In this first truly cross-cultural study of opium, Keith McMahon considers the perspectives of both smokers and non-smokers from China and the Euro-West and from both sides of the issue of opium prohibition. The author stages a dramatic confrontation between the Chinese opium user and the Euro-Westerner who saw in opium the image of an uncanny Asiatic menace. The rise of the opium demon meant the fall of the god of money, that is, Chinese money, and the irreversible trend in which Confucianism gave way to Christianity. The book explores early Western observations of opium smoking, the formation of arguments for and against the legalization of opium, the portrayals of opium smoking in Chinese poetry and prose, and scenes of opium-smoking interactions among male and female smokers and smokers of all social levels in 19th-century China.
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
Number of pages: 256
Weight: 349 g
Dimensions: 228 x 148 x 15 mm
Keith McMahon's monograph is a genuine contribution to the late Qing opium discourse, even today often mired in the unreflected condemnation of a complex and sophisticated smoking culture. -- Lars Peter Laaman * Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies *
This study contributes to the cultural history of late imperial China and the contemporaneous West. Recommended. * CHOICE *