Thomas de Quincey became enthralled and haunted by the murderer John Williams in 1811 and, although his works have always had the macabre about them, this essay looks at murder in particular in a more literary and scholarly way: imbuing it with the same aesthetic pleasures one might gain from other forms of art, such as writing or paintings. It is part-fictional but wholly satirical, commenting on the public horror-cum-delight in murders and the proliferate want of Philosophers to get themselves assassinated.
A wonderful book that really portrays the mind-set of those writing in the 19th Century. One is reminded of rich, languid personalities of the time; those who had money to spare on betting on which trickle of condensation may reach the window pane first, and those who viewed murder as nothing but a fanciful notion that may warrant a conversation. It is written in the manner and style as one would expect of a pre-Victorian writer; similar in tone yet without the consumerist pallour of a late-19th Century tale.