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ALICE: AN ADULTERY


 

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Title:

Alice:  An Adultery

 

 

Upper Cover

(State a)

 

Lower Cover

(State a)

 

Spine

(State a)

 

Upper Cover

(State b)

 

Lower Cover

(State b)

 

Spine

(State b)

 

Interior

(State b)

 

Interior Detail

(State b)

 

Zaehnsdorf

(State b)

 

Title Page

 

Publisher's Note

 

 

 

 

 

Print

Variations:

State (a):

300 copies8 printed on hand-made7 Van Gelder3 paper.

Pages uncut.1

Bound in white turned-in wrappers of thin Japanese vellum.1

Upper cover lettered in red ‘ALICE’.1 

7 1/4” x 4 3/8”.6

State (b):

At least one copy printed on vellum.

One copy rebound by Zaehnsdorf in red morocco leather currently resides in the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin, Texas (Call No. PR 6005 R7 A76 1905 [copy 1]).5 [see images at right].

Spine has five raised bands and is stamped horizontally across in gilt ‘ALICE | AN | ADULTERY’ [between 1st and 2nd raised band] | ‘1905’ [below 5th raised band].6

All outside edges are stamped in gilt with a double line.  Top and bottom of spine stamped in gilt with double lines in a semi-circle.6

Interior has a green watered silk lining with dentelles stamped in gilt.6 

Bound by Zaehnsdorf stamped at bottom of inner upper cover.6

7” x 4 1/8”.1

 

Publisher:

Society for the Propagation of Religious Truth (S.P.R.T.).3

 

Printer:

 

 

Published At:

Boleskine, Foyers, Inverness.3

 

Date:

1905.3

 

Edition:

2nd Edition.

 

Pages:

iv + xii + 85.3

 

Price:

Priced at 5 shillings.7

 

Remarks:

     Crowley had the original holograph manuscript for Alice.  An Adultery bound in blue levant morocco by Zaehnsdorf with a half morocco slip case.  Manuscript written in red ink, with pages here and there in black ink and pencil, and has many manuscript additions and deletions.  138 pages, quarto.4

     This edition includes a publisher’s note stating that it is “slightly abridged”  which refers to the removal of “A Brief Critical Essay on Alice an Adultery”, “White Poppy” and “Love and Fear” which were in the 1903 edition.2

     An extra verse is added to the twelfth part of the poem proper.2

 

     Some copies with REVIEW printed in the upper left corner of the front wrapper were sent out as review copies.9

 

     A copy exists in the Warburg Institute Collection that has Gerald Yorke’s transcriptions of extracts from letters written by Aleister Crowley to Gerald Kelly, and from Crowley’s autobiography giving details of the affair on which these poems are based.  Call Number:  EMH 1160.A43

 

Pagination:1

Page(s)

 

[   α]

Half-title

[   β]

Publisher’s note

[   δ]

Title-page

[   γ]

Blank

[i-xii]

Introduction

[   1]

Divisional title ‘What Lay Before’

[   2]

Blank

[3-11]

Text

[   12]

Blank

[   13]

Divisional title ‘Alice:  An Adultery’

[   14]

Blank

[15-85]

Text

[   86]

Blank

 

Contents:

-  Introduction By The Editor

-  Messaline

California

Margaret

Alice: An Adultery

    -  The First Day

    -  The Second Day

    -  The Third Day

    -  The Fourth Day

    -  Reincarnation

    -  The Fifth Day

    -  The Sixth Day

    -  The Seventh Day

    The Eighth Day

    The Ninth Day

    The Tenth Day

    The Eleventh Day

    The Twelfth Day

    Red Poppy

    The Thirteenth Day

    The Fourteenth Day

    The Fifteenth Day

    The Sixteenth Day

    The Seventeenth Day

    The Eighteenth Day

    The Nineteenth Day

    The Twentieth Day

    The Twenty-First Day

    The Twenty-Second Day

    The Twenty-Third Day

    The Twenty-Fourth Day

    The Twenty-Fifth Day

    The Twenty-Sixth Day

    Under The Palms

    The Twenty-Seventh Day

    The Twenty-Eighth Day

    The Twenty-Ninth Day

    The Thirtieth Day

    A Day Without A Number

    The Thirty-First Day

    The Thirty-Second Day

    The Thirty-Third Day

    The Thirty-Fourth Day

    The Thirty-Fifth Day

    The Thirty-Sixth Day

    Lethe

    The Thirty-Seventh Day

    The Thirty-Eighth Day

    The Thirty-Ninth Day

    The Fortieth Day

    The Forty-First Day

    The Forty-Second Day

    At Last

    The Forty-Third Day

    The Forth-Fourth Day

    The Forty-Fifth Day

    The Forty-Sixth Day

    The Forty-Seventh Day

    The Forty-Eighth Day

    The Forty-Ninth Day

    The Fiftieth Day

    -  After

 

Author’s

Working

Versions:

1.

Bound holograph manuscript with revisions in the hand of Aleister Crowley.  Pages:  138.  Dated:  1903.  Box 6, Folder 4.  Harry Ransom Center, Austin, TX.

 

Other

Known

Editions:

+

Alice: An Adultery, Privately published, London, 1903.

+

The Collected Works of Aleister Crowley, Vol. II, Society for the Propagation of Religious Truth, Boleskine, Foyers, Inverness, 1906.

 

Bibliographic

Sources:

1.

Dianne Frances Rivers, A Bibliographic List with Special Reference To the Collection at the University of Texas,  Master of Arts Thesis, The University of Texas, Austin, Texas, 1967, p. 27.

2.

ibid, p. 28.

3.

Gerald Yorke, A Bibliography of the Works of Aleister Crowley (Expanded and Corrected by Clive Harper from Aleister Crowley, the Golden Dawn and Buddhism:  Reminiscences and Writings of Gerald Yorke, Keith Richmond, editor, The Teitan Press, York Beach, ME, 2011, p.43.

4.

Complete Catalog of the Library of John Quinn, Sold by Auction in Five Parts, Volume one, ABB-MEY, the Anderson Galleries, New York, 1924, p. 227.

5.

Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin, Texas. 

6.

Personal observation of the item. 

7.

Aleister Crowley, Mortadello, Catalog “The Works of Mr. Aleister Crowley,”, bound in back of book, Wieland and Co., London, 1912.

8.

Weiser Antiquarian Books, Catalog # 18, “Aleister Crowley.  A Miscellany of Books and Manuscripts.”

9.

Weiser Antiquarian Books, Catalog # 148, “Aleister Crowley.  A Manuscript, Books, and Ephemera.”

 

Comments by

Aleister

Crowley:

     ...I had a vague idea of getting a hut and a native girl, and devoting myself to poetry of the most wholesome kind with corresponding Magick. However, at the hotel was an exquisitely beautiful American woman of Scottish origin. She was ten years older than myself and had a boy with her just entering into his teens. She was married to a lawyer in the States and had come to Hawaii to escape hay fever.

     ...The woman was herself worthless from the points of view of the poet. Only very exceptional characters are capable of producing the positive effect; but it is just such women as Alice who inspire masterpieces, for they do not interfere with one’s work. Passionately as I was in love, and crazily as I was behaving in consequence, I was still able to make daily notes of the progress of the affair with the detached cynicism of a third party. I took her with me to Japan, but there was not enough in her character to count “the world well lost for love”. Exactly fifty days after I had met her she beat it back to her “provider”; and I understood immediately why my subconsciousness had insisted on my scribbling the details of our liaison in my diary.

     The departure of Alice inspired me to write the story of our love in a sonnet sequence. Each day was to immortalize its events in poetry. This again was one of my characteristically crude ideas, yet the result was surprisingly good — much better, perhaps, than I ever thought, or think now. No less a critic than Marcel Schwob called it “a little masterpiece”. And many other people of taste and judgment have professed themselves in love with it. Possibly the simplicity of its realism, its sincere and shame-free expression of every facet of my mind, constitute real merit. It is certainly true that most people find much of my work hard to read. The intensity of my passion, the profundity of my introspection, and my addiction to obscure allusions, demand the reader serious study, that he may grasp my meaning; and subsequent re-reading after my thought has been assimilated; until, no intellectual obstacle interrupting, he may be carried away by the current of my music and swept but it into the ocean of ecstasy which I myself reached when I wrote the poem. I am aware that few modern readers are capable of settling down deliberately to decipher me. And those who are may for that very reason be incapable of the orgiastic frenzy. Scholarship and passion rarely go together. But my muse is the daughter of Hermes and the mistress of Dionysus.

     — The Confessions of Aleister Crowley.  New York, NY.  Hill and Wang, 1969.  Page 226-227.

______________________________

 

     At “Marlborough” we found the conditions for work very favourable. The firs step was to get rid of all other preoccupations. I revised Tannhäuser, wrote an introduction, typed it all out and sent it to the press. I put aside Orpheus and left aside Alice, An Adultery to ripen. I did not think much of it; and would not publish it until time had ratified it.

     — The Confessions of Aleister Crowley.  New York, NY.  Hill and Wang, 1969.  Page 238.

______________________________

 

     Marcel Schwob excited my unbounded admiration. He was admittedly the finest French scholar of English. ...Even after all these years I glow with boyish pleasure to recall his gracious, unassuming acquiescence in my impertinent existence and his acknowledgement of my Alice, An Adultery as a “little masterpiece”.

     — The Confessions of Aleister Crowley.  New York, NY.  Hill and Wang, 1969.  Page 342.

______________________________

 

     I remember giving the manuscript of Alice to Kelly and a girl named Sybil Muggins to read, and they agreed that no really nice woman would have kissed a man so early as the thirteenth day of his wooing. I must confess to having been taken a little aback, especially as Sybil Muggins was Haweis’s mistress.

     — The Confessions of Aleister Crowley.  New York, NY.  Hill and Wang, 1969.  Page 350.

______________________________

 

     ...an old friend of Gerald’s (Kelly) and mine, Ivor Back, at this time a surgeon at St. George’s, to make up the house party. Ivor Back is one of the most amusing companions possible, to those who can stand him. He knows a good deal about literature and had published in The Hospital magazine some of the poems in which I had celebrated various diseases. I dedicated my In Residence, a collection of my undergraduate verses, to him, and he collaborated with me to a certain extent in the composition of various masterpieces of the lighter kind. He and Gerald are also responsible for numerous improvements in the preface to Alice, An Adultery.

     — The Confessions of Aleister Crowley.  New York, NY.  Hill and Wang, 1969.  Page 405-406.

______________________________

 

     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 (Snowdrops from a Curates Garden.) to carry on the literary form of White Stains and Alice; that is, we invented a perpetrator for the atrocities.

     — The Confessions of Aleister Crowley.  New York, NY.  Hill and Wang, 1969.  Page 413.

______________________________

 

     There remain my narrative and dramatic books on love. The Tale of Archais is simply jejune; I apologize and pass on. The Mothers Tragedy, “The Fatal Force”, Jezebel, Tannhäuser, all treat love not as an object in itself, but on the contrary, as a dragon ready to devour any one less than St. George. Alice is partly excusable, because it is really a lyric, when all is said and done. In any case, I do not value the book very highly. It is ridiculous to make anything important depend on the appetites of an American matron.

     — The Confessions of Aleister Crowley.  New York, NY.  Hill and Wang, 1969.  Page 556-557.

 

Reviews:

(Commenting on the book being published by the Society of the Propagation of Religious Truth)

     We confess to being so dense as to miss the essentially religious purpose of the book. . . . But the power of many of the sonnets is undeniable. . . . For the perfect art of these lyrics, for their tender music, we have nothing but admiration. . . .

______________________________

 

     The Society for the Propagation of Religious Truth, Boleskine, Foyers, Inverness, has sent out a book in paper covers (5s. net) containing a sequence of sonnets, interspersed with pieces in lighter lyrical forms, which tell in rather spasmodic and sensational lines a story of unlawful love, and bear the appropriate title "Alice: An Adultery." The sonnet can carry a great deal; and yet these read as if the form were overloaded; while, on analysis, their freight turns out to be more passion and philosophy than poetry power.

—The Scotsman, 22 December 1904.

______________________________

 

     The author of this volume has an extremely “guid conceit o’ himsel’,” but a perusal of his poetry convinces us that it is ill-founded. He has a good deal of talent of a weak, neurotic, lyri-cal kind, but it is purely derivative, manner and form coming almost undisguised from the greater (and least English) of the pre-Raphaelites. For matter the author has turned to some un-savoury reminiscences of a chance acquaintance, reminiscences which plead to be forgotten, and which none but the very shameless would dare to put into print. The book is mostly about kisses, and to show the reader what a lot the author can say about them we venture to quote a stanza:

 

          One kiss, like moonlight cold

          Lightning with floral gold

               The lake’s low tune.

          One kiss, one flower to fold,

          On its own calyx rolled

               At night, in June!

          One kiss, like dewfall, drawn

          A veil o’er leaf and dawn—

          Mix night, and noon, and dawn,

               Dew, flower, and moon.

 

     Which seems to us (who do not pretend to be learned in these matters) a considerable deal for a single kiss to effect. Most of the book is in need of what a poet has called “purging fire.” One or two lines are good. One or two stanzas have the meaningless, derivative prettiness of the fragment we have quoted. For the rest, we will content ourselves with applying to the author the three words he applies to the late Poet Laureate.

—The London Daily News, 18 April 1905.

______________________________

 

     He has a good deal of talent of a weak, neurotic, lyrical kind, but it is purely derivative. . . . For matter, the author has turned to some unsavoury reminiscences of a chance acquaintance, reminiscences which plead to be forgotten, and which none but the very shameless would dare to put into print. . . . Most of the book is in need of what a poet has called “the purging fire.”  One or two single lines are good.  One or two stanzas have a meaningless derivative prettiness. . . .

—The Daily News, date unknown.

______________________________

 

     These love songs of his have a wonderful ardour, and almost Sapphic fury.  They flash and shine with images that are like little streaks of flame. . . . The verse with which the book opens has all the hard brilliance and the luster which are characteristic of the writer’s work.  The opening picture breaks on the senses like a shaft of sudden sunshine. . . . Among many things that occur to one in reading Mr. Crowley’s verses is their singular disseverance from the things of the day, their entire lack of what is called “The Modern Note” in poetry.  We must think that he deliberately shut his eyes to the writings of the intimate, romantic, impressionist school, or how else could so susceptible an artist have escaped its infection?

     Another thing that is apparent is the fitfulness of his inspiration.  A journey through the garden of the poet’s verses has all the excitement and the drawbacks of making one’s way by means of the illumination of lightning.  There is a lot of darkness to a small proportion of extreme brilliance, though, perhaps, as with all rare and superfine things this is necessarily the case.

     For the rest: great metrical force, rhythms so violent as almost sometimes to exhaust themselves, and, in some of the later work, a curious employment in his philosophy of paradox...

—The English Review, date unknown.

 
       
   

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