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The Diary of a Drug Fiend.


Upper Cover


Lower Cover


Cover Interior




Cover / Spine


Dust Jacket

Upper Cover


Dust Jacket

Cover / Spine


Dust Jacket

Lower Cover


Dust Jacket

Upper Interior


Dust Jacket

Lower Interior


Title Page








Copyright Page




Contents (continued)


Advertisement from

9 November 1922

Times Literary Supplement



3,000 copies printed on machine-made paper.

Bound in blue cloth.1

Upper cover lettered in red within a double-ruled frame ‘THE DIARY | OF A DRUG FIEND | ALEISTER CROWLEY | [publisher’s device]’.2

Spine lettered in red horizontally across the spine ‘[double-rule] | THE DIARY | OF A | DRUG FIEND | [ornament] | ALEISTER CROWLEY [ publisher’s device] | COLLINS | [double-rule]’.2

Issued with dust-jacket.1   

7 1/4” x 4 7/8”.2



W. Collins Sons & Co., Ltd.1





Published At:




circa November 1922.



1st UK Edition.



x + 368 + 6 pages of publisher’s advertisements.2



Priced at 7 shillings and sixpence.4



Crowley began The Diary of a Drug Fiend at 31 Wellington Square, Chelsea on 4 June 1922 and completed the book on 1 July, 27 days later.  Leah Hirsig took Crowley's dictation, in longhand, all 121,000 words.3  

A "second impression" was issued in the same month as the 1st edition.1





[  i]


[  ii]

Publisher’s Advertisements

[  iii]


[  iv]

‘Copyright 1922 | Manufactured in Great Britain’

[  v]


[  vi]


[  vii]


[  viii]




[  1]

Divisional title ‘BOOK I | PARADISO’

[  2]







Divisional title ‘BOOK II | INFERNO’






Divisional title ‘BOOK III | PURGATORIO’




Text, colophone ‘GLASGOW:  W. COLLINS SONS AND CO. LTD.’


Publisher’s advertisements



- Preface
- Book I - Paradiso
- Book II - Inferno
- Book III - Purgatorio






Manuscript.  Book I – Book III.  In Leah Hirsig’s hand as dictated to her by Aleister Crowley, with a few pages in the hand of Aleister Crowley.  Pages:  1053.  Warburg Institute Collection.






The Diary of a Drug Fiend, E. P. Dutton & Co., New York, 1923


The Diary of a Drug Fiend., The Ryerson Press, Toronto, Canada, 1923





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. 49.


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, pp. 111-112. 


Lawrence Sutin, Do What Thou Wilt:  A Life of Aleister Crowley, St. Martin’s Griffin, 2002, p. 299.


Personal observation of the item.


Comments by



     I have myself made extensive and elaborate studies of the effects of indulgence in stimulants and narcotics. (See my The Psychology of Hashish, Cocaine, The Green Goddess, The Diary of a Drug Fiend etc.) I have a vast quantity of unpublished data. I am convinced that personal idiosyncrasy counts for more in this matter than all the other factors put together. The philosophical phlegmatic temperament of the Chinese finds opium sympathetic. But the effect of opium on a vivacious, nervous, mean, cowardly Frenchman, on an Englishman with his congenital guilty conscience or on an American with his passion for pushing everything to extremes is very different; the drug is almost certain to produce disaster.

     The Confessions of Aleister Crowley.  New York, NY.  Hill and Wang, 1969.  Page 490.



     I asked the Yi King in May of 1922 what would happen to me in England, whither I was bound. I got the 21st Hexagram, which means the open manifestation of one’s purpose. I was, in fact, able to re-enter public life after years of seclusion. It means “union by gnawing”, which I understood as bidding me to expect to spend my time in persevering efforts to establish relations with various people who could be useful to me, but not to expect to drop into success or to find the obstacles insuperable. This, too, came true. The comment in the Yi King promises successful progress and advises recourse to law. My progress was beyond my utmost hopes and I found myself forced to begin several lawsuits. The further comment describes the successive phases of the affair. The first phase shows its subject fettered and without resource. During my first month in England I was penniless, without proper clothes to wear, and obliged to walk miles to save the cost of a telephone call or an omnibus. In the second phase one suddenly finds everything easy. All one’s plans succeed. This, too, occurred. The third phase shows a man getting to grips with the real problems; he meets some rebuffs, has some disappointments, but makes no mistakes. The third stage of my campaign could not be better described. In phase four one gets down to work at one’s task, aided by financial advances and contracts to do work of the kind one wants. This was fulfilled by my being commissioned to write The Diary of a Drug Fiend and the present book, as well as several things for the English Review.

     The Confessions of Aleister Crowley.  New York, NY.  Hill and Wang, 1969.  Pages 630-631.



     My third string was to publish new books. Sullivan had suggested my trying Grant Richards, firstly with a plan for marketing the existing stock, and secondly with a proposal to write my memoirs. He promised to put in a good word for me as he knew Grant Richards well and was influential as being a man of sound business and literary judgment. I therefore called and made my proposals. But after some consideration, Grant Richards could not see his way to accept my terms. I think we were both reluctant to part; and one night I was inspired to try him with a third artificial minnow. I would write a shocker on the subject which was catering to the hysteria and pururience of the sex-crazed public: the drug traffic insanity. It provided a much needed variation from the “white slave” traffic. I proposed as a title The Diary of a Drug Fiend and sketched out a synopsis of its contents on a sheet of notepaper. This was mostly bluff. I had not really any clear idea of my story. I took this round to Grant Richards, who said it was not in his line. I asked him to suggest a likely firm. He said Hutchinson or Collins. Neither name meant anything to me. I gave Collins the first chance simply because he was on my way home.

     Invited to interview the responsible man, I found myself wondering who he was — I had surely met him before. He shared my feeling and was the first to discover the source. Over fifteen years earlier he had been on the staff of a paper called What’s On belonging to my old acquaintance Robert Haslam and at one time edited by poor crazy Dartnell.

     The gods had certainly started a new drama. The accident of this man, J. D. Beresford his name is, being the literary advisor of Collins probably made all the difference to the fate of the book. The synopsis was accepted enthusiastically and I obtained the pledges of money and advances, as per the “Yi” forecast, to the extend of a sixty-pound advance and a contract on much better terms than a new author could have hoped.

     I contracted to deliver the manuscript within a month. My idea was to rush the book through as a suitable for holiday reading. I wired to Paris for the Ape, who hurried over. We sat down at once to work. She takes my dictation in long hand, and it was therefore some “stunt” to have written the 121,000 words in 27 days, 12 3/4 hours. Mrs Marshall, the best typist I ever employed — she had worked for me off and on since ’98 — could hardly believe her eyes as one stack of manuscript came tumbling on the top of another. It gave me a chance to boost the Law of Thelema. I was able to show how the application of the principles increases efficiency as the profane deem impossible.

     Beresford was delighted with the manuscript and in high hopes of making a big hit. Unfortunately, my plan for publishing the book in August was not adopted. For various reasons they kept it hanging about till November. This annoyed me greatly. I expected its publication to arouse a tempest in the teapot around which the old women of criticism nod and talk scandal. I wanted to be on the spot when the fur began to fly, so as to give as good as I got. However, the gods have their own ideas.

     The Confessions of Aleister Crowley.  New York, NY.  Hill and Wang, 1969.  Pages 895-896.



     Besides The Diary of a Drug Fiend and my autohagiography I had contracted with Collins for the publication of Simon Iff. By this they pledged themselves to pay me an advance equivalent to the subscription sales of The Drug Fiend. They promised to let me have this before November 9th.

     The Confessions of Aleister Crowley.  New York, NY.  Hill and Wang, 1969.  Page 910.



     Mr. Crowley has not the literary fascination of a De Quincey or the power and stark realism of a Zola.  His most conspicuous gift is an effervescent imagination, an exuberant diction; and in the rhapsodies, despairs, and regeneration of Sir Peter and Lady Pendragon, ardent devotees of cocaine and “heroin,” retailed in a “Paradiso” (by Sir Peter), an Inferno (by his wife), and a “Purgatorio” (by Sir Peter), we certainly do not reach, though he avers it to be a :true story,” any impression of a real human experience.  They roam about Paris and Europe, palpitating at first with “internal ecstasy and the intoxicating sense that the whole world admired and envied us.”  They “had sprung in one leap to be coterminous with the Universe,” and so on’ then they sank into “boundless bliss” but drifting “down the dark and sluggish river of inertia towards the stagnant, stinking morass of insanity”; and through the horrors of despair they reach at last the Abbey of Thelema, where diminution of doses and dissertation on life and its meanings, control of the will, and the ‘credo’ of a Gnostic and a Catholic Church of Light, Life, Love and Liberty give them mastery of the will and of degenerating emotion; and the belief that there is nothing in nature, even drugs, which cannot be used for our benefit.  The book teems both with an immense fertility of incidents and idea; and with an amazingly rich crop of rhetoric.  It is impossible to say that at any moment in the career of Peter and his wife do we seem to be in touch with reality.  It is all a phantasmagoria of ecstasies, despairs, and above all verbiage.

—The Times Literary Supplement, 16 November 1922.



     “I got another packet and put it in my mouth.  He went wild and clutched me by the hair, and forced open my jaws with his finger and thumb.  I struggled and kicked and scratched, but he was too strong.  He got it out and put it in his own mouth.  Then he hit me in the face as I sat.”  This extract is from the diary of a young woman who has the cocaine habit.  As she starts by chanting “O thou fragrance of sweet flowers, that art wafted over blue fields of air!  I adore thee, Evoe!  I adore thee, I.A.O.!” there seems a slight falling off in her style—which only goes to bear out the argument of the whole and to show that these good drugs, as masters, do not exactly improve our manners, whatever they may do as servants.  Mr. Crowley suddenly leaves these slightly disgusting surroundings, and removes his young people to a wondrous place of treatment mainly by addresses and incantation.  He declares that the place exists on this carnal globe, and is willing to act as an intermediary should any reader habitually breakfast on heroin and desire to return to bacon and eggs.  There is a certain compelling power about the descriptions of degradation.  They have a truer ring than the ultra-fantastic patches—although these are credible enough as a rough translation into the speech of every day from a language only heard and understood under frightful and inhuman, if ecstatic conditions.

—The Observer, 10 December 1922.



Unfamiliarity with the effects of habit-forming drugs is a severe handicap to the reviewer of such a book as Aleister Crowley’s “The Diary of a Drug Fiend.”  He lacks a criterion by which to judge of its truthfulness.  However, Aleister Crowley assures us that it is a true story, rewritten only so far as was necessary to conceal personalities, and surely Mr. Crowley should know.  Let us then take him at his word, with such mental reservations as will obtrude themselves in spite of our earnest desire to believe.

There are stranger things than “dope” in “The Diary of a Drug Fiend.”  One of them is the dedication: 


Virgin Guardian of the Sangraal in the Abbey of Thelema in “Telepylus,” and to


its youngest member, I dedicate this story of its Herculean labours toward releasing Mankind from every form of bondage.


This is not, as one might be tempted to believe, a part of the ravings of a drug fiend.  It is a clue to the real character of the book, which is quite obviously intended as a tract for the cult which has its headquarters in the “Abbey of Thelema.”  The chief doctrine of this cult is embraced in the words:  “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.”  The high priest of this cult is one Basil King Lamus, known at the Abbey of Thelema as the “Big Lion.”  Apart of his mission in life appears to be the reclaiming of those who have fallen victims to the drug habit.

The Diary is divided into three books.  In the first, appropriately called “Paradiso,” Sir Peter Pendragon tells how, during a wild night in London, he took his first sniff of cocaine, and how he fell in love with a girl who went by the name of “Unlimited Lou.”  Lou was already a “snowbird,” in other words a user of cocaine.  On the spur of the moment they married and went to Paris on a “cocaine honeymoon.”  If we may believe Sir Peter, there is no happier form of honeymoon—while it lasts.  The time came, however, when cocaine seemed to lose the power to lift them up to the heights.  They experimented with heroin and found that its effect was quite different, but very agreeable.  Tiring of Paris, they went to Capri, and it was there that they fell into the hands of a clever swindler who robbed them of all their ready cash and their jewels, and worst of all, of their supply of drugs.  They were obliged to cable to London for money and, until it came, to suffer for lack of their usual stimulants.  The first book ends with their decision to return to England.

In the second book, “Inferno,” it is Lou who keeps the diary.  She tells how they fell lower and lower, living in filthy lodgings in London, not because they could afford no better, but because their eccentricities of conduct would attract less attention there.  Later on they went to live at Sir Peter’s ancestral home, Barley Grange, first assuring themselves a plentiful supply of cocaine and heroin.  At Barley Grange they experimented with devil worship, Sir Peter’s deceased grandfather having thoughtfully fitted up a room in the Grange with all the paraphernalia necessary for that purpose.  Their crazy antics drove all the servants from the house, and the two drug fiends continued to live there in indescribable filth.  Their meals, when they cared for any, were brought in from a near-by inn.  Then Sir Peter shot himself presumably by accident, and in the excitement of nursing him, Lou forgot all about drugs.  The result was that by the time Sir Peter recovered from his wound, they were both apparently cured of the drug habit.  But it did not last.  They returned to London and fell lower than before.

The third book, “Purgatorio,” is written by Sir Peter.  In it he tells how he and his wife, believing themselves to be hopelessly in the grip of the drug habit, had decided to commit suicide and how they were rescued by King Lamus, who carried them away to “Telepylus.”  He cured them by developing the “True Will,” that is to say, by helping them to find something in which they are more interested than they are in drugs.  They found that the doctrine, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law,” was to be taken quite literally.  It meant, among other things, that they might have all the cocaine and heroin they wanted.  The only condition was that they should keep charts and record on these charts how much they took and why they took it.  By adroit questioning King Lamus learned that Sir Peter’s greatest interest in life was mechanics, particularly as applied to airplanes, and that Lou’s one ambition was to be a true helpmeet to her husband.  So Sir Peter was set to work inventing a helicopter, while Lou looked after his comfort, and there you are.  It’s easy to cure a drug addict when you know how.

As might be expected, there is a great deal of mysticism mixed up with the cult practiced by the members of the Abbey of Thelema.  Here, for example, is a midnight invocation recited by King Lamus, the Big Lion.  He stood facing the north and accompanied his speech with a series of complicated gestures.  In a deep solemn voice, he said:

Hail to thee who art Ra in thy silence, even unto thee who art Kephra the beetle, that travelest under the heavens in thy bark in the midnight hour of the sun.  Tahuti standeth in his splendour at the prow.  Haul unto thee from the abodes of evening!

Does it mean anything?  Ask Mr. Aleister Crowley.  He tells us in a note prefacing the third book of the Diary that

 The Abbey of Thelema at “Telepylus” is a real place.  It and its customs and members, with the surrounding scenery, are accurately described.  The training there given is suited to all conditions of spiritual distress, and for the discovery and development of the “True Will” of any person.  Those interested are invited to communicate with the author of this book.

 And this is why the reviewer classes “The Diary of a Drug Fiend” as a tract.

—The New York Times, 29 July 1923.



     The impression is somewhat current that the use of narcotics is stimulating to the creation of great literature. I must confess that previous to the reading of “The Diary of a Drug Fiend” I was imbued with the same delusion. I possessed vague hopes of some day filling up on hasheesh or the like and being inspired into dashing off something weird, fantastic, exquisite. But the diary of this drug fiend is dull, commonplace, uninspired. It seems to me now that I could do as well upon Spearmint.

     One should not judge this book from the standpoint of literature, but rather from that of anti-narcotic propaganda. As such it should be mildly successful. The author protests unceasingly that this is a true story, but to me it reads like the plots of the Hollywood scenario writers. It is of course inevitable that the present morbid interest in narcotics will result in the publication of drug fiction, and the present volume is no doubt the beginning of an avalanche.

     The plot is well adapted for the screen and omits none of the hokum which invariably appeals. The fiend is an Englishman of title, Sir Peter Pendragon, lately aviator in His Majesty’s Flying Corps, suddenly heir to an enormous estate left by the proverbial eccentric bachelor uncle. Apparently he’s a decent chap, but a female German spy treats him to a little “snow” and Peter is completely bowled over by a ravishing and exclusive London belle, a Miss Lou Laleham, described as a cross between a Mongolian and a Swede. They engage immediately upon a cocaine honeymoon, beginning with an ascension in Sir Peter’s seaplane. Certain advantages of a cocaine honeymoon are frankly presented.

     Unfortunately the couple run out of gas and later out of “coke,” and their descent from Paradisio is terrible. They sink lower and lower into the mires of drug addiction until their common life becomes one continuous ground for divorce. The realization of their degradation overpowers them and they are on the brink of drinking prussic acid, when—

     Of course they are saved and the last third of the book is devoted to their cure by an ethical culturist out of the House of David with overtones of Dr. Coue and the Pathfinders club. His motto is “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.” Under his hocus pocus Sir Peter finds that his true will is not drug addiction but solving mathematical formulas.

     “The Diary of a Drug Fiend” is written in a better style than the general run of drug store fiction and should make a decided hit with all those who thirst for knowledge of psychology is amply satisfied by popular lectures on how to develop one’s personality. It is not recommended, however, for its analysis of narcotism, although it is not too far of the mark when it indicates that the cause of the addiction is to be found in the maladjustment of the individual in modern life.

     Likewise those who enjoy DeQuincey and Baudelaire will fail to appreciate this book as literature. They will probably agree with the preface that “it is a terrible story.”

—The Detroit Free Press, 12 August 1923.



     Aleister Crowley began publishing poems as far back as 1898 and he has gone on writing remarkable prose and verse ever since. But you cannot buy his books in any shop and I do not suppose even he himself has a complete collection. Yet I have no hesitation in saying that he is one of the greatest poets England has ever produced. I daresay he has written fifty volumes, some solid masses of sonorous and beautiful verse like “Orpheus,” others poisonously bitter pamphlets like “Chicago May.” He is mystical, obscure, frankly indecent, but almost always arresting. He is for ever attracted by magic as witness the twelve ponderous volumes of “The Equinox.” He has studied drugs. Perhaps by their help he once hoped to attain ecstasy:


         “Not by the pipings of a bird

          In skies of blue on fields of gold,

          But by a fierce and loathly word

          The abomination must be told.

          The holy work must twist its spell

          From hemp of madness, grown in hell.”


     To-day he would appear to have found out the folly of such false fantasies as drugs may momentarily give and he has written a novel, “The Diary of a Drug Fiend,” which not only shows the foolishness of doping, but is also a careful study of its effects and gives a hint as to how the habit may be cured. The book is divided into three parts. Paradisio which describes the ecstasies. Inferno which pictures the horrors of the reaction and Purgatorio which tells how the hero and heroine are gradually weaned and regain sanity.

     Crowley draws a sketch of himself in King Lamus, not exactly the same sort of man as the villain described by Somerset Maugham in the “Magician,” though in a sense more true to life, and his portraits of Lou and her husband Peter are full of genius. Crowley is a complete master of English and his vocabulary is stupendous. He also has a great and cruel humour, therefore the book will hit the reader hard. Which is exactly what Crowley wants. It is not a great novel but it is a fine piece of literature. No one can do good work unless they know their subject, and few people have studied the effects of drugs upon the mind with the industry and intelligence of the man who writes this book. Crowley is not only a poet of the first rank but he is also a student of the mind. When he was living in London he gave queer parties and would serve the guests with drugs and ask them to write down their experiences carefully. The Chinese like opium and I have never seen that, taken in moderation. It has had a bad effect upon them. Some Mexican tribes like anhalonium. Here, in London, the police believe cocaine and heroin are largely fashionable. Each land has its own mental stimulant, and those who are strong enough to stop before they have had too much don’t suffer. Humanity needs a stimulant and only fanatics forbid wine, beer, spirits, opium, tobacco, morphia and cocaine, and only those without any self-control are injured by stimulants. The present prosecution of poor creatures who drug is sad. They should not be imprisoned but cured. Crowley has some sound things to say on this point.

     The book will largely be read not only because it is well-written, but because it deals with a subject so many people discuss, and because the author knows his subject inside out and has the art to make it vivid. Crowley has been in every part of the earth, read everything, and studied everything, therefore, even those who have long since become bored with the drug craze will find astonishing passages which will make them think, and pen pictures of people and places which will make them laugh. Some of them may even visit “Telepylus.” Then Crowley will laugh.

—The New Witness, 29 December 1922.



     Aleister Crowley's "The Diary of a Drug Fiend" we have found one of the most utterly lurid narratives we have read for some time, but as for its challenging comparison with De Quincey—that would naturally be said—well, there simply is no comparison as to style!

—The Literary Review, 14 July 1923.



     So much is heard of “doping” nowadays that we suppose it was inevitable that this degrading vice would be exploited by writers of fiction.  “The Diary of a Drug Fiend,” by Aleister Crowley (London:  Collins, Sons & Co., 48, Pall Mall, S.W. 1), is written with ability and apparent sincerity, but the narrator and his wife are an unattractive pair of Degenerates, and Mr. Crowley, with all his undoubted skill in the handling of his medium, leaves us unconvinced by his account of their cure in that strange twentieth century “Abbey of Thelema.”  The description of the effects of persistent drugging are at times revolting, but the power of this part of the book is undeniable.  It lacks, however, the wonderful imaginative beauty that preserves the “Confessions of an Opium Eater” from the fate that has overtaken most of De Quincey’s numerous works.

—The Northern Whig, 6 January 1923.



     Drug-taking, to judge from The Diary of a Drug Fiend (by Aleister Crowley.  Collins.  7s. 6d.( seems singularly uninteresting.  But, then, I happen most emphatically to dislike losing control over my mental faculties, and the great attraction of drugs appears to be the creation in the mind of a false suggestion of wonderful power and pleasure—until the virtue goes out of them and they produce no effect whatever, save a restless craving, unless doses are taken regularly.

     The one excuse for writing such a book as this is that is should hold out some hope to the victims of this vice; and this Aleister Crowley does, describing the theories, way of living, and scenery of a spot to which the hero-villain and heroine-villain go, to be brought back to sanity by the discovery of their true work in life.

     It is not a pleasing book, but Mr. Crowley invites anyone interested in the system of training he describes to communicate with him.  Doubtless there must be many victims, and relatives of victims, of this and other crazes who will accept his invitation.

—The Daily Herald, 15 November 1922.



     Some time ago, when our highbrows, or, as they area pleased to call themselves, our intelligentsia, were all praising James Joyce’s “Ulysses,” I ventured to put it in the pillory as the pinnacle and apex of lubricity and obscenity. But the praise of our highbrows has made it possible for a respectable publisher to hurl into the British home a novel which is modeled upon that scabrous outrage. There are two methods of dealing with pornographic fiction. One is to ignore it lest publicity should inflate its sales. The other method is to raise public opinion so effectively that the book is either withdrawn from circulation by the publisher or is confiscated by public authority.


The Liberty of Art

     There is much to be said for the first method. No critic ought to puff a vile book by advertising its vileness. Moreover, no critic ought to narrow the liberty of literature or fetter the art of the artist. If there be a doubt, freedom ought to be given the benefit. On the other hand, if pornographic novels are ignored they tend to become more pornographic. They quickly expand their licence. The effect upon young writers is injurious, for they are tempted to mistake salacity for modernity, obscenity for daring, indecency for independence. Thus the art of the artist is doubly damaged. When the public revolt against the revolting, all artists are tarred with the same brush. The liberty of art is unreasonably curtailed. The pendulum swings from the extreme of licence to the extreme of prudery. And the profession of letters is smirched and soiled by its association with moral lepers.


Ecstatic Eulogy

     I have therefore determined to adopt the second method, and to do my best to secure the immediate extirpation of “The Diary of a Drug Fiend” (Collins,7 /6 net) by Aleister Crowley. It is a novel describing the orgies of vice practised by a group of moral degenerates who stimulate their degraded lusts by doses of cocaine and heroin. Although there is an attempt to pretend that the book is merely a study of the depravation caused by cocaine, in reality it is an ecstatic eulogy of the drug and of its effects upon the body and the mind. A cocaine trafficker would welcome it as a recruiting agent which would bring him thousands of new victims. . . .


Cunning Blasphemies

     The characters of the novel are repulsive. . . . The gospel preached by the book is this: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.” The obscenities are flavoured with cunning blasphemies. . .
     There is even a parody of the Creed. At the baser and more bestial horrors of the book it is impossible, even if it were desirable, to hint.

     It may be asked how such a book could secure publisher. Well, few publishers have time to read t the books which they publish, and even their readers some times read them hastily. I imagine that this book secure publication in the guise of an exposure of the evils wrought by drugs. But its true character is stamped on it in spite of its ingenious use of innuendo and artifice. It is a book that ought to be burned. Why lock up cocaine-traffickers if we tolerate cocaine novels?

—The Sunday Express, James Douglas, 19 November 1922.



"The Diary of a Drug Fiend" (W. Collins, Sons, and Co., 7s. 6d.), by Aleister Crowley, is stated in the preface to be a true story, rewritten only so far as was necessary to conceal personalities.  Told in autobiographical form, it is a terrible and searching account of the wild exaltation and the awful consequences of the "dope" habit.  The three books are named "Paradiso," "Inferno," and "Purgatorio," and the final one is a story of hope and of beauty, as the two preceding parts reveal the depths of the debauchery to which the drug victim may descend.  The author claims that the story is also true not only of one kind of human weakness, but (by analogy) of all kinds, and for alike there is but one way of salvation.  The pointing of that road is the true motive of the books.

—The Western Morning News, 14 December 1922.



The Diary of a Drug Fiend (7s. 6d. net. London: Collins), by Aleister Crowley, is put forward as a true story. The author himself characterises it as also a terrible story, but a story of hope and of beauty none the less. Following Dante, the progressive scenes are not inappropriately headed Paradiso, Inferno, and Purgatorio. Cocaine and heroin are the drugs, and in the first rapture of indulgence therein everything is transmuted as by heavenly alchemy into a spiritual beatitude. Too soon the over-inflated bubble bursts, everything palls, and the whole virtue of a dose comes to be that it simply dulls the pain of being without. When the craving is at its worst, it reduced the indulgers to a state of bestial degradation. The Purgatorio section, of course, describes the attempt at a cure. The Abbey of Thelema at Telepylus, where the treatment is administered, is declared to be a real place, and appears to be located somewhere in the isles of Greece. It takes a lot of faith to believe that the plan outlined can meet with any success.

—The Scotsman, 23 January 1923.



Well written. Too well written—the first stage is presented so alluringly as to overshadow the after horrors related. As to the salvation offered, only a wealthy addict could afford it.

—The Bookman's Guide to Fiction, August 1923.



     The return of Aleister Crowley—one of our few living poets—has been signalized by a ferocious attack from a “brother” artist on the score of morality—which philosophically is an amusing commentary on the lack of humour in this post-war epoch of “Puritanism,” which, presumably, the critic in question represents. Crowley has done most silly things in a curiously wayward life—but enough of the sinner. In this account of drugs he shows up the pathological condition produced by drug-taking and gives a pretty hideous picture of the fate of the drug fiend. There is some good writing, as might be expected, and whilst there is nothing in the book to justify a Crowley “crusade,” indeed the moral effect of his exposure is to the good, as a warning. As a picture of drug life, it is a mad document.

—The English Review, January 1923.



     The story—a true one, the preface informs us—is unsuitable for the nursery, nor would it be welcomed as a birthday present by our grandparents or our aunts. It tells of how Sir Peter Pendragon and the lady who early in the book becomes his wife took to cocaine and heroin and lived a wildly hectic life in London, Paris and Naples. Towards the end of the book they are saved—what remains of them—by their mysterious friend, Basil King Lamus, and the symphony ends (as the writers of analytical concert-programmes say) in a mood of high and sustained exaltation. We cannot agree with the author that it is “a story of hope and beauty”; the greater part is too monotonously unhealthy and morbid for that; but it is a story with a fine idea and it is written with considerable vigour.

—The Spectator, 10 January 1923.



     Many stories have been written dealing with alcoholism, but there are but few providing any adequate presentation of the various forms of drug addiction. A remarkable novel, descriptive of addiction to cocaine and heroin, has just been issued under the title of “The Diary of a Drug Fiend.” It is by Mr. Aleister Crowley, and is published by Messrs. W. Collins, Sons and Co., Ltd. (price 7s. 6d. net). It is a terrible portrayal of bondage, degradation, self-destruction through enslavement to the drug habit. The author in his preface claims that it is a true story, and certainly the moral deterioration, eroticism, emotional exaltation, and maniacal manifestations and bodily decadence brought about by persistent indulgence in cocaine is presented with vivid elaboration and an almost nauseating plethora of details. The work is a pathological study which is scarcely suited for general reading, but certainly merits the serious consideration of medical advisers and others who have to deal with the ever-increasing number of men and women who, under post-war conditions of life, seem eager to sell their souls and sacrifice mind and body for the fleeting effects of a drug addiction which means the worst form of thralldom and makes inevitably for inefficiency, disorder, and premature death.

—The British Journal of Inebriety, April 1923.



     An absorbing story of the unsuspected powers of the human will, powers that rightly directed can bring back even those who are so far enslaved by drugs that they seem utterly helpless addicts. The author claims that it is a true story, that every detail is based on facts personally known to him. Certainly the awful fascination of cocaine and heroin, the ghastly mental and moral havoc caused by drugs and the terrific struggle necessary to break off the drug life constitute an awful and solemn warning to all who would try the “snow” because it seems so attractive.

—The Bookseller, 1 July 1923.



     Unusually well written, “The Diary of a Drug Fiend,” by Aleister Crowley, which the Duttons have just published, will perforce challenge comparison with that classic of pathological literature, De Quincey’s “Confessions of an Opium Eater.” And it will come out of the comparison very well indeed.

—The Rutland Daily Herald, 12 July 1923.



     This story reads like the real thing, the actual experiences of a man and woman who were victims of the drug habit, showing the gradual disintegration of mind and shriveling of the body, until after a year they looked like an old man and woman, and, worst of all, they were dirty and unkempt, losing all sense of decency as the cruel drug did its work.

     The story goes on and on, the man and woman deciding in the beginning that, like the Christian Scientists, there is only evil when one is conscious of it, and that they, under the influence of cocaine, could soar up into the blue, regardless of everything that might have troubled them. But, of course, there came a time when the drug refused to work, and they sank as low as they had soared high.

     Finally they came under the influence of a man who had known them from the time the drug first got hold of them, and through him they were cured. “The only excuse,” he said, “for taking a drug, whether it is quinine or Epsom salts, is to assist nature to overcome some obstacle to her proper functions. The danger of the so-called habit-forming drugs is that they fool you into trying to dodge the toil essential to spiritual and intellectual development. But they are simply man traps, and it is up to us to use them wisely.”

     But both of them found out that out of the terrible experience they had gained much.

—The St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 4 August 1923.



     A book that possesses the very qualities of the drugs that it describes is Aleister Crowley’s “The Diary of a Drug Fiend.” Dazzling, exhilarating, fascinating, insidious, agonizing, terrible beyond words except those of a master writer, and dangerous. A book that you wouldn’t miss reading yourself for anything, and yet the kind that you feel ought to be suppressed, if you are one of the believers in censorship.

     It is a true story disguised as a novel, and it is a story with a purpose. The story itself isn’t dangerous, it is the avowed purpose that is a bit staggering to any but those who are extremists in the personal liberty theory. This purpose is to create supermen by the process of encouraging the use, perhaps the abuse, and the final conquest of habit forming drugs. It is the story of a newly wedded pair, darlings of the gods in every material sense, so pampered that one has failed to find, and the other has drifted away from the fulfillment of their “true wills.” They slip thoughtlessly into the indulgence in a little cocaine. They are swept off their feet by the ecstasy of it. There follows a “cocaine honeymoon” which carries the reader with a rush up in the clouds through days of hectic joy. Then the other side of the picture, when they have returned London, physical wrecks, deprived of both cocaine and heroin; the unspeakable suffering and degradation into which they sink; their utter surrender to drugs: and their demonical efforts to procure them; and finally comes the cure.

     It is the last part of the volume devoted to the story of the cure that Aleister Crowley airs his theories and his philosophies. It is here that you get to know the author. Frank Crowninshield, editor of Vanity Fair writes of him that he is “one of the extraordinary Britishers—poet, explorer, mountain climber, adept in esoteric philosophy. As a naked yogi he has sat for days under the Indian sun begging his rice. . . . Like every true magician he has experimented with hundreds of strange poisons.” And in this colorful, exotic, incense-ladened, portion of the book, a great deal that Mr. Crowley has lived, is experienced vicariously by the reader.

     The young people of the story are cured, not so much by the material method of diminished doses, but by the orientation of their inner selves to a goal, an ideal in life: by the building up of purposes, and the will to do the things that they discover they were meant to do. So far so good. But when they are about to leave the abbey where their cure has been effected, they receive the following advice—

     “The taking of a drug should be a carefully thought out, a purposeful religious act. Experience alone can teach you the right conditions in which the act is legitimate, that is when it assists you to do your will. . . . A golfer would be very foolish to leave his mashie out of his bag because at one time he got too fond of it and used it improperly, and lost matches in consequence. Now in regard to you and Lou, I can’t see that she has any particular occasion for using these drugs. She can do her will perfectly well without them. But there may be occasions in your work when a little more could be added to your energy by a judicious dose of cocaine and the cumulative forces of inertia overcome by a little heroin. . . .” This is probably the part that made “The Diary of a Drug Fiend” a storm centre in London, and caused some critics to cry “Burn the Book” while others call it a work of genius that will rank with DeQuincey’s “Confessions of an Opium Eater.”

—The Illinois State Journal, 19 August 1923.



     One who is not expert in the effects of cocaine, heroin and morphine completes the reading of this book in some doubt as to how to pass judgment upon it.

     For while in the form of fiction The Diary of a Drug Fiend is primarily a picture of the effects of narcotics upon the human body and mind: the first part of it being concerned with the acquiring of the habit: the second with the almost satiable demands, and the third with the cure.

     And here another doubt enters. The cure here is effected in an ancient monastery supposedly somewhere in Italy. The author assures the reader that all the facts in the volume are true.

     Is it then only a disguised tract for King Lamus, the master mind of the book, and the head of this cult?

     Certainly the author has omitted nothing in his descriptions of the luridness and excitement of the experiences of Peter Pendragon and Lou on their wild cocaine honeymoon in Paris. It is a narcotic debauch—nothing more nor less.

     They rush from one excitement to another. Hours, days, weeks mean nothing to them while they take increasingly heavy doses of “snow.” Wilder and wilder become their experiences.

     But then comes the inevitable time when no amount of heroin can stir the jaded nerves or fill the mind with masterful dreams. Back to London our young people go, and sodden and hopeless indeed is the misery which overtakes them.

     Hovering in the background, however, is the figure of King Lamus, both kindly and sinister, but at all times masterful and with an uncanny ability to read the minds of others. An exotic atmosphere accompanies him wherever he goes, as well as predominates in his home.

     It is he who comes to the rescue of the Pendragons when life has become an insupportable and desperate quest for more and still more narcotics.

     In the quiet of the monastery, far removed from the hurry and complexities of modern civilization, Peter and Lou are able again to build life on a normal basis and see the possibility for real happiness open to them.

     This bare outline of the book does not do justice to the interest which The Diary of a Drug Fiend arouses.

     But one cannot escape the feeling that much of it is unreal: perhaps because most of its characters are living in an unreal world.

     The book is said to have caused a sensation in London. Perhaps that was because of its open charge of the prevalence of the narcotic habit in high social circles there. It gives the impression that the hunt for these stimulants is now the great social outdoor sport.

—The Fresno Bee, 1 September 1923.








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