On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts, Paperback

On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts Paperback

Part of the Penguin Little Black Classics series

3 out of 5 (1 rating)


'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.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9780141397887


Free Home Delivery

on all orders

Pick up orders

from local bookshops


Showing 1 - 1 of 1 reviews.

Review by

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 part-fictional but wholly satirical, commenting on the public horror-cum-delight in murders and the proliferate want of Philosophers to get themselves assassinated.<br/><br/>A wonderful book that really portrays the mind-set of those writing in the 19th Century. One is reminded of rich, languid personalities of the time; those who had money to spare on betting on which trickle of condensation may reach the window pane first, and those who viewed murder as nothing but a fanciful notion that may warrant a conversation. It is written in the manner and style as one would expect of a pre-Victorian writer; similar in tone yet without the consumerist pallour of a late-19th Century tale.