The Addict within Divine Space: A Deconstruction of Opium Life Narratives
Bi-College (Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges). Comparative Literature Program
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My thesis is a comparative analysis of two life narratives written by opium addicts in the nineteenth century: one from England and one from China. The goal of this thesis is to assess to what extent can writing capture the experience of opium addiction. By deconstructing temporality within the written text, I show how writing complicates understandings of Being and the Self, conjuring a space where the addict can only point away towards their experiences but never express their experiences in unto themselves. This inability, however, should not deter us from reading opium life narratives. Instead, I argue that these texts should be approached through a framework established by apophatic theology. Through this framework, the reader can approach these texts in their totality without falling into their many contradictions.