Drawing on a broad range of rarely studied sources, "De Quincey's Disciplines" reveals the English opium-eater to be a more complex and contradictory figure than the latter-day Romantic and psychedelic dreamer usually portrayed. De Quincey is shown here to have been a prolific contributor to the periodicals of his day on subjects as diverse as astronomy, economics, psychology and politics. Taking a theoretical, new historicist stance, Josephine McDonagh's innovative examination of De Quincey's less-frequently scrutinized works - political commentaries, translations of German philosophy, numerous essays, his treatise on economics - recontextualizes De Quincey as a true interdisciplinarian, aspiring to participation in the major intellectual project of his time: the formation of new fields of knowledge, and the attempt to unify these into an organic whole. At the same time, De Quincey's works were often compromised by the demands of the market, his own political beliefs and his tendency to produce works of "the most provoking jumble".
Focusing on works produced in Edinburgh in reduced circumstances in the years after 1830, "De Quincey's Disciplines" portrays a transitional literary voice disseminating high-Romantic values to a Victorian periodical audience, and a displaced high Tory regretting the end of England's "ancien regime", even as he remains open to innovation in the diverse fields of knowledge. The book should be of interest to: postgraduate and undergraduate students reading English literature; literary critics; cultural historians interested in Romantic and Victorian periods; and people interested in cultural studies and in new historicist approaches to literature.
`De Quincey's Disciplines is resourceful and often revealing...the book is valuable for the new ground it breaks, and the new connections it establishes. The mapping in of his accomplishment continues at a brisk pace and De Quincey's Disciplines, with its breadth and insight, is a significant contribution to that process.'
The Charles Lamb Bulletin
`McDonagh shows herself to be an acute close reader with a wide range of reference.'
Times Literary Supplement
`McDonagh's identification of De Quincey as "one of the key writers who relay a higly influential version of Romantic values to subsequent generations" ... is surely of great importance for the discussion of De Quincey and Romanticism.'
Annette Wheeler Cafarelli, Columbia University, Nineteenth-Century Prose, Volume 23, Number 1: Spring 1996
`a signal and original contribution ... McDonagh's argument is manifold, far-reaching, and fine-grained. ...Mcdonagh is good. De Quincey's Disciplines will prove indispensable to De Quincey scholarship for a long time to come and an important contribution to cultural criticism in general. The author's sophisticated application of current historical methods will not only offer a model but pose a challenge to its successors, many of which, I expect, will
derive from it their primary inspiration.'
Nineteenth-Century Literature, 51:1, June 1996