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Although John Metcalf has at his command all the primary and secondary material regarding De Quincey, he has preferred to leave aside extended discussion, lengthy quotations, and other documentary impedimenta that would interrupt the reader’s pleasure. He has here presented a picture of an exceptionally charming personality, the career of a romantic dreamer, the story of a man and writer whose weaknesses and virtues have endeared him to discriminating readers. The volume brings out De Quincey’s essentially poetic nature, his childlike qualities, and his ingenuousness, as well as his subtlety as a critic of men and manners. The pathos and humor of his long struggle against opium, his experiences as a chronic debtor, and his protracted fight with ill-health, made his life a tragi-comedy, full of human interest that Metcalf has been quick to perceive. The result is a concise, thoroughly delightful, memorable portrait of the Opium Eater.