Profile for Mr. B. P. Van-asten > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Mr. B. P. Van-...
Top Reviewer Ranking: 2,776
Helpful Votes: 202

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Mr. B. P. Van-asten (London, England.)
(REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-18
pixel
Snowdrops from a Curate's Garden
Snowdrops from a Curate's Garden
by Aleister Crowley
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Snowdrops from a Curate's Garden - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 19 Aug 2012
Crowley wrote the book during a stay at his Highland home, Boleskine, on the banks of Loch Ness, after his wife Rose gave birth to their daughter Nuit Ma Ahathoor Hecate Sappho Jezebel Lilith Crowley, on 28th July 1904. Crowley and his friends whom he invited to stay: his physician Dr. Percival Bott, who joined the party in readiness for Rose's confinement; Gerald Kelly (1879-1972) the artist and brother to Crowley's wife Rose; Ivor Gordon Back (1879-1951), a friend of Aleister's and Gerald's from their Cambridge University days. Ivor was editing Crowley's `Collected Works' at the time and he later became a surgeon at St. George's Hospital, London. Crowley's Aunt Annie also attended and looked after the household while the men enjoyed the Highland delights of salmon fishing, shooting, climbing (Crowley taught Bott and Back the rudiments of climbing), playing billiards and the Laird's (Crowley's) wine cellar! Rose, in her convalescence was bored and so Aleister decided to entertain her by writing a `suitable book for her'. He wrote a chapter a day on his typewriter and read what he wrote to the rest of the party, except his Aunt Annie! - `Ivor and I, with some assistance from Gerald, collected such of these manuscripts as had not been destroyed, and with `The Nameless Novel', we composed a volume to carry on the literary form of White Stains [Aleister Crowley. 1898] and Alice [Aleister Crowley. 1905]; that is, we invented a perpetrator for the atrocities.' [Confessions. Aleister Crowley]
And so the book begins with an account of its imaginary author's life; the author, who is only known by the letter `K', we are told by an un-named editor who stole the manuscript, was born around 1860 in a `hunting shire of England' to parents who were reasonably well off to enjoy a life of leisure. `K' is a delicate and religious youth whom his tutors respect for his learning. After taking Holy Orders, he gains a Chaplaincy in Paris where he is accepted and honoured for his work amongst the poor. During the many hours of idleness he composes `hymns' and spends his evenings at a restaurant known as the `Au Chien Rouge' with the celebrated artists who frequent the place [Crowley is here thinking of the `Chat Blanc' in the Rue d'Odessa, where he enjoyed many an evening in the year 1902].
`K' gives himself sexually to a `boat-captain on a Seine steamer' and after marrying a young and beautiful English woman, they honeymoon in Cairo [Crowley is on familiar ground as he and Rose spent their honeymoon in Cairo]. The couple go to the notorious `T - Club' and there are soldiers, fish porters and all the good and bad of Egyptian society indulging in orgiastic behaviour. It is here that `K's' wife is violated numerous times!
Then we come to the `Nameless Novel' itself which is about an archbishop and his obscene atrocities which defy belief. Then we are treated to the `Juvenilia', poems which include: `The needs of the Navy', `After the Fall: a page from the Book of the Recording Angel' and `The Parson's Prayer'. Then from the `Bromo Book' we have: `Long before dawn', `Stephanos', `To Pe or not to Pe', `Home thoughts from abroad', `One way of love', `Outside the Spanish Cloisters', and `Force'. Then come the Limericks: `The sailor ashore', `Triolets', `Birthday Ode', `Rosa Mystica', `Celia', `The automatic girl', Micturating Mary' and `The poet abroad'.
The book is an interesting example of pornographic literature and `schoolboy humour' written merely as an exercise to amuse his wife Rose. Crowley invented many new words and phrases but its only real value is as a `period piece' for Crowley students and scholars. Its content fails to titillate but be warned as it does include such content as incest, torture, necrophilia, coprophagia, cannibalism, sodomy... you get the idea, all the things that put the `Great' in Great Britain! Crowley said about the book in his `Confessions' that `my object is not merely to disgust but to root out ruthlessly the sense of sin!' Not a bad endeavour! Humorous and degrading and jolly good fun! Enjoy!


Critique of Pure Reason (Penguin Modern Classics)
Critique of Pure Reason (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Immanuel Kant
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.19

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Critique of Pure Reason - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 19 Aug 2012
First published in 1781 by the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), the `Critique of Pure Reason' explains Kant's philosophical belief that knowledge is acquired through two varying factors: `a posteriori' - in which something is known to be logically true only by the evidence of the `sense' experience, and `a priori' - in which something is logically true through the understanding, independent of experience (pure reason). These conditions of knowledge must also take into account the concept of Space (outer intuition) and Time (inner intuition), which governs our perception and understanding. Kant analyses these unions of synthesis into twelve categories or conscious laws which include: Quantity (Unity/Plurality), Quality (Reality/Negation/Limitation), Relation (Cause and Effect) and Modality (Possibility and Responsibility; Existence and Non-Existence). By this Kant shows that the world around us is experienced by a priori (Rationalism and Reason) and a posteriori (Empiricism and Experience) subjective to consciousness (a unity of intuitions), linked by thought under certain laws.
This `consciousness' assents to specific modes of conduct, as in the `moral' law of behaviour (good, honest and positive actions), `amoral' and `immoral' (bad and negative actions). These moral laws are also driven by religious aspirations in some who assume the existence of a `Superior Being' or God, and are subjective to God's will. In metaphysics, morality and religion are not within the boundary of knowledge and lie in the region of faith, and so Kant brings into question the theory that there may not be a God, after all, and ultimately the concept that the soul cannot exist for how can a substance that is `not matter' (the soul) be contained `in matter' (the body)?
This is all very fascinating and Kant's work went on to inspire such thinkers as Johann Fichte (1762-1814), Friedrich Schelling 91775-1854), George Hegel (1770-1831) and David Hume (1711-1776). This interesting book will provide the reader with much food for thought!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 7, 2012 1:41 PM BST


No Title Available

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Equinox, Volume III, number 1 - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 16 Aug 2012
After five years of silence since the publication of volume I (publication alternated five years of silence with five years of speech and so Crowley considered volume II of The Equinox to be an unpublished `volume of silence'), volume III of The Equinox appeared in March 1919. With its blue cloth covers it became known by the familiar name of the `Blue Equinox'. The book has many works of magical instruction and esoteric knowledge specific to Crowley's Thelemic system of the occult the A.'.A.'., or Great White Brotherhood, a `Body of the highest Initiates, pledged to aid mankind. It offers instruction in the Way of Spiritual Progress and Illumination to individual seekers. The work of the A.'.A.'. is called Scientific Illuminism. This may be briefly expressed by quoting its motto: "The method of Science; the aim of Religion."
Every seeker is taught how to realise Truth for himself, by means accurate and well-tested. The O.T.O. is the first of the great religious Societies to accept the Law. It trains groups by way of progressive initiation. The Equinox publishes all instructions and pronouncements of the A.'.A.'. and O.T.O. It also publishes such poetry, drama, fiction, and essays, as are sympathetic to this programme, so far as space permits.'
This first number of volume III contains such important works as: `Liber II - The Message of the Master Therion', `Liber DCCCXXXVII - The Law of Liberty', `Liber LXI', `Liber LXV - Liber Cordis Cincti Serpente', `Liber CL - De Lege Libellum', `Liber CLXV - A Master of the Temple' (an account of the attainment of Frater Unus in Omnibus [Achad], Charles Stansfeld Jones), `Liber CCC - Khabs am Pekht', `The Seven Fold Sacrament', `Liber LII - Manifesto of the O.T.O.', `Liber CLXI - Concerning the Law of Thelema', `Liber XV - The Gnostic Mass' and the special supplement is `Liber LXXI - The Voice of the Silence: The Two Paths, The Seven Portals'.
The book shows a definite progression from the first volume and there is a clear turn towards more magical and Thelemic writing rather than short stories and plays. Sadly other numbers were not published during those `five years of speech' but if number one is anything to go by other numbers would have been of the highest quality and content. The book is remarkable as it stands alone in volume III (until other books by Crowley were issued under the Equinox volume III banner later on, such as `Eight Lectures on Yoga' and `Liber Aleph' etc), and it is an excellent addition to any occult student or Crowley scholar's library! Recommended!


THE EQUINOX (10 Volume Set) Vol. I No's 1-10
THE EQUINOX (10 Volume Set) Vol. I No's 1-10

5.0 out of 5 stars The Equinox, Volume I, Numbers 1-10 - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 16 Aug 2012
The Equinox is a massive periodical containing esoteric writings, poetry, short stories, plays and material on yoga techniques and magical instruction. Volume I comprises of ten bulky issues or `numbers' published twice yearly at the vernal (spring) and autumnal equinox between 1909 and 1913. The motto on the front cover of each volume reads `The Method of Science' and `The Aim of Religion' and it is subtitled `The Review of Scientific Illuminism'; in a magical sense it is known as the `encyclopaedia of Initiation' and it gives very specific and structured methods of attainment in the occult arts. Its author was the celebrated occultist and so called `wickedest man in the world' Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) who published it at his flat and Headquarters of his magical order the A.A. or the `Silver Star' at 124 Victoria Street, London. Other contributors included: John Frederick Charles Fuller (1878-1966), Victor Benjamin Neuburg (1883-1940), Frank Harris (1856-1931), Meredith Starr [Herbert Close] (1890-1971), and George Raffalovich (1880-1958).
It was Crowley's wish to produce a masterpiece of the English language in its printing and content - `My special job was to preserve the Sacred Tradition, so that a new Renaissance might in due season rekindle the hidden Light. I was accordingly to make a Quintessence of the Ancient Wisdom, and publish it in as permanent a form as possible... the Equinox, in a word, was to be a sort of Rosetta Stone'. The Equinox was the official organ of Crowley's magical order, the A.A. and it was the `first serious attempt to put before the public the facts of Occult Science, so-called, since Blavatsky's unscholarly hotch-potch of facts and fable, Isis Unveiled'.
Throughout several issues are serialised essays such as `The Herb Dangerous' which looks at the psychological effects of drugs and it is found in the first four numbers of the Equinox. `The Temple of Solomon the King' a biography of the magical career of Frater Perdurabo [Aleister Crowley] has the first four numbers written by Fuller and the rest written by Crowley.
Number 1 (published March 1909) contains such works as `At the fork of the road', `The Soldier and the Hunchback ! and ?' with a special supplement: `John St John: The Record of the Magical Retirement of G. H. Frater O. M. (Crowley). In number 5 (March 1911) there is the special supplement Liber CCCCXVIII `The Vision and the Voice' and in number 6 (Sept 1911) is the supplement featuring `The Rites of Eleusis', seven invocations or `rites' of the planets: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sol, Venus, Mercury, Luna. There is an account of an incarnation in Egypt in number 7 (March 1912) titled `Across the gulf', and in number 9 (March 1913) is the extraordinary `An Evocation of Bartzabel the Spirit of Mars', and finally in number 10 (Sept 1913) is a translation of Eliphas Levi's `The Key of the Mysteries' as a special supplement.
There is no doubt that to the student of the occult and the enthusiast of Crowley's work, The Equinox is essential reading and it incorporates everything from the early Golden Dawn teachings to Crowley's own magical system and the Law of Thelema in the Aeon of Horus. Many of the major writings have been published elsewhere of course and a less expensive option is to purchase Regardie's `Gems from the Equinox' which has most of the important magical writings, but to have the complete set of The Equinox is truly a wondrous and invaluable thing! Outstanding!


The Turn of the Screw
The Turn of the Screw
Price: 0.00

5.0 out of 5 stars The Turn of the Screw - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 10 Aug 2012
The turn of the screw is a classic ghost story by Henry James 1843-1916 and published in 1898. Written in the first person narrative, the novella is the story of a young governess who accepts a position taking charge of two especially beautiful children named Miles and Flora at a country estate named Bly. The governess, who is romantically drawn towards the children's handsome Uncle who has employed her, soon realises that there is something strange at Bly and she senses an evil presence at the house. Miles is expelled from his school and the reader, just as the governess, is left wondering what terrible schoolboy vices he has been accused of and was there a sexual element; of course, this is never spoken of. Before long the governess is seeing the ghosts of the former valet Peter Quint and the previous governess Miss Jessel. In life, Quint and Jessel were romantically linked but things soon suggest that the `romance' was no ordinary story of love and the new governess believes their restless spirits are influencing the children; attempting to corrupt them into their world of sin and `un-nameable debaucheries'.
The governess sees Flora near the pond, and she believes she is in contact with the sinister Miss Jessel. Flora is taken away to safety and little Miles dies in the governess's arms, with the predatory Quint determined to win over the boy's soul.
Henry James has written a truly haunting tale in which the tension tightens and we are never really sure whether the `evil' apparitions, if indeed they do exist, for it is up to the reader to decide, are seducing the children. Are the ghosts communicating with the children or are they figments of the new governess's imagination? But it is this uncertainty and the corruption of childhood innocence which is the most powerful and terrifying aspects of the story that leaves a lasting impression. I cannot recommend this wonderful story enough!


Complete Poems of John Keats (Wordsworth Poetry) (Wordsworth Poetry Library)
Complete Poems of John Keats (Wordsworth Poetry) (Wordsworth Poetry Library)
by John Keats
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.59

5.0 out of 5 stars The Complete Poems of John Keats - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 9 Aug 2012
Of all the English Romantic poets, Keats is the most emblematic of the notion of the beautiful, doomed romantic youth, succumbing to the tragedy and fate of his own death, something which appealed to the Victorians and the Pre-Raphaelites. John Keats (1795-1821) was an apprentice to an apothecary-surgeon and became a student at Guy's Hospital before abandoning medicine in favour of writing poetry. His first volume of poems was published in 1817 and was ridiculed as `Cockney School' of poetry. He visited the Lakes, Scotland and Northern Ireland and moved to London's Hampstead where he met and fell in love with Fanny Brawne. After financial difficulties he became ill in the winter of 1819 with tuberculosis and he died in Rome in February 1821.
Keats was one of the principle figures in the Romantic Movement and he was influenced by Wordsworth and Hazlitt and many critics were quite hostile to his poetic works. The year 1818 proved to be his year of maturity, writing such poems as `Endymion' (dedicated to Chatterton), `Isabella, or the Pot of Basil', `Hyperion', `The Eve of St Agnes', `The Eve of St Mark', `Ode to Psyche', `La Belle Dame sans Merci', `Ode to a Nightingale', `Ode on a Grecian Urn', `Ode on Melancholy', and `To Autumn'. His second volume of verse appeared in 1820 and his contemporaries either loved or loathed his work; Byron, that pompous man of action disliked Keats and despised his effeminacy which is strange coming from a man who delighted in the affections of both sexes! Yet Keats adored Byron's works. But Shelley, the profound visionary who died the year after Keats favoured the younger poet's intellectual and spiritual passion for beauty; he possibly saw a kindred spirit but where Shelley uses philosophy to shape his poems, Keats draws upon the sexual and physical notions of beauty, writing with real feeling and an admiration for beauty in all its transient forms. Byron, the Romantic poseur saw Keats as a passive poet; a `young pretender', with a liking for nostalgia, but I find Keats with his pure heart and imagination relates much better to the modern reader than Byron or Shelley for that matter, and the collected works are a proof of his lasting lyrical beauty! In the words of Shelley: `I weep for Adonais - he is dead!'


The Selected Poetry and Prose of Shelley (Wordsworth Poetry) (Wordsworth Poetry Library)
The Selected Poetry and Prose of Shelley (Wordsworth Poetry) (Wordsworth Poetry Library)
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.59

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Selected Poetry and Prose of Shelley - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 9 Aug 2012
Like Byron, Keats and Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelley has secured his immortality amongst the English Romantics and anyone wishing to understand the poetry of the period and the Romantic Movement need look no further than Shelley, for he encompasses the thought and essence of his contemporaries. Born in Sussex and educated at Eton College and University College, Oxford, Shelley (1792-1822) was an unhappy and rebellious child. He played the eccentric at Oxford and was expelled in 1811 for circulating `The necessity of Atheism' which he co-wrote with his friend T. J. Hogg. He eloped with the sixteen year old Harriet Westbrook to Scotland and they married in August 1811, a marriage ending in 1814 (Harriet drowned herself in the Serpentine in 1816). Shelley eloped yet again, now with Mary Godwin and her fifteen year old stepsister Jane `Claire' Clairmont. He spent the summer of 1816 at Lake Geneva with Byron and suffered tragedy when his daughter Clara and son William both died in Venice and Rome respectively. Percy and Mary settled in Italy and Shelley drowned in 1822.
Shelley is one of the great English Romantic poets and his major works include the visionary poem `Queen Mab' (1813), `Alastor, or the Spirit of Solitude' (1816), the epic political poem `The Revolt of Islam'; the four act lyrical drama `Promethius Unbound' (1819), `The Mask of Anarchy' written in response to the Peterloo Massacre; `The Ode to the West Wind', the satirical `Peter Bell the third', `The Witch of Atlas', `The Cenci', `Adonais' (1821) written on hearing of the death of Keats; the autobiographical `Epipsychidia' (1821), `Hellas' (1822) and `The Triumph of Life' (1822).
Shelley is often considered to be an angry young man with more than a hint of intellectual arrogance and self pity and for this reason he was derided in his own time and not really appreciated until after his death and the later appraisal by Victorian poets and writers. It is true Shelley was mischievous and idealistic and that he hated all forms of oppression and injustice; he was a radical who revealed his philosophical thoughts, political ideas and notions of human desire through his poetry. He was a non-violent, atheist, anti-monarchy, vegetarian who believed in free love and women's emancipation from oppression, and like Byron he supported the Greeks' cause against the Turks. Unlike that other Romantic, Wordsworth, whom he thought betrayed his ideals; Shelley wanted his poetry to connect with the world and cause reactions, which indeed it did.
The Wordsworth Poetry Library edition is excellent value, making great poetry available to everyone, something I'm sure Shelley would have approved of.


Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees
Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees
by Roger Deakin
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 5 Aug 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Wildwood is a fascinating and even spiritual appreciation for wood in all its various states of being and beauty, from its stately grandeur in nature and the terrible tragedy of the elm to its function within the landscape as ecological habitats and how skilled crafts persons manage and shape it into utensils, furniture and magnificent art forms.
Deakin is an excellent and knowledgeable fellow, evoking a mesmerising land of lost orchards and hedgerows; his enthusiastic passion for nature and storytelling really comes across whether he is talking about the rookery and the twilight world of the woods in literature; his journeys to the New Forest and the Forest of Dean and Wye, or the Australian outback and the Russian Steppe.
Trees are part of our ancestral heritage and our link back to the great wood; the familiar way markers in a landscape - the `fairy tale' woods of our childhoods, dark and haunted, imprinted upon our psyche, they remain with us. Enchanting and definitely recommended!


No Title Available

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uncle Silas - A Review by Barry Van-Asten, 5 Aug 2012
Le Fanu's novel published in 1864 is the tale of Silas Ruthyn, a man suspected of murdering a gambler found dead at Silas's home Bartram-Haugh in Derbyshire. Silas's brother Austin believes wholeheartedly in his innocence and on Austin's death bed he leaves a will stating that Silas is to be awarded guardianship of Austin's daughter Maud. Austin's belief and trust in his brother Silas is shown by the fact that if Maud dies before coming of age, Uncle Silas will receive her fortune.
Silas attempts to marry Maud off to his son, Dudley (already married) but Maud refuses. Under the belief that she is on her way to school in France, Maud finds she is a prisoner at Bartram-Haugh. Silas, Dudley and a creepy French Governess Madame de la Rougierre, plot to murder Maud, but the Governess is killed by Dudley by mistake and Maud escapes.
Le Fanu (1814-1873) is a master of the ghost story and Uncle Silas is full of atmosphere and chilling moments. Those who are wise will uncover a world of magic in the writings of Le Fanu if they should care to delve into his works. Excellent!


M.R.James: An Informal Portrait
M.R.James: An Informal Portrait
by Michael Cox
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars M. R. James: An Informal Portrait - A Review by Barry Van-Asten., 23 July 2012
I thoroughly enjoyed this book on the life of Montague Rhodes James (1862-1936), England's finest ghost story writer, and Michael Cox has produced an excellent biography of the scholar, dean and provost of King's College, Cambridge and later provost of Eton College. He concentrates on the man behind the ghost tales, exploring his character and his wide circle of friends. During his research Cox came upon an obscure `lost' work by James called `The malice of inanimate objects', something all Jamesian scholars and enthusiasts are grateful for.
We know James had a talent and a fascination for telling ghost stories to his school friends and there is a chapter on the development of the ghost stories and his own opinions on the `spirit world'. Cox quotes from the great man's letters and notebooks and there are lots of photographs, but those coming to `An Informal Portrait' with hopes of learning more about the composition of the famous ghost stories may be a little disappointed and perhaps you may wish to consult R. W. Pfaff's 1980 publication `Montague Rhodes James' which is still in my opinion the definitive biography. That said Cox has done excellent work in casting new light upon the master of shadows! Recommended!


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-18