Writing and Intoxication: Drunken Philosophers, Crack Addicts and the Perpetual Present

  • Russell Williams


Attempting to articulate anything resembling an exhaustive examination of writing and writers who have been dedicated or devoted to intoxication is, particularly in the light of the broad definition of the topic proposed in the Introduction, doomed to sorry failure. This is, of course, at least in part due to the vast number of texts and authors who have found solace or inspiration in some form of intoxicant: from Noah’s apocryphal drunkenness and classical Dionysian frenzy to the dark and deliberate intravenous preoccupations of writers such as Burroughs and Will Self, notwithstanding the cigarette-smoke-filled air of Left Bank, Bloomsbury and Greenwich Village literary soirées. At worst, the prevalence of drink, drugs, drinking and drugging makes them banal and unworthy of discussion. At best, their abundance and near ubiquity renders them very difficult indeed to describe with any real accuracy due to the potential scope of critical inquiry. In this chapter, then, I have less lofty ambitions, but a strict and sober, if somewhat arbitrary, focus. I endeavour to extend the theoretical Introduction by considering various moments from within literary history — from its founding texts to the present day — to consider the relationship between writers’ theories and their inebriated experiences.


Literary History Ecstasy User Creative Imagination Potential Scope French Writing 
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© Russell Williams 2015

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  • Russell Williams

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