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A Portrait of the Heavenly Demon
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Author(s) :
Barbara Hodgson
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Edition(s) at Erowid :
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Chronicle Books
"Suddenly, magically, a bamboo shot up, then a poppy, then a flame. The Stranger broke the stem of the bamboo and plucked the poppy. As if by a spell, the bamboo became adorned with gold and jade, and the knot blossomed into a bowl. The poppy heads oozed a liquor like black honey. This was the first pipe and the first opium."
-- Claude Farrere, "La Sagesse de l'Empereur
Opium -- potent and evocative, it holds a near mythical place in the drug pantheon with its connotations of mystery, languor and sinister beauty. With Opium, Barbara Hodgson has created an exotic, lush book that stands as the first illustrated history of opium culture. From the swaying poppies of India and the Middle East to the dimly lit, smoke-laden dens of Asia, Europe and North America, Hodgson traces the path of opium's creation and consumption, and describes how it has been alternately rhapsodized, demonized and anointed.

Opium's seductive muse fueled the vision of artists, writers and poets, including Cocteau, Baudelaire and Wilde. And though frowned upon by much of nineteenth-century society, opium was still used in hundreds of commonly consumed patent medicines. Today, opium remains one of the most widely trafficked drugs in the world, and its story is by turns strange, comic and dark. Brought to life by an amazing array of archival photographs, rare engravings, movie stills and lurid dime-store books and magazine covers, Opium offers an engrossing look at this illicit but irresistible indulgence.

Barbara Hodgson is the author, artist and desiner of two illustrated novels, The Sensualist and The Tattooed Map, and collaborated on Paris Out of Hand, all published by Chronicle Books.