Stephen Maturin, Drug Fiend

From The Commodore, pp. 187-88

Yet [Maturin] had some faults [as a physician], and one was a habit of dosing himself, generally from a spirit of inquiry, as in his period of inhaling large quantities of the nitrous oxide and of the vapour of hemp, to say nothing of tobacco, bhang in all its charming varieties in India, betel in Java and the neighbouring islands, qat in the Red Sea, and hallucinating cacti in South America, but sometimes for relief from distress, as when he became addicted to opium in one form or another; and now he was busily poisoning himself with coca-leaves, whose virtue he had learnt in Peru.

An open thread for considering Patrick O’Brian as a European author.

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About Doug Merrill

Freelance journalist based in Tbilisi, following stints in Atlanta, Budapest, Munich, Warsaw and Washington. Worked for a German think tank, discovered it was incompatible with repaying US student loans. Spent two years in financial markets. Bicycled from Vilnius to Tallinn. Climbed highest mountains in two Alpine countries (the easy ones, though). American center-left, with strong yellow dog tendencies. Arrived in the Caucasus two weeks before its latest war.

3 thoughts on “Stephen Maturin, Drug Fiend

  1. Someone born in England, lived a half-century in France, spoke and translated from French, was friends with and wrote a biography of Pablo Picasso, had a good and detailed knowledge of European history and apparently one of the least chauvinistic interpretations of it possible; it would be difficult to better qualify for the description, I think.

  2. I like the series, but that particular quote does not seem quite right. As far as I know, the coca leaf has only beneficial effects, and to speak of Maturin “poisoning” himself with it is thus incorrect. I have tried coca leaves myself, in a place where that is legal, and believe that they could become a major cash crop and profitable export commodity if legalized. There is also coca tea, of course.

  3. “Poinsoning himself” also made me wonder a bit, maybe POB is pulling our leg a little there. But he’s also showing that this wonderful character has also explored a broad range of recreational pharmaceuticals.

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