The legendary Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) is a tantalising and bizarre subject. As an occult leader, heroin addict, sexual adventurer, misogynist, and visionary, he is the inspiration for many vile Gothic protagonists. Author W. Somerset Maugham even devoted a novel, The Magician
to this chilling figure of indulgence and religious mockery. Like any good biographer, Lawrence Sutin set out to discover the man behind the myth. After considerable research, Sutin admits that Crowley was "a shameless scoffer at Christian virtue" and "a spoiled scion of a wealthy Victorian family" but he also sees him as a 20th century figure as "protean, brilliant, courageous, and flabbergasting as ever you could imagine".
Consider these facts about the man who named himself "The Great Beast": he was one of the first Westerners to seriously study Buddhism and Yoga. He radically redesigned the traditional Tarot deck (thus the "Crowley deck"). Contrary to common belief, he was never known to participate in satanic ritual--to do so would acknowledge the Christian church, which he was loathe to do (although he nicknamed his son "The Christ Child"). These are but a few of the surprising morsels one can glean from this excellent biography. Don't expect to find Crowley a likeable figure. Do, however, expect to meet a flamboyant man who challenged all forms of religious, sexual, and social oppression and hence became a revered visionary and a reviled demon. --Tara West
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Born in 1875, Aleister Crowley was an arrogant and misogynistic product of the pampered English upper classes. A blustery coward, a racist with fascist leanings, and a callous user, he was as often threatened by his sexuality as he claimed to be liberated by it. But he was also a gifted poet and an iconoclastic visionary whose literary legacies extend far beyond the limits of his reputation. Like many self-styled decadents of his class and generation, Crowley developed a profound interest in the occult. His ground-breaking spirituality - that retains thousands of followers to this day - reconciled mysticism with hedonistic inclinations. A firm advocate of Eastern philosophy, drug-experimentation and rampant sexual adventurism, he was to become an important countercultural icon. In this startling book, Lawrence Sutin, by treating Crowley as a cultural phenomenon, and not simply a sorcerer or a charlatan, convinces even sceptical readers that the self-styled 'Beast' remains a fascinating study in eccentricity.