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On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts


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by Thomas De Quincey

‘People begin to see that something more goes to the composition of a fine murder than two blockheads to kill and be killed – a knife – a purse – and a dark lane…’

In this provocative and blackly funny essay, Thomas de Quincey considers murder in a purely aesthetic light and
explains how practically every philosopher over the past two hundred years has been murdered – ‘insomuch, that if a man calls himself a philosopher, and never had his life attempted, rest assured there is nothing in him’.

Introducing Little Black Classics: 80 books for Penguin’s 80th birthday. Little Black Classics celebrate the huge range and diversity of Penguin Classics, with books from around the world and across many centuries.

They take us from a balloon ride over Victorian London to a garden of blossom in Japan, from Tierra del Fuego to 16th-century California and the Russian steppe. Here are stories lyrical and savage; poems epic and intimate; essays satirical and inspirational; and ideas that have shaped the lives of millions. Thomas de Quincey (1785-1859).

Thomas de Quincey’s Confessions and an English Opium-Eater and Other Writings is available in Penguin Classics.


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