Friday, 21 January 2011

Aleister Crowley and Gilles de Rais

Put Aleister Crowley into an article and you can usually guarantee something of interest. Whether it’s about occultism, the Led Zeppelin connection or his mountaineering exploits, the so called ‘wickedest man in the world’ generates a good tale. Of course many dismiss him as a self-deluded charlatan but there’s no denying, as the latest Footless Crow posting shows, that in his youth Crowley was a bold and talented mountaineer. The blog reprints a Robin Cambell piece that originally appeared in Mountain magazine.

As ever, I was interested to see what contemporaneous news reports had to say about the man. Following the Guardian Book of Mountains thesis that at the beginning of the 20th century the Manchester Guardian was the paper of record for all things climbing, I was expecting at least something on the 1905 Kangchenjunga expedition. Unfortunately there was little apart from a few mentions. There were though some amusing reports of court cases, plus the following story about Crowley being banned from talking about the 15th century poet Gilles de Rais at Oxford University. Perhaps it was a quiet news day but the issue was thought important enough to warrant a leader column in the paper on February 4 1930. (Click images to enlarge)

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