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Old 10-05-2010   #1
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Topic Winner Aleister Crowley, The Drug and Other Stories

Hi everyone,
I thought this could be interesting for a number of people on TLO:
A collection of Aleister Crowley's stories has just been published for Wordsworth Editions, with an introduction by William Breeze and a foreword by David Tibet. The book collects many stories which would be otherwise almost impossible to find and it's unbelievably cheap for a 600 pages book!

"This volume brings together the uncollected short fiction of the poet, writer and religious philosopher Aleister Crowley (1875–1947). Crowley was a successful critic, editor and author of fiction from 1908 to 1922, and his short stories are long overdue for discovery. Of the forty-nine stories in the present volume, only thirty were published in his lifetime. Most of the rest appear here for the first time.

Like their author, Crowley’s stories are fun, smart, witty, thought-provoking and sometimes unsettling. They are set in places he had lived and knew well: Belle Epoque Paris, Edwardian London, pre-revolutionary Russia and America during the first World War. The title story The Drug stands as one of the first—if not the first—accounts of a psychedelic experience. His Black and Silver is a knowing early noir discovery that anticipates an entire genre. Atlantis is a masterpiece of occult fantasy, a dark satire that can stand with Samuel Butler’s Erewhon. Frank Harris considered The Testament of Magdalen Blair the most terrifying tale ever written.

Extensive editorial end-notes give full details about the stories."

New Crowley Book: The Drug And Other Stories :: lashtal.com :: Home of The Aleister Crowley Society

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Old 10-05-2010   #2
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Re: Aleister Crowley, The Drug and Other Stories

I'm expecting this from Amazon as part of a belated birthday gift any day now. I'd like to read this more from curiosity than anything else, and I confess the fact that David Tibet is doing the forward is partly fueling that curiosity. I've only ever read Moonchild before, and I must confess I found it hard to take it very seriously, but I'm hoping these stories will at least be amusing if not overly thrilling.
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Old 10-05-2010   #3
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Re: Aleister Crowley, The Drug and Other Stories

This should be a tremendous volume, one that is long overdue.

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Old 10-05-2010   #4
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Re: Aleister Crowley, The Drug and Other Stories

Quote Originally Posted by Freyasfire View Post
[...] I confess the fact that David Tibet is doing the forward is partly fueling that curiosity. .
Given that Tibet has stated in previous interviews that most, if not all, of the resonance he once felt for Crowley's magical and philosophical Work has fizzled, I hope the tone of his Foreword is not too flippant or dismissive in regards to these fictives.

Richard

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Old 10-05-2010   #5
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Re: Aleister Crowley, The Drug and Other Stories

I remember reading Crowley's Diary of a Drug Fiend and loved it. I admitt it was a long, long time ago, I was a lot younger and wilder too but I loved how it resonated with the period. I felt like I was of the time it was written. That was what I remember feeling back then... I don't know if it would hold up as such now but I am intrigued. Love Wordsworth Editions!
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Old 10-05-2010   #6
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Re: Aleister Crowley, The Drug and Other Stories

Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Valzer View Post
Quote Originally Posted by Freyasfire View Post
[...] I confess the fact that David Tibet is doing the forward is partly fueling that curiosity. .
Given that Tibet has stated in previous interviews that most, if not all, of the resonance he once felt for Crowley's magical and philosophical Work has fizzled, I hope the tone of his Foreword is not too flippant or dismissive in regards to these fictives.

Richard

It's not as simple as that: He has mentioned in a later interview that he never adored Crowley as much as people seemed to think, and that he, afterwards, never disliked Crowley as much as people seemed to think.

I believe he holds some kind of position in the Typhonian OTO (in the cabinet, which is an advisory position) of which Bill Breeze is the current international leader. I don't think Tibet is a member, but I really don't know, and I'm not really sure I care either.

Both Tibet's and Breeze's introduction are very nice, and are quite appreciative, without being fawning; balanced as well as sympathetic. Tibet's is only two pages, Breeze's is seven pages long.

I have so far only read some five stories stories in the volume, the most interesting to mention here being 'The Testament of Magdalen Blair' and 'The Stratagem'.

'The Testament of Magdalen Blair' is interesting as an early example of cosmic horror (perhaps before cosmic horror as a literary mode had begun existing), or a story about a particular type of delusion, or (or rather, and) both.

'The Stratagem' is absolutely brilliant. Were it not for the fact that it had been written by Crowley, it would have ranked as one of the great short stories of the 20th Century. It's quite a Borgesian story, and very funny as well.

While this is not much to go on, given this is around 70-80 pages out of almost 600, I'm quite impressed, and very surprised. Crowley's writing is fluent and with good pace; his ideas are very well developed. I haven't been very interested in Crowley, especially since I've met a few of his admirers and weren't impressed by most of the people who were attracted to him. Still, that's not Crowley's fault. What surprised me most was how funny he was - he's witty, humourous, has a good eye for certain types of people; due to many of his fans (not all!) I had somehow expected it to be pretentious, self-absorbed and drowning in pathos. Not at all - irony and self-irony permeates these supernatural and weird tales. Heartily recommended.
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Old 10-05-2010   #7
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Re: Aleister Crowley, The Drug and Other Stories

Thank you, MadsPLP. I'm looking forward to this collection.

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Old 10-05-2010   #8
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Re: Aleister Crowley, The Drug and Other Stories

You're very welcome, Dr. Valzer.


By the way, it should be noted that '...Magdalen Blair' can (somewhat superficially) be seen as somewhat antiquated, with it's heavy use of clairvoyant and spiritualistic devices; however, it is used in a (pseudo)scientific manner, and works very well in depicting a spectral utter hell (or, a peculiar type of mental illness). The picturing of hell in that story could also be seen, by some, as somewhat anachronistic, but I found it to be very vivid and gruesome, due to its cosmicism - I think in particular Matt Cardin (as well as his readers) might find this story interesting.

Anachronisms are present in the work, but it's very often because Crowley's fiction was somewhat head of its time.



Crowley was good at - like Machen - pseudoscientific plot devices.
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Old 10-05-2010   #9
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Re: Aleister Crowley, The Drug and Other Stories

Thanks Mads, for all the extra information on both the David Tibet connection, and the stories that you have read. I find that after reading your words I am looking more forward to reading Crowley's stories myself.
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Old 10-05-2010   #10
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Re: Aleister Crowley, The Drug and Other Stories

BOOM! ----- Book- has - been - ordered (no hesitation).

Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Ilsa.

I'm so used to reading Crowley's non-fiction that this should be a real treat. It's big too; a beastly size for The Beast.

Coincidentally, just this last weekend I happened across a copy of Crowley's Liber Aleph Vel CXI while in a used bookstore. Snatched that one up too.

"Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough." Mark Twain
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