Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Drugs and creativity

Last Thursday Dr. Carlin talked to us about the use of drugs by some literary figures to enhance their creativity. Is this a bad thing to do?
One of my favourite poems is ‘Frost at Midnight’ by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Sadly Coleridge became addicted to laudanum. The use of laudanum was widespread in the nineteenth century. It was used for pain relief, insomnia and diarrhoea. It is difficult to find out if Coleridge was a victim of the medication’s side effects, or whether he deliberately set out to abuse the substance in the belief that it would improve his writing. He was a very talented man, and I would speculate that his dependence on opiates actually robbed him of his true potential. ‘Frost at Midnight ’is a beautiful poem, but ‘Kubla Khan’ seems like the distorted ramblings of someone ‘off their head’. As a result of his addiction, Coleridge alienated his friends and became estranged from his wife.

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