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Opium and Other Stories (Writers from the Other Europe) Paperback – May 26, 1983


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Product Details

  • Series: Writers from the Other Europe
  • Paperback: 205 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 1st edition (May 26, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140066896
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140066890
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,435,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Language Notes

Text: English, Hungarian (translation)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By apagdon@berkely.com on March 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
Opium Dreams is a rather obscure little collection of short stories by a virtually unknown writer who died under bizarre and violent circumstances at the end of World War I. The stories are excellent dream-like journeys through the macabre world of addiction. From opium to absinthe, each story is a window which sheds light on the darker sides of the human mind caught in the throes of addiction. It is less didactic and more enjoyable than De Quincey--definitely the product of a mind ravaged by the subject matter of the stories. A rarity which is well worth adding to any library.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Hancock on May 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
I ran acrosss this odd book while taking a class on "Literature from the Other Europe", meaning, not Britain, Franch or Spain. What I found was perhaps the truest account of addiction I've seen from anywhere but America or England. "Opium" is a short story that covers in a few pages the euphoria and self loathing of the addict. This wasn't written by someone faking addiction. You can feel everything as if you were living it yourself.
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Format: Paperback
"Opium" and the other stories in this slim volume use fiction to convey the wonder and horror of narcotic addiction in a way that few other books have managed to do. It stands with De Quincey's "Confessions" and Cocteau's "Opium: Diary of a Cure" as the finest examples of the true cost of addiction, but because it's fiction it draws the reader into the world of the addict even more accurately than the other two examples do. A masterpiece that should be better known than it is.
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Format: Paperback
Géza Csáth, born 1887, was an upper middle class Hungarian who showed considerable talent as an artist, writer, musician and composer before deciding of his own volition to enter medical school. He devoted his early career to researching the origins of mental disorders, a fascination which carries over to the short stories he was writing at the time. At the same time, however, Csáth became addicted to opium. During the First World War he began his own descent into insanity. In 1919 he killed his wife, was institutionalized, escaped, and then killed himself.

Csáth's short stories are a mixture of the tragic, the absurd, the macabre and the fantastic. The author's mother died when he was a young child, leading evidently to a sense of betrayal that caused him to depict mothers as uncaring. Children are often the principal subjects of his stories, and they are typically angry and sadistic, wreaking violence and death on their pets, their siblings, and especially their mothers. In other stories young men are tantalized with the prospect of sexual pleasures, only to be thwarted by indifferent females, by their own inhibitions, or by waking at the wrong moment to find it was all a dream.

Csáth is not entirely misogynistic, however. In "Festal Slaughter" he presents a remarkably sensitive portrait of a servant girl who must rise in the freezing dawn to prepare for the slaughter of a sow by a visiting butcher. Along with her employer's family she works to exhaustion that day processing the carcass, making sausages, etc., only to be casually raped by the butcher before he leaves. She is just as much a piece of meat to her culture as the sow.

In the title story, "Opium," Csáth praises his favorite drug.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Attila Zahorak on October 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is something else. Not addiction. Opium is a picture about the third world where everyone wants to be. Maybe not this way tho...

These ditties are pictures and visions from Csath unearthly mind. 'The Red Esther' or 'Erna' - warm stories with the woman of his great, deep soul. The impossible points are in which you get being arrested, and get turned out to another line. To an innocent, life-made sudden end.

Csath's voice talks to you as your friend, slightly introduce you into this land and this is another thing what makes the whole thing so enchanting.

Book a seat for this beautiful journey.
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