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This article argues that William Beckford's oriental tale Vathek (published 1786) makes use of the trope of oriental despotism to address the experience of early British consumer society. Scholarship has neglected the degree to which eighteenth-century European commentary on oriental despotism, especially in Montesquieu's Spirit of the Laws, emphasizes the super-abundant consumption of the despot. Beckford's Vathek explores this theme in detail, organizing its narrative around the despot's insatiability. A reading of Beckford's novel suggests that eighteenth-century consumer culture contained both a decadent and a rationalized element. The novel departs, furthermore, from optimistic accounts of the history of consumption by depicting consumer society as driven by pathological compulsion and social isolation.