Alcohol is mankind's favourite mind-altering drug. Its effects - sublime, hilarious, heroic or catastrophic - have provided writers of all ages and cultures with subject-matter. This anthology offers a generous selection of extracts, ranging from the Epic of Gilgamesh, which predates Homer by some 1,500 years, through Homer himself, the Bible, Beowulf, Rabelais, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens and Zola to such contemporaries as Martin Amis, Thomas Pynchon, Wendy Cope and Seamus Heaney. Use and abuse, mild intoxication and violent excess, addiction and temperance, delights and perils are all considered. Writers have long enjoyed a close relationship with alcohol - sometimes too close. But, as this anthology demonstrates, it has often inspired their most brilliant flights.