Dreaming DeQuincey

Dreaming DeQuincey is a hyper-document based on the work of the English prose writer Thomas DeQuincey (1785-1859) and undertaken as part of a graduate seminar on nineteenth-century aestheticism at the University of Virginia in 1996. It utilizes, as primary texts, selections from DeQuincey's Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, its sequel, Suspiria de Profundis, and an essay entitled The English Mail Coach. In addition, this document contains images by artists as diverse as Bosch, Dore, Munch, Burne-Jones, Rossetti, Blake, Michelangelo, Morris, Wallis, Piranesi, and Waterhouse. It also includes computer-generated animations.


DeQuincey's subject-matter combines with the hypnagogic style of his writing and his own interest in the myriad manners in which his texts may be read (indeed, as he points out, must be read) to make creative translation of his work into the hypermedia environment particularly compelling. This document is by no means intended to be a work of serious scholarship, although the connections which it draws, via hyperlinks, between passages of DeQuincey's writing may well spark critical thought. Each link has been carefully selected in order to create different sorts of synthesis -- to make implicit commentary on DeQuincey's project and on the means of its execution. Many of the passages, images, and links have been chosen with the aim of emphasizing DeQuincey's own consciousness of his medium and style, and therefore themes of involution and the palimpsestic, of vocalization and the hidden, and of laughter through tears predominate. Sarcasm, too, has infiltrated the system of links, but it charitably hopes to stand in balance with a genuine admiration for these texts and their author. Readers who suffer from DeQuincey's own condition of being "a hard student" may become overly-serious in their exploration of the hyper-document, but it is suggested that they also (eventually) (please) elect to slip and slide through these web pages, to find themselves interwoven in the words and images of which they are crafted, and to approximate a dream-state in their experience of DeQuincey.

The document consists of twenty pages of text and illustration. There are at least four and as many as six ways of gaining access to each page. There's no clear path out; eventually you will tire of it and go away.

Dreaming DeQuincey is best viewed on a computer capable of displaying high-quality color graphics, and with an internet connection of sufficient speed to enable web-based animation. Sincere thanks are due to Carol Jackson, who provided many of the images which have been mercilessly slashed and shifted and warped in this project.

For interested readers who may be approaching DeQuincey for the first time, the full texts of DeQuincey's Pains and Pleasures of Opium have been made available from the author's home page -- converted into hypertext format, with illustrations by Laurence Chaves. This electronic edition staggers under none of the silliness of Dreaming DeQuincey.