Musset didn't write the way he did because he drank absinthe, instead he drank for the same reason for which he wrote just like that: namely out of despair.
Many books have been written about absinthe in "modern" times. Some of them very well written and well researched while others... well, let's just say they're not as good. In the books section I have listed some of all these. Books that I consider either good enough to be mentioned or bad enough to warn you about them. Most books are readily available through any bookstore, on- or offline.
Author: Jad Adams
Jad Adams is known not only for his book about absinthe but also his well recieved and popular book about Ernest Dowson as well as several biographies.
Hideous Absinthe is another one of those books that was released just around the time when absinthe began its comeback in the late 1990's but compared to some other books on the subject back then, it's actually a very good read. It doesn't only cover the history of the drink but also goes deeper in looking at some of the social aspects that came with it as well as covering the often mentioned "famous absinthe drinkers" such as Wilde, Dowson, Munch and Strindberg on a slightly deeper level than most.
In some areas the book is absolutely excellent while in some it leaves some things behind. That is however not a dealbreaker. The book is certainly well written and I enjoyed reading it. Keep in mind that it has a few years on it now though and "new old things" have been discovered since it was first published.
Author: Marie-Claude Delahaye
This large coffee-table style book about absinthe is one of the very first in depth books to cover absinthe's history and the art and lore around it.
Heavily illustrated with photos, posters, labels and magazine prints it covers everything from the rise of absinthe, going through it's entire history and ending with the fall when the bans spread around the world.
It is an absolute must have for anyone seriously interested in research of even just reading about absinthe. It is however no longer in print and it can be hard to come by. Marie-Claude Delahaye have since the release of this book released many more on the subject and most of them are very good. If you find this, you should really buy it.
Author: R. Winston Guthrie with James F. Thompson
If there is one book every mixologist and bartender should read, and every absintheur should have at hand it is this one. With 65 recipes for classic and contemporary cocktails that include absinthe this will definitely add that extra something to any bar.
The book deals with the basic history and information of absinthe, and does so very well thanks to the assistance of my long time friend and absinthe historian (and businessman) Peter Schaf and his business partner from Tempus Fugit Spirits - John Troia. This part is essential in letting anyone not familiar with absinthe get a correct image of the drink.
The list of cocktails include classics such as the Absinthe Drip, Sazerac, Death in the Afternoon and many more. But almost more important are all the new creations. The list of mixologists contributing to the fine cocktails is amazing and they all come from some of the finest establishments you could think of. To make the perfect cocktail book complete it also has some wonderful photography by Liza Gershaw. Seriously - this is the best modern cocktail book I've seen to date, and I've seen plenty.
Author: David Nathan Maister
The definitive guide to all things absinthe. Written by absinthe historian David Nathan-Maister based on the wealth of information and absinthiana he has gathered over the years. This is in essence all of "the Virtual Absinthe Museum" put together in a richly illustrated book. Including the history of absinthe, poster art, antiques, brand history and a whole lot more this is by far the most in depth book on the subject you can find.
If there is one book about absinthe you need on your coffee table this is it.
Author: Barnaby Conrad III
An excellent book that covers almost every aspect of the history of Absinthe. Even though it's written "as early as" 1988 it is very well researched and lends an unbiased view into the history of absinthe. Everything from the rumours and myths to the true facts about thujone and what absinthe is in modern times. This one is a must have for anyone even remotely interested in absinthe.
Authors: Benoît Noël, Peter Verte, Artemis
A very good book that of course covers the history of absinthe from it's birth up until today. With chapters and sections about more or less known people and their relation to absinthe combined with photos of modern and vintage absinthe related items from various collections it is a pure pleasure reading this book. Along with that is a very good guide to web sites, restaurants and bars, stores, antique dealers and flea markets that to some extent have anything to do with absinthe. Also a very extensive list of films including absinthe and last but not least interviews with well known individuals on various aspects of absinthe. This book is a must have.
Author: Marie-Claude Delahaye
Marie-Claude Delahaye is well known for her many books on the subject as well as the Absinthe Museum in Auvers, Sur-Oise outside Paris. This particular book is a sort of run down on all the others, and is a very good book that covers most of it. Of course the history of it all is covered and it includes a lot of photos from the museum and various collections of vintage absinthe items. Anything from spoons to publicity posters and fountains. It is written in French, and no English translation is available, but with a good dictionary at hand, anyone will love this book.
Authors: Bettina Wittels & Robert Hermesch (edited by T.A Breaux)
The one I've got is the limited edition hardcover. It is a really nice book with colorful photos and good stories. It tells the history of absinthe - of course, but also some personal stories from the authors. Along this a section of restaurants and shops around the world, offering absinthe. There is a chapter regarding modern famous absinthe drinkers such as Dita, Johnny Depp and Marilyn Manson. At the end of the book there's a bunch of modern absinthe reviews that give a fairly good look into what the various types of modern absinthe are like. Certainly a nice book, but if you want something more in-depth, there are better ones. But the items pictured in the book are great and it's well worth every dime.
Author: Marie-Claude Delahaye
If you are at all interested in the history of absinthe this book is a must have and must read. It covers everything from the beginning up to this day. With detailed dissection of everything Pernod and all the various Pernod brands from "back in the days" this gives a very good view of who did what when and why. As always in Mdm Delahaye's books there is a large amount of great photos from various collections all relating to each bit of the amazing Pernod history that is being told throughout the book. This book is available both in French and in English.
Author: Benoît Noël
The latest book (when this was written in 2006) by well known art-historian and author Benoît Noël. With a wide range of books on the subject of absinthe this is more or less the A-Z dictionary on anything absinthe related.
A nice selection of pictures of absinthe artifacts and a lot of interesting reading along with a comprehensive list of the best absinthe related websites, online vendors, collectors and retail stores and restaurants.
Quite simply this book is a must have. Even though it is in French it is well written and can easily be enjoyed even with only little knowledge in French with the aid of a regular dictionary.
Author: Dag Tomas Lindmark
The very first Swedish book on absinthe. A book I was very curious about when I heard it was about to be released and was quick to buy when it finally hit the stores. I had high hopes for it given the background of the author and his presentation of the subject. So, I got home and finished the book in a matter of hours.
How was it then? To be honest it was one of the worst books about absinthe I have ever read, seriously. Not only does it contain age-old outdated and contradicted "facts" but it also contains a lot of factual errors made by the author himself and also cited from others but obviously with not enough fact checking. It also repeats the same old thujone stories and misconceptions as we've seen so many times before, which doesn't exactly make the book any better to me.
It appears as if the book was actually written in the mid to late 1990's but wasn't published at that time and then, now, when a publisher decided to publish it, the author didn't bother checking what had happened in the world of absinthe since he last touched the subject. So, I guess it is clear that this isn't the very best book on the subject.
For those of you who understand and read Swedish, you can download and read a full review with corrections and list of reference here as a PDF.
Many writers "of old" wrote poems or passages about absinthe. Some drank it, some didn't. Find some of them here as well as reviews and notes on modern books about absinthe.
The Absinthe Poetry section has seen several updates the past days. Poems and information about more authors; Antonin Artaud, Arthur Symons, Francis Saltus Saltus, Florence Folsom and Robert Loveman. Open your mind and have a drink while you enjoy their lyrics.
It's the new bistro, the new bar in town. A good place to meet when meeting in real life isn't always an option. Meet me on facebook for more updates from the absinthe world.