Magazine August 2, 2021, Issue

An Interview with Thomas De Quincey

Portrait of Thomas De Quincey (Vladi333/Getty Images)

As is my habit, I sat down recently with a long-departed author for an interview. Thomas De Quincey (1785–1859), though most famous for Con­fessions of an Opium Eater (1821), was a considerable essayist and literary critic. Said to be unfailingly courteous, he was reputed to be an extraordinary conversationalist who never monopolized conversations. The answers here are his own words verbatim with a few tacit ellipses.

BAG: You’re concerned about the decline of rhetoric, aren’t you?

De Q: No art cultivated by man has suffered more in the revolution of taste and opinion.

BAG: Why do you say that?

De Q: There was a

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Bryan A. Garner — Mr. Garner is the author of The Chicago Guide to Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation, Garner’s Modern English Usage, and The HBR Guide to Better Business Writing.

In This Issue



Economic Competition

Human Rights

Books, Arts & Manners


The Week

The Week

The geopolitical, economic, and ideological competition between the U.S. and China is now out in the open.


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