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On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts and Other Related Texts

3.4  ·  Rating Details ·  804 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
This scarce antiquarian book is a selection from Kessinger Publishing's Legacy Reprint Series. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment to protecting, preserving, and promoting the world's literature. Kessinger ...more
Hardcover, 82 pages
Published May 23rd 2010 by Kessinger Publishing (first published 1827)
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Bill  Kerwin

If you wish to discover the essence of Romantic prose in two essays--and if your taste in literature favors the eccentric over the center--you could do worse than these two works by Thomas De Quincey, one of the four acknowledged masters of the style.

De Quincy rejected, as did Coleridge, Lamb, and Hazlitt, the established 18th century models for prose—the lucidity of Addison and Steele, the gravity of Gibbon and Johnson—and instead sought a new voice in 17th century examples: John Milton, Thomas
Bookworm Sean
Perhaps such sharp humour is wasted on me, but referring to Tubal Cain (a decedent of Cain the brother of Abel) as being renowned for inventing tubes is just ridiculous. Ok, so tube and Tubal sound the same but that doesn’t make the joke funny. It just seemed completely ridiculous coming from an author who is renowned for such black humour. It was weak and, quite frankly, made me put the book down. If I’m wrong someone tell me, but Tubal Cain was the first worker of brass not a tube maker.

Sam Quixote
Aug 28, 2015 Sam Quixote rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Thomas de Quincey’s 1827 essay, On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts, is a satirical take on the English public’s fascination with gory murder, inspired by the 1811 Ratcliff Highway killings.

De Quincey imagines a sophisticated, but secret, group of gentlemen who meet to discuss the aesthetics of murder as some are wont to do with a painting or a novel or a piece of music. The essay is framed as a “stolen lecture” from the group.

It’s meant to be hysterical but who knows what the jokes w
Noa Velasco
Ha sido interesante pero un poco irregular. Parte de una premisa original y sugerente, con algunas dosis de humor elegante. Nos presenta una asociación de diletantes (en la primera mitad del s. XIX) del incomprendido arte del asesinato que, aclara, no comparten ni justifican, más bien aborrecen y censuran, pero que una vez realizado no hay por qué despreciar los maravillosos elementos que acompañan a los casos más sonados.

Así pues, consta de unas supuestas conferencias en las que habla de dicha
Sean Byrne
Mar 03, 2015 Sean Byrne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable read, though the inclusion of the Latin quotes did disrupt my reading. That said, throughout I could almost picture the narrator standing in a room of finely dressed men giving the lecture.

Great read, and the lack of fluff (introduction, notes etc.) improved the experience for me.
Es una parodia de una conferencia dada por La Sociedad de Conocedores del Asesinato en Londres. De Quincey plantea que el asesinato debe ser analizado desde una perspectiva estética, en vez de juzgarlo según valores morales. Indaga sobre el asesinato objetivamente, tal como haríamos al analizar una pintura.

También comenta diversas anécdotas curiosas sobre filósofos, como el intento de asesinato de Descartes y Kant. Esta parte es divertidísima.
Contiene altas dosis de humor negro y describe con t
Kyle van Oosterum
This work is darkly humorous if one chooses to admire the 'aesthetic' aspects of murder. It is "light and shade, poetry and sentiment" according to De Quincey. One must sometimes transcend mere morality to appreciate the imagination that goes behind any work of art, says Quincey.

He comments on the various philosophers who have had their lives attempted, and the implications of human impulsivity being capable of potentially saving a life and ending one.

I'll finish by quoting De Quincy's witty m
Michelle Curie
The idea of this little essay was definitely more interesting than the execution. The back of the book describes its content as Thomas de Quincey casting "a blackly comic eye over the aesthetics of murder through the ages". Written in the early-nineteenth-century after a series of brutal murders took place in London, this could have been an interesting read.

Having murder portrayed as an art form is an intriguing concept, despite its morbidity, yet my biggest issue was that this essay simply wasn
Saoirse Sterling
You can read my full review of On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts on my site XLeptodactylous.

Most famous for Confessions of An English Opium-Eater, Thomas de Quincey was an English intellectual, essayist and author of the 19th Century.

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 a
Mar 31, 2016 Arcadia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Arcadia by: Jordi Drenthen
De Quincey writes this short essay in the shape of a speech delivered to a fictitious society of gentlemen that discuss the aesthetics of murders, but only once the victim is dead and nothing can be done for him or her of course.
I thought it was excellent. I found it funny and compelling. I think de Quincey and I would have gotten along tremendously well. Although satirical, it is not a hyperbolised satire (or not to the extent as Candide was for example, my other main point of reference for sat
Jan 12, 2016 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The subject chosen ought to be in good health: for it is absolutely barbarous to murder a sick person, who is usually quite unable to bear it."
Feb 06, 2016 Joni rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hahaha! What a freakshow. I love it.
De Quincey gives a satirical and fictional account of a lecture given by "The Society of Connoisseurs in Murder" in London. By the way it is written you can picture yourself sitting in the audience listening to this guy talk to you about the merits of murder. Fun, right?

So, morally it is wrong to commit a murder and you should definitely not approve of the idea and there is clearly something wrong with anybody who wants to commit this crime. But let's say that
Sophie Cayeux
Sep 11, 2016 Sophie Cayeux rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Review on
This book was totally wasted on me. I obviously couldn’t appreciate its deeper meaning such as highlighting the impulsivity and ability of someone to end another life or the witty thought about a philosopher not being of any worth if no one has ever attempted to murder him. I simply couldn’t enjoy it like others have described it: satirical, humorous (black humour), hysterical etc.. I didn’t find anything funny in that essay.
I’ll describe my gut reaction t
"Opinionum commenta delet dies, naturae judicia confirmat." ("Time erases the fictions of opinion, but it confirms the judgements of nature.") I guess this was supposed to be a mini-book talking about murder in a tone of dark humor. But I never did find anything to laugh at. Reading this mostly feels like you are part of the audience as the narrator is giving a lecture in a conference where people are members of a group called "The Society Connoisseurs in Murder". As the title had already given ...more
Aug 31, 2010 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, horror
This edition has all three of De Quincey's essays On Murder Considered as One of the Fine arts, which centre on the Ratcliffe Highway Murders by John Williams in the 1810s. The essays look at the murders from the murderer's point of view with a more objective stance than is often taken, looking at the more aesthetic side of the crime, one which is often overlooked and overshadowed by the sheer horror of such events and the sympathies for the victims involved. De Quincey manages to address the 'p ...more
Oct 21, 2013 Michele rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a set of three papers that were initially published in Blackwood Magazine in the 1800s. It is a satirical and fictional look at the artistic qualities of a good murder. The letters describe a Club where members meet to discuss the various merits of murder and who should be considered a true artist and who should not. In these writings, DeQuincey discusses real-life murders including the Ratcliffe Highway Murders, which are epitomized as the most pure and beautiful example of the art of m ...more
Sep 13, 2012 Alberto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un 'clásico' citado en multitud de novelas policiacas, quizá lo mejor de la obra es la elección del título -'Del asesinato considerado como una de las bellas artes'- que lleva por sí mismo a la reflexión (sin pretensión por mi parte de desmerecer al resto).
La parte en tono de humor negro es la más original y (para la época) rompedora, mientras que la descriptiva me parece mejor escrita y de algún modo me hace pensar en ella como precursora de 'A sangre fría'.
He de reconocer que haberla visto co
Apr 14, 2015 Jaz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A strange read, to say the least: I enjoyed The Opium Eater and was looking forward to this, especially since it's short so I could take it on a journey. I decided to take it up to Edinburgh with me.
I enjoyed the essay , too, though not as much as The Opium Eater. However, I would have enjoyed it more if it had not been for the constant changes in language. I studied Latin but not well enough to cover any of this! It disrupted my reading somewhat and I felt it distracted from the writing as a w
Liz BooksandStuff
Feb 14, 2016 Liz BooksandStuff rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Since I have read a lot of fantasy, murder is one of the finest arts out there. I do like that this was a funny take, "if a man calls himself a philosopher, and never had his life attempted, rest assured there is nothing in him." However, the rest of his humour goes down the drain when he tries to make "descendants of Cain" funny.I will make sure to clarify, that I highly doubt this should be considered satire, it was too poor in writing and character to be in the same category as A Modest Propo ...more
Shannon DeRespino
Little Black Classic 4/80

This one surprised me. I am going into each little black classic blind, bar the brief descriptions on the back and inside on the author page. I haven't ever read De Quincey and the title put me in mind of a more journalistic expose, especially with the biographical information of De Quincey being haunted by the Williams murders all his life... And yet, this is a dark comic lecture that bears much in common with A Modest Proposal.

The jokes don't always land, but I did sm
Diego Calefato
Apr 24, 2015 Diego Calefato rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A good read. The reader puts you in a conference room and makes you feel like he is talking right to you in a room of people. The Latin was a little distracting, however, it did make. Me do some research to find the meaning of certain words, thus learning something unexpected along the way. Definitely a book to keep on the shelf and read again. Thank you Penguin Books for releasing it in such a great format that made it easy to read, afford and finish. More of these style of chapbooks please!
Jun 14, 2016 Roberto rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: narrativa
Aparentemente cínico lo que hace de Quincey es parapetarse tras el humor para criticar a la sociedad en su postura ante el crimen. Con fina ironía incide en analizar el crimen voluptuoso pero también el crimen por motivos materiales. Sin mencionarlo reflexiona también sobre el crimen de estado. Interesante la disertación entre el juicio moral versus juicio estético.
Rachael Quinn
Number 4 in the Little Black Classics box set. Another thing I probably never would have read. My problem with this one is that I am not well versed enough in the history of murder or philosophers to have taken much from it. I basically found myself wanting to look up a bunch of history on every page and also not wanting to stop to do so. Basically, my impatience probably blocked me from taking a lot away from this, even grasping the basic satire of the piece.

An early nineteenth-century satirica
M.D. Laird
Jun 17, 2015 M.D. Laird rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love De Quincey's work, but I think this is my favourite thus far. His satire is fabulous and often it is a challenge to weed the facts from the fiction. I also think the conclusions he draws are probably more relevant today than when he wrote them.

I couldn't help but notice a preoccupation with the number 12 which occurred throughout. I wonder if he was so fascinated by the Williams murders in particular because of the reoccurrence of the number 12. He frequently mentions that the second Will
Nov 19, 2014 Jean rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Este libro, que se compone de una conferencia dada en la Asociación de Conocedores del Asesinato, el autor hace un recorrido histórico desde los primeros crímenes de la humanidad, hasta los más atroces, situados en la Manchester del Siglo XIX.

Dificulta un poco la lectura el lenguaje “elegante” con que escribe y el abuso del latín, con lo que ciertamente quiere teñir con un tinte de glamour las actividades de la citada Asociación.

Según De Quincey, “el crimen es reprobable cuando se proyecta, per
Mustafa Şahin
Satirik bir dille cinayetleri incelemiş de Quincey. Yer yer mizahi bir üslubu da var. Hani olan olmuş, ölen ölmüş; bari işin estetiğine bakalım biraz dercesine yazılmış bir metin. Farklı bir bakış açısı, ilginç bir yaklaşım; okumakta fayda var.
Jan 04, 2016 Coenraad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thomas de Quincey wrote a bizarrely funny essay, giving voice to the chairperson of the Society of Connoisseurs in Murder. This gentleman discusses murder through the ages, starting with Cain, looks at the link between murder and philosophy, and points out aspects that elevates a murder to the level of an art form. His confession, in the final page, of his own endeavour in this regard, is particularly amusing, especially his apt use of an observation by Horace. Serious fun - for a South African ...more
Feb 08, 2014 Kaycie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Most of this book was just...boring. And a bit too morbid for my taste. The first two essays "On murder as a fine art", especially, were hard to follow and enjoy for these reasons.

The "On knocking at the gates..." was really interesting, as was the last "on murder..." essay, due to the fact that both deeply explored not just the mind of a killer, but the psychology of the survivors. The in-depth look at these psychologies was both interesting and quite thrilling.

(view spoiler)
Daniel Ausente
Dec 30, 2014 Daniel Ausente rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aunque se nota que está escrito hace casi 200 años, esa también es una de sus virtudes. Texto crucial como alegato provocador del verdadero sentido del arte, en forma de irónica y falsa conferencia para un club del admiradores del crimen homicida como objeto estético. Ahí estriba toda su modernidad, ya que anticipa una visión del mal como espectáculo que hoy es frecuente en medios de comunicación y del mal como temática para la subversión artística. La parte final, el postcriptum, relata con gen ...more
Jun 03, 2016 Jack rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's amusing how the standard of joke in de Quincey's infamous satirical essay treating murder as a purely aesthetic concern is the incredible work of punnery "All the Cains were men of genius. Tubal Cain invented tubes, I think, or some such thing.". Better yet, when he takes a cheap shot at Cockneys. "It is absolutely barbarous to murder a sick person, who is usually quite unable to bear it. On this principle, no Cockney ought to be chosen who is above twenty-five, for after that age he is sur ...more
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Thomas de Quincey was an English author and intellectual, best known for his Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821).
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“If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination.” 2 likes
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