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Explanatory Notes FRONT MATTER AND PREFACE 1. Pythagorean: Ludlow used this pseudonym to give his work an aura of classical mysticism. Known for his development of basic principles in mathematics and astronomy, the sixth-century BC philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras and his followers were associated with such doctrines as the harmony of the spheres, metempsychosis (the transmigration of souls), the eternal recurrence of things, and the mystical significance of numbers. In chapter 14, “Hail! Pythagoras,” Ludlow explains that he experienced a number of mystical hallucinations under the influence of hasheesh that were similar to those attributed to Pythagoras. 2. The epigraph is from the concluding lines of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s celebrated fragmentary poem of 1797–98, Kubla Khan, inspired by a text on China and a vision the poet had during an opium-induced sleep. 3. Thomas De Quincey (1785–1859), author of the acclaimed Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821), was born in Manchester, England. The son of a well-off merchant, De Quincey demonstrated from an early age extraordinary skill at classical languages. He first took opium during his college years for a minor ailment, altering the course of his life and career. Associated with other English Romantics such as Coleridge and William Wordsworth, De Quincey linked Romantic preoccupations with subjectivity and dream states to the pains and pleasures of opium. His Confessions was the most influential literary drug memoir of its day and, as one can see from Ludlow’s objections in his preface to The Hasheesh Eater, became the text of inevitable comparison. The year prior to the publication of The Hasheesh Eater, De Quincey had issued a revised edition of the Confessions, renewing public interest in his work. 4. “currente calamo”: immediately, offhand (lit., with a flowing pen in hand). Ludlow was not the first nor would he be the last to claim an unpremeditated or automatic quality to his narcotic memoir. Coleridge claimed as much 060 explan (283-316) 4/26/06 10:31 AM Page 283 for Kubla Khan. Myths of this kind would also arise around the Beat classics Howl (1956) by Allen Ginsberg and On the Road (1957) by Jack Kerouac. 5. Palimpsest: From the OED, “a parchment or other writing-material written upon twice, the original writing having been erased or rubbed out to make place for the second.” In Suspira de Profundis (1845) De Quincey wrote, “What else than a natural and mighty palimpsest is the human brain?” This is a good example of what Harold Bloom has described as the “anxiety of influence.” Just at the moment that Ludlow wishes to make a space for his own writing, he invokes De Quincey’s concept of the natural palimpsest of the mind as means to “erase” the earlier author’s writings. 6. hasheesh-maenad: Maenads were female participants in orgiastic Dionysian rites. Ludlow refers presumably to a woman friend of his who also experimented with hasheesh. 7. Suspiria: In 1845, De Quincey published Suspiria de Profundis (Sighs from the Depths) as a sequel to Confessions. 8. Zoilus: From the name of a fourth-century BC Greek critic, a censorious, malignant, or envious critic. 9. “blind old harper. . . . Elegy”: Referring to Homer, the blind poet who sang the epic Iliad and Odyssey, Ludlow suggests that because of its genre, his work must inevitably be modeled on De Quincey’s, just as any epic poem must inevitably resemble those of Homer. INTRODUCTION 1. Arabian Nights: Since it was first translated into English in the early eighteenth century, the Arabian Nights popularized many of the exotic motifs associated with Asian cultures or the “Orient.” Harems, sultans, magic lamps, genies, hookah-smoking assassins, and shape-shifting characters became stock elements in the atmospherics of the exotic East. Ludlow’s discussion echoes De Quincey’s recollection in his Autobiographic Sketches (1853) that the Arabian Nights “fixed and fascinated my gaze, in a degree that I never afterwards forgot, and did not at the time comprehend.” 2. “The children . . . schools”: Ludlow is not quoting directly but using scare quotes to distance himself from a commonly held prejudice that he intends to refute. He suggests that American children in his day were commonly taught that Western culture is superior to that of the East and that the imaginative richness found in Eastern works such as Arabian Nights can be explained away as the product of a semicivilized, uneducated society. 3. Eblis: The principal evil spirit or devil of Islamic mythology. 4. dinted: Made impressions...


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