The Drug User Documents: 1840-1960. Antonin Artaud, Charles Baudelaire, William S. Burroughs, Jean Cocteau, Rene Daumal, Sigmund Freud, Theophile Gautier, Herbert Huncke, Albert Hoffman, Aldous Huxley, James S. Lee.
The Drug User Documents: 1840-1960

The Drug User Documents: 1840-1960

New York, NY: Blast Books, 1991. First Edition. Softcover. [ISBN: 0-922233-05-5]. Edited by John Strausbaugh and Donald Blaise, “…The Drug User Documents: 1840-1860 includes essays on hashish use from a New York physician (1910) and a clergyman’s son (1857); accounts of opium extravagances by artists and journalists in the first decades of this century; reports on ritual peyote use by an ethnologist in 1896 and of mushrooms by a banker in 1953…and many more surprisingly wide-ranging perspectives on this subject. No down-and-out apologies of reformed junkies, no hyperbolic heroics of crime busting drug czars, these neglected records of drug use are thoughtful and provocative excursions into the material and spiritual realms of existence arising from the use of intoxicating substances.” (from Back Cover). The French justifiably abound in this volume, and their long tradition of bohemian artistry is well represented here. Symbolist icon Charles Baudelaire appears with a section of his “The Poem of Hashish;” Theophile Gautier with excerpts from his “The Hashish Club;” Henri Michaux with sections from his work on his experiences with Mescaline, “Mescal;” and predictably the book is not without work from doomed surrealist-junkie-playwright Antonin Artaud (“General Security: The Liquidation of Opium”). Cocteau also appears with work on Opium, but perhaps more interesting is the excerpts from Rene Daumal, in which he writes of his self-experimentation with toxic carbon tetrachloride. Daumal scholars as well as medical professionals who have commented on the writing suggest it was these attempts to bring himself to the brink of death with carbon tetrachloride (and then will himself out of the experience with Rimbaudian certainty) that were the largest contributors to his early, sudden death from tuberculosis in May of 1944. To this we add a few English curiosities, proto-Steadmans like James S. Lee of London, writing from Shanghai in 1906: “Shanghai is a city where enormous quantities of cocaine, morphia, and opium were used (I am speaking of the year 1906-07, specifically cocaine, which could be bought from the Chinese chemists by the sixteen ounce bottle).” Let us consider some Americans, now: fifth (or fourth, depending on who you ask) head on Beat Mount Rushmore, Herbert Huncke appears with the hard-to-find short piece “A Brief Oral History of Benzedrine Use in the U.S.;” and William S. Burroughs provides the foreword while also blurbing the book inimitably: “This book belongs on the shelf of every Johnson in America.” Book in fine condition with only minor shelf-wear to fine-edges; scattered small nicks, scuffs to front, back covers; slight chipping at top left-hand corner of front cover; tiny bump to top left-hand corner of back cover. Fine. [Item #4092]

Price: $55.00