Levi’s History of Magic, annotated by Crowley
Aleister Crowley’s personal copy of The History of Magic, written by Eliphas Levi, translated to English by A.E. Waite, and heavily annotated by Aleister Crowley : $8000 : http://bit.ly/bpp626
Be sure to click through and view additional images, which include several pages of Crowley’s interesting annotations.
London: William Rider & Son, Limited, 1913.
Octavo, 16 x 23 cm. xxxvi,[536pp].
First edition. Association copy: Aleister Crowley’s copy, signed by him and with his extensive annotations throughout the book. Original dark blue cloth, spine stamped in gilt, front board stamped in gilt and blind. Illustrated with 20 black-and-white plates, including a portrait frontispiece. Translated from the original French by A. E. Waite. Housed in a custom dark-blue, cloth-covered Solander box with a gilt-stamped leather label on the spine.
The book contains more than 180 pages bearing Crowley’s penciled annotations, many of them scornful and deprecating toward Waite’s translative efforts. Crowley has signed the book on page 304, and his initials (as A.C., 666, or A.A.) appear on pages 135, 357, and 528. Some of the pages are covered with Crowley’s commentary and esoteric symbols, and many passages have been marked with brackets and/or underlining.
Crowley’s early interest in occultism led him to seek Arthur Waite’s guidance and tutelage, and though at one point Waite and Crowley were both peers of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, they — like so many other members of that secretive society — parted ways acrimoniously, fueling a rivalry that persisted for years and that is very much in evidence in these annotations. Crowley himself claimed to be the reincarnation of Eliphas Levi, and many of his own writings were inspired by that prominent 19th Century French magician, originally known as Alphonse Louis Constant.
This book has a secondary association, having once belonged to the Anglo-Welsh composer and music critic Philip Heseltine, a.k.a. Peter Warlock, and his signature (dated 1916) appears in ink on the front paste-down. In addition to Crowley’s numerous penciled scribblings, there are more than two dozen examples of annotations (both in ink and pencil) in handwriting other than Crowley’s. The boards and joints are rubbed, the corners and spine ends are worn, and the book has a slight cigarette smoke odor. Although there are a few places where the binding is cracked and the gutter exposed, thus leaving the binding somewhat shaken, the book is still sound and is overall a most extraordinary and unique association copy.