: De Quincey often appears like a Gothic hero, trapped inside his own life, inside his nightmares, and inside his own autobiography, in the same way as he depicts Piranesi trapped inside his own painting (II C1 68 / C2 259).3 The Gothic theme underlying the autobiographical writing is also a symptom of standing in-between genres and periods: glimpsing at the shadowy, at things unsaid or simply unnamed.

  • 4 See Gamer, 7, 16.

30Parodying gothic clichés is the starting point of the two papers ‘On Murder, Considered as one of the Fine Arts’ (the secret manuscript revealed, secret society, dark humour, excess, etc.), but De Quincey also rewrote the conventions of the gothic novel into a provocative and playful essay which ultimately leads to the ‘Postscript’: a much darker text, questioning the legitimacy of art and of the romantic sublime when we can experiment them even in the representation of murder. Piling up parodies of various aesthetic theories (such as Aristotle’s catharsis) distracts us from the fact that the ‘Postscript’ enacts in broad day light a dangerous confluence of the Romantic and the Gothic, already secretly at work within Wordsworth’s and Coleridge’s poems, even at the heart of the Lyrical Ballads (especially The Ancient Mariner) or in the spots of time of The Prelude4. After all, ‘romantic’ was originally a word used for gothic novels.

31De Quincey’s most famous texts have an experimental quality about them, starting with the Confessions which Joel Haefner quotes as the best example of the ‘experiment of self’ typical of the Romantic essay: ‘the subject of inquiry, the raw stuff of the experiment, became the mind of the writer’ and allowed him to ‘meditate and generalise about the human condition’; in De Quincey’s case, an experiment not just in opium, but also in dream and imagination. From one autobiographical text to another, De Quincey creates an anonymous autobiography: ‘Let the reader abstract from me as a person that by accident, or in some partial sense, may have been previously known to himself. Let him read the sketch as belonging to one who wishes to be profoundly anonymous. I offer it not as owing anything to its connection with a particular individual, but as likely to be amusing separately for itself’ (Sketch From Childhood, XVII 70). De Quincey’s largely acknowledged ‘reluctant autobiography’ (Whale) is also a playful denial of the reader’s expectations, disrupting autobiographical conventions. He thus refuses to describe his physical appearance, leaving the reader to imagine a romantic appearance, and asks in the middle of his Confessions, like a mischievous school-boy: ‘why should confess? Why confess at all? . . . paint me, if at all, according to your own fancy’. Later he defines himself with rumours: ‘I am so classed by my neighbours: and, by the courtesy of modern England, I am usually addressed on letters, &c., esquire’ (Confessions, II C1 53 / C2 230).

32If we piece together all the autobiographical essays, beyond the constantly interrupting, fragmented and digressive narrative, we find a story of resilience and narrative resilience: the autobiographical narrative, which positively cannot go on to describe the misery, or maybe the disappointment, of adult life, turns into something else: memoirs, allegory, historical and philosophical essay, and most of all biography. The narrative ‘I’ turns into the witness of his great contemporaries, but they turn out to be alter egos, and so the autobiographical narrative moves on by proxy. If we take again a wider view, in all his essays, De Quincey writes with the same consistent persona: the autobiographical ‘I’ of the Confessions, when he was, as it were, born again as an author. Thus, De Quincey’s works embody what Gertrude Stein said: ‘anything is an autobiography’ (3).

33Like a seemingly rebellious river flowing upstream during the bore, De Quincey’s assertion of nostalgic, arch-romanticism is in part a way of refusing the confluence of romantic with Victorian modernity. He lacked the critical tools, or perhaps merely the self-confidence, to acknowledge modernity’s (and his own) creative achievement. Anxious for recognition and self-control, eager to assert himself, he constantly undervalued the true source of his creativity: his essay-writing, and more specifically his magazine essay-writing, which always seemed to him a minor form of literature. Yet De Quincey was a committed essayist. Even his private letters turned into essays: in one of them he asks to be forgiven for the length of his letter because, he says, he had forgotten that he was writing a letter. Several texts stand out as isolated attempts in De Quincey’s very heterogeneous works, suggesting a taste for experiment and toying with genre. Some texts even stand alone: he wrote one confession, one epic tale (The Nautico-Military Nun of Spain), one novel (Klosterheim), one parody (‘The Street Companion’), and so on. His seeming failures and self-deprecating autobiographical voice, within extensive works vibrant with humour and energy, tell us a tale of creativity simultaneously stimulated and thwarted, which may well epitomize the spirit of his particular age: the confluence between the Romantics and the Victorians.

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Primary Sources

Works of Thomas De Quincey. Ed. Grevel Lindop. Manchester: Pickering & Chatto, 2000, 21 vols. References to the Confessions of an English Opium-Eater distinguish the first and the second edition (C1 in 1821, C2 in 1856).

Pater, Walter. ‘The School of Giorgione’. Fortnightly Review, 1877.


Bloom, Harold. The Anxiety of Influence. New York: OUP, 1973.

Brown, Calvin S. ‘The Musical Structure of De Quincey’s Dream-Fugue’. Musical Quarterly 24 (1938): 341–50.

Cafarelli, Annette Wheeler. Prose in the Age of Poets: Romanticism and Biographical Narrative from Johnson to De Quincey. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1990.

Compagnon, Antoine. La seconde main ou le travail de la citation. Paris: Seuil, 1979.

Delaura, David J. ‘The Allegory of Life: The Autobiographical Impulse in Victorian Prose’. Wascana Review 12 (1977): 333–54.

De luca, V. A. Thomas De Quincey: The Prose of Vision. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1982.

Elton, Oliver. Survey of English Literature, 1780-1880. New York: Macmillan, 1920. Internet Archive. Web. 14 juillet 2014.

Gaillet, de Chezelles. Wordsworth et la marche. Grenoble: ELLUG, 2007.

Gamer, Michael. Romanticism and the Gothic. Cambridge: CUP, 2000.

Maa, Gerald. ‘Keeping Time with the Mail-Coach: Anachronism and De Quincey’s “The English Mail-Coach”. Studies in Romanticism 50.1 (Spring 2011): 125–43.

Mcdonagh, Josephine. De Quincey’s Disciplines. Oxford: Clarendon, 1994.

Rinehart, Keith. ‘The Victorian Approach to Autobiography’. Modern Philology (February 1954): 177–86.

Snyder, Robert Lance. ‘Klosterheim: De Quincey’s Gothic Masque’. Research Studies 49.3 (1981): 129–42.

Stein, Gertrude. Everybody’s Autobiography. London: Heinemann, 1938.

Whale, John. Thomas De Quincey’s Reluctant Autobiography. London: Croom Helm, 1984.

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1 It would be more accurate to call him a polymath in the Humanities: De Quincey is no scientist, though occasional remarks hint at an interest in challenging established medical expertise, usually on the subjects of opium, phrenology or magnetism.

2 Except Landor who died in 1864.

3 See also R. L. Snyder’s article on ‘De Quincey’s Gothic Masque’. 

4 See Gamer, 7, 16.

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Céline Lochot, « Thomas De Quincey between Romantics and Victorians »Cahiers victoriens et édouardiens [En ligne], 87 Printemps | 2018, mis en ligne le 01 avril 2018, consulté le 16 juin 2021. URL : ; DOI :

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Céline Lochot

Céline Lochot carried out her post-graduate research in Nancy and now teaches English at the Technical Institute of Roubaix (university of Lille). She has written a Ph.D. dissertation on Irony in the Works of Thomas De Quincey, first in his autobiographical texts, then in his complete writings; and is currently working on rewriting it in book form, to be published in 2017 (Presses Universitaires de Lyon).
Céline Lochot est agrégée d’anglais et titulaire d’une thèse de doctorat en études anglophones de l’Université de Bourgogne sur l’ironie dans l’œuvre de Thomas De Quincey, d’abord dans l’œuvre autobiographique, puis dans les œuvres complètes. Elle a été ATER à l’IUT de Nancy et enseigne désormais en tant que PRAG à l’IUT de Roubaix. Elle travaille actuellement à la publication d’un ouvrage issu de son travail de thèse qui sortira en 2017 aux Presses Universitaires de Lyon.

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