Mike Jay writes:
The film Confessions of an Opium Eater, shot on a shoestring by Albert Zugsmith in 1962 and starring Vincent Price, opens with Vaseline-fogged images of a Chinese junk and a delirious Price voice-over (‘I am De Quincey … I dream … and I create dreams … out of my opium pipe’). This is Gilbert De Quincey, a presumed descendant, who wanders the seas as a captain for hire, searching for ‘well, what every man searches for’. The film demonstrates two points very clearly. The first is the remarkable persistence of De Quincey the Opium-Eater as the archetype of the modern drug-taker. The second is that this archetype doesn’t depend on any element of either De Quincey’s life or his work beyond his name and the title of his most celebrated book.