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"The Beast 666" - John Symonds' last biography of  


Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 1000
05/04/2007 12:22 pm  

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I have just received "The Beast 666", John Symonds' (d. 2006) final biography of Aleister Crowley (Pindar Press, 1997).

I have questions for those who have read it and been able to compare it extensively to Symonds' third biography, "The King of the Shadow Realm" (Duckworth, 1989).

Is there anything startlingly new?

"The Beast 666" is a dark blue cloth hardcover, with a dustjacket cover entirely composed of the bald-headed frontispiece to the Equinox I.10, and on the back of the Old Crowley by Augustus John.

It measures 25 x 18 cm, against Duckworth's "King" of 24 x 16 cm.

It has 587 pages of biographical text, compared to 580 in "King of the Shadow Realm". The book divisions and chapter titles are identical.
The pages of "Beast 666" have 42 lines, while the "King" has 45 lines. The "King" has about 60 characters per line, however the "Beast" has 80.

So it seems there is a fair amount of new material.

He closes the preface with a new personal anecdote - "It was left to an Englishwoman in her thirties whom I had met to say the last word on Aleister Crowely. Her dismal circumstances and her very strange remarks about herself made me realize that she was insane but not yet hospitalised: 'I am very glad to have read Mr. Crowley's books; he makes me feel that I am not alone.'"

Then he adds his hypothetical epitaph to Crowley, in the same words as "King of the Shadow Realm."

Well, I'll report on anything new, in comparing the books. But if someone can direct me offhand to some new passages, I'd be grateful.

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Bel Murru