BALESTA, Henri. Absinthe et Absintheurs.
(Paris): Lucien Marpon, Libraire, 1860. First edition. 16mo. 90 pages. Rare copy of the first book to record the social context of heavy absinthe drinking. In the 1850’s absinthe was primarily a drink of the fashionable bourgeoisie. It was supposed to sharpen the appetite for dinner, and in the early evening, the smell of absinthe wafted over the Parisian boulevards. By the 1860’s as absinthe became cheaper and more available to the working class there was growing concern about the results of chronic abuse of absinthe which was claimed to produce a syndrome, called absinthism, which was characterized by addiction, hyperexcitability, epileptic fits and hallucinations. This volume focuses on the effects of absinthe abuse in addicts and the community, both sensational and cautionary, the volume was partially responsible for absinthe later being banned in France. A very good copy in marbled boards, leather title label with gilt lettering to the spine, original wrappers bound in. Scarce, WorldCat only locates four copies of the first edition of this important work.
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