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Hideous Absinthe
A History of the Devil in a Bottle
Jad Adams

The muse of artists, or the queen of poisons?

Hideous Absinthe boldly combines the art, literature, science, and social history of the nineteenth century to produce the story of a drink that came to symbolize both the high points of art and the depths of degeneration. Jad Adams looks at the myths of absinthe and examines its influence on the artistic movements of the nineteenth century. He considers the work of Degas, Manet, and Picasso, who painted what are now considered masterpieces depicting absinthe drinkers. He examines the mystery of van Gogh's absinthe addiction and asks whether absinthe truly did contribute to the poetic vision of Verlaine, Rimbaud, and other writers.

Adams looks back at absinthe's contribution to the hedonistic culture of the French Second Empire and to Toulouse-Lautrec's Paris of the 1890s.

Jad Adams is a television producer and author whose last book, Madder Music, Stronger Wine, received critical praise. He lives in London and on the Greek island of Leros.

Copublished with I.B. Tauris, London

An interview with Jad Adams, author of Hideous Absinthe: A History of the Devil in a Bottle, aired on NPR's All Things Considered. Audio will be available through the web at

Ken Mondschein has written a good review of Hideous Absinthe, click on New York Post review

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A vintage poster of a woman holding an absinthe bottle graces the cover of Hideous Absinthe. She is wearing a red dress.

April 2004
304 pp.   6 1/8 x 9 1/4
12 color, 12 b/w photos
Cloth ISBN 978-0-299-20000-8

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