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Drunk the Night Before

An Anatomy of Intoxication

2008
Author:

Marty Roth

Drunk the Night Before

Exposes the secret history of drink, from creative stimulant to addictive poison

This invigorating work traces the cultural history of convivial drinking before the concept of addiction overshadowed intoxication's reputation as a creative, philosophical, and spiritual force. Marty Roth's Drunk the Night Before illustrates altered consciousness from myth to contemporary life, laying bare the behaviors and beliefs, sacred and secular, invested in intoxication.

Drunk the Night Before reveals the long and ambivalent relationship between artistic creation and altered consciousness and shows definitively that intoxication has been both praised as indispensable for creative work and damned for its deleterious moral and aesthetic effects.

David Lenson, author of On Drugs

This invigorating work traces the cultural history of convivial drinking before the concept of addiction overshadowed intoxication’s reputation as a creative, philosophical, and spiritual force. Marty Roth’s Drunk the Night Before illustrates altered consciousness from myth to contemporary life, laying bare the behaviors and beliefs, sacred and secular, invested in intoxication.

From the days of antiquity to the twentieth century, Roth follows the often veiled language of intoxication through religion and aesthetics, poetry and art, popular festivals and film. In this sweeping work, he examines the cultural roots of love potions and the fountain of youth, drunkenness in Hollywood cinema, the religious concept of a spiritual high versus the condemnation of intoxication. Roth reinvigorates the currently rebuffed connection between intoxication and artistic creativity, taking up by turn the poet Anacreon and the canon of drink poetry—from classical Greek to the European lyric, Euripides’s Bacchae and the figure of Socrates in Plato’s Symposium, the heavy investment of Western philosophy in intoxication, and the concepts of the carnivalesque in Friedrich Nietzsche and Mikhail Bakhtin.

At once deeply erudite and irresistibly congenial, this encyclopedic work makes critical sense of the long history of alcohol as potion and poison, as pharmakon and catalyst, revealing altered states as the hidden thread in the story of sensation and Western cultural consciousness.

Drunk the Night Before

Marty Roth is professor emeritus of English at the University of Minnesota. A longtime member of the editorial board of Dionysos, a journal of addiction and culture, he is the author of many works, including Foul and Fair Play: Reading Genre in Classic Detective Fiction and Comedy and America: The Lost World of Washington Irving.

Drunk the Night Before

Drunk the Night Before reveals the long and ambivalent relationship between artistic creation and altered consciousness and shows definitively that intoxication has been both praised as indispensable for creative work and damned for its deleterious moral and aesthetic effects.

David Lenson, author of On Drugs

Marty Roth does for effects of alcohol, stimulants, and literature what Burton did for the disease of genius in Anatomy of Melancholy: he accumulates evidence from myriad sources and traditions and creates a menippean satire whose art exudes in its convivial treatment of themes and authors.

Tom Conley, author of The Self-Made Map

The book’s brevity makes its academic style and language palatable even to readers who would not ordinarily flock to such a text for pleasure reading. Roth’s thorough examination of the topic is extremely compelling.

Minnesota Daily

A refreshing schooling on Substances 101, this time from the perspective of literature, rather than religion or science.

Minnesota Daily