This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Julio Mario Santo Domingo collection.
The works of Aleister Crowley, the British occultist and author at turns renowned and infamous, are ably suited for inclusion in the Santo Domingo Collection: Crowley’s mysticism, drug use, bisexuality, and overall libertinism, emblemized in his famous slogan “do what thou wilt”, demonstrate his lifelong interest in altered states of mind. Among his most beloved subjects, of course, was himself, and nowhere is this in greater evidence than in his autobiography, The spirit of solitude: an autohagiography: subsequently re-antichristened the confessions of Aleister Crowley, published in this edition by the Mandrake Press in 1929.
The cover (top left) is illustrated with a grotesque self-portrait. The text, divided into “stanzas” rather than chapters and illustrated with portraits, drawings, and facsimiles of Crowley’s manuscript writings, consists of Crowley’s reminiscences interspersed with social criticism and personal philosophy.
As an example of the narrative’s self-aggrandizing tone, here Crowley describes changing his name from his given Edward Alexander, nicknamed “Alick”:
Aleister Crowley. The spirit of solitude. London: Mandrake Press, 1929. EC9.C8863.929s.
Thanks to rare book cataloger Ryan Wheeler for contributing this post.