City of the Beast: The London of Aleister Crowley (Paperback)

City of the Beast: The London of Aleister Crowley By Phil Baker, Timothy Smith (Foreword by) Cover Image

City of the Beast: The London of Aleister Crowley (Paperback)

By Phil Baker, Timothy Smith (Foreword by)


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A work that combines biography and pyschogeography to trace Aleister Crowley's life in London.

"I dreamed I was paying a visit to London," Aleister Crowley wrote in Italy, continuing, "It was a vivid, long, coherent, detailed affair of several days, with so much incident that it would make a good-sized volume." Crowley had a love-hate relationship with London, but the city was where he spent much of his adult life, and it was the capital of the culture that created him: Crowley was a post-decadent with deviant Victorian roots in the cultural ferment of the 1890s and the magical revival of the Golden Dawn.

Not a walking guide, although many routes could be pieced together from its pages, this is a biography by sites. A fusion of life-writing with psychogeography, steeped in London's social history from Victoria to the Blitz, it draws extensively on unpublished material and offers an exceptionally intimate picture of the Great Beast. We follow Crowley as he searches for prostitutes in Hyde Park and Pimlico, drinks absinthe and eats Chinese food in Soho, and find himself down on his luck in Paddington Green--and never quite losing sight of the illumination that drove him: "the abiding rapture," he wrote in his diary, "which makes a 'bus in the street sound like an angel choir!"
Phil Baker is a writer based in London. His books include The Devil is a Gentleman: The Life and Times of Dennis Wheatley, and Austin Osman Spare: The Life and Legend of London's Lost Artist, of which Alan Moore has said "Phil Baker has established himself as among the very best contemporary biographers... What [he] has accomplished here is little short of marvelous."
Product Details ISBN: 9781913689322
ISBN-10: 1913689328
Publisher: Strange Attractor Press
Publication Date: August 16th, 2022
Pages: 304
Language: English
"A well-nigh indispensable book about London."
—Keith Miller, The Times Literary Supplement