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Del asesinato considerado como una de las Bellas Artes

3.28  ·  Rating details ·  1,539 ratings  ·  169 reviews
El escritor y polemista inglés Thomas de Quincey (1785-1859) poseía una erudición vasta y excéntrica, fruto del intenso estudio y de la soledad, y su vida fue un ejemplo de entrega total al cultivo del intelecto y de la aplicación del ingenio y del humor a las materias más complejas y profundas. De su enorme influencia baste citar algunos de sus admiradores: Poe, ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published December 28th 1999 by La Mascara (first published 1827)
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Leonard Gaya
This is a fake lecture, written entirely pince-sans-rire by one of the great English essayists of the early nineteen century best known for his slightly disturbing Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. On Murder is a semi-funny sermon with many convoluted moral considerations and a hodgepodge of examples from ancient and modern history.

One of the most memorable parts is the one dealing with the murder attempts on 17th and 18th-century philosophers: Descartes, Spinoza, Hobbes, Malebranche and
Sean Barrs The Ultra Vegan
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 doesnt 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 Im wrong someone tell me, but Tubal Cain was the first worker of brass not a tube maker.

...the mob of newspaper readers, they are pleased with anything, provided it bloody enough."
- Thomas De Quincey, On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts


Vol 4 of my Penguin Little Black Classics Box Set. This satirical essay, writen in 1827, for Blackwood's Magazine, seems both a bit dated (some of the humor is lost on me), but also strangely perfect for an age that seems almost Victorian in its prudence about nudity, but loves a good murder. De Quicey would have certainly found the
Sam Quixote
Aug 28, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Thomas de Quinceys 1827 essay, On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts, is a satirical take on the English publics 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.

Its meant to be hysterical but who knows what the jokes were!
Jacob Overmark
When George Orwell wrote Decline of the English Murder, he was very much indebted to Thomas de Quincey.
130 years apart, you may easily say that the artistic quality of what is commonly known as homicide had not moved many steps up or down -the evolutional ladder.
Thomas de Quincey satirically argues that the trivial murder cases only displays the poor minded murderers, we must look back into late antiquity to find the truly artful cases, or at least to the Borgias, even the Italian murder by
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
Βασίλειος Μέγας
Interesting and witty study from a man who claimed he had murdered his tom-cat.
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
"Enough has been given to morality; now comes the turn of Taste and the Fine Arts." On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts

"That once, when sitting alone with her, he had said, Now, Miss R., supposing that I should appear about midnight at your bedside, armed with a carving knife, what would you say? To which the confiding girl had, replied, Oh, Mr. Williams, if it was anybody else, I should be frightened. But, as soon as I heard your voice, I should be tranquil." Postscript [to Ibid.]

Sean Byrne
Mar 02, 2015 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.
Jan 12, 2016 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."
Shazia Noor
Mar 15, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
My expectations were so high with this one.
I loved reading the other previous 3 books of this collection but this one :/
This could have been an interesting read.
I think execution of the idea couldn't meet its expectations.
This essay was supposed to be humourous but who knows what the jokes were!
Interference of Latin phrases made it worse to go with the reading flow. I feel like I wasted my time on it but anyway.
Let's hope next 76 books of this collection do not disappoint me.
Joey Woolfardis
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 aesthetic pleasures one might gain from other forms of art, such as writing or paintings. It is
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
John Isles
Apr 05, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
"Blackly comic" says the blurb. Black is accurate, but maybe it's the humor that hasn't traveled well from the year 1827 when De Quincey wrote this mock lecture in favor of murder. At least the book was short.
Bill FromPA
"On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth" This is a short essay that contemplates murder and murderers as a subject for art. Though he mentions real-life cases, in this essay De Quincy deals more with fictional or fictionalized murders.
Our sympathy must be with [the murderer] (of course, I mean a sympathy of comprehension, a sympathy by which we enter into his feelings, and are made to understand them -- not a sympathy of pity or approbation). In the murdered person, all strife of thought, all
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humour
A note in this postcard-sized publication, issued to celebrate eighty years of Penguin paperbacks, tells us that the 26-year-old author was somewhat affected by the Ratcliffe Highway murders in London's East End in late 1811. We know from The Maul and the Pear Tree how deeply traumatising for the public those violent killings were, and De Quincey apparently was to write more than once about them over some three decades.

In 1827 he wrote this witty satire for Blackwood's Magazine---a piece which
Nancy Oakes
Sadly, my edition contains neither the short essay "A Knocking on the Gate in Macbeth," nor the 1854 postscript to these two lectures, so I had to find both and read them as well to gain a clearer picture of what de Quincey is saying here. Putting them all together made for a better reading experience in the long run, so have all four at your disposal before sitting down to read the original lectures.

I'll post more about this later when I talk about James & Critchley's The Maul and the Pear
Sep 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a little oddity - a satirical take on the public preoccupation with gory murders. The book is split between two essays - a fictional 'lecture' to a society who consider murder as an art form, and a report of a meeting held by the same society to celebrate a particularly fine set of murders.

I found the first essay more enjoyable than the second - unfortunately some of the murders are no longer as famous as when this was first written, but I did enjoy looking them up, and I found the first
A fake comedic speech about appreciating the aesthetic of murder. Sounds interesting, right? Turns out not so much
Okay, I just re-read this and had to bump my original one star rating up to a three. I definitely think this is a better on the second read and when you don't skim it.

Essentially, de Quincey takes a satirical view on how murder has been considered aesthetically pleasing in art (both how it is approached by writers - mainly philosophers - and how it is depicted in paintings) over the ages. What I really enjoyed about this was the humour - de Quincey is very funny when he wants to be. It's like
Jan 06, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Well, humorous stories are always going to have a difficult time with me because most times I just dont find them funny. Really didn't get the point of this book...
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
He's certainly onto something (and according to his memoirs, "on" something, namely opium) when he describes how the Germans can turn even murder into an aesthetic art. I have always been bothered by the German philosophers who go on and on about aesthetics, since outside of (an often martial style of) music, I'm not sure what fine art they've really produced. Not reading native German and never intending to, perhaps I will be forever tone deaf to Goethe's real ability in writing as well.

May 05, 2015 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
Read all my reviews on

Thomas de Quincey states at the start of the essay that it is a transcript from a meeting of a mysterious group of gentleman who are fascinated by murder. The rest of the essay is then the transcript and elaborates on several murders and the murder of philosophers.

Based on the fact that people are usually (to some extant) fascinated by murder, I was really looking forward to it. However, I didn't think it was as hilarious as the
Abraham Lewik
A curious tripartite essay, without much to offer the average reader. A strong finish is undermined by occasional vacuity in the preceding essays. Overall, the reading pleasure is depreciating as time has obliterated common knowledge about the murders central to the essay. It is more than a fleeting literary snapshot of true crimes, Thomas de Quincey's essay demonstrates the historic persistence of wicked fancy. Truly, civilisation loves to look at it's criminal underbelly.

Mr. Quincey takes as
Mar 08, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not my cup of tea. When I bought this book I was expecting something else but it was okay. Couldn't really focus on the story good.
Jan 04, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

Well, the man is dead, might as well appreciate the picture. Good satirical essay.
Dane Cobain
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is essentially a selection of thoughts on how murder has been carried out throughout the ages. It was pretty interesting but not mindblowing.

dreamer on the run
It was about such a gruesome subject but it was comic and fun? I really enjoyed and it certainly got me curious.
Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately it took me a few days to finish this one because life got in the way - but don't think it makes it bad in any way. I enjoyed every bit of it. The lecture part was amazing - I could just imagine it happening in front of me and a bunch of other people. The way it was written had s certain flow to it that made it easy to follow. Sure the few sentences in latin made it a bit difficult at times, but one gets used to it quite fast - at least I did. Usually I have a hard time seing the ...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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