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.
Keith McMahon is professor and chair of the East Asian Languages and Cultures Department at the University of Kansas.
Chapter 1 Introduction to "Western Smoke" Chapter 2 A Short History of Opium Smoking in China Chapter 3 Westerners' Intercourse with China Chapter 4 Westerners on Opium and The Chinese Chapter 5 Zhang Changjia's Yanhua, Opium Talk (1878) Chapter 6 Eaten by Wild Dogs: Opium in Late Qing Fiction Chapter 7 "Why the Chinese Smoked Opium" Chapter 8 Appendix: Yanhua, "Opium Talk," by Zhang Changjia of Jinshan County, Jiangsu Province