Aleister Crowley; Martin P. Starr
The Teitan Press, Chicago, 1991. Hardcover. First Edition. 156 pages. Facsimile edition with introduction by Martin P. Starr. Near Fine.
One of Crowley’s rarest works: part homo-erotic parody, and part mystical text. As described in Crowley scholar Martin P. Starr’s Introduction to the 1991 facsimile edition, there were only 200 copies of the book printed, but many of these were destroyed in a customs seizure not long after publication, so that even before the beginning of the First World War Crowley was speaking of its rarity. A second customs seizure (1924) depleted the number of surviving copies yet further, and it is consequently one of Crowley’s rarest works.
“THE SCENTED GARDEN OF ABDULLAH THE SATIRIST OF SHIRAZ, often referred to by its pseudonym-prone author, Aleister Crowley, under its Persian title of Bagh-i-Muattar (abbreviated for the sake of further concealment as “B-i-M”), is among the rarest of Crowley’s first editions. Rarer still is the reader who sees anything but a huge obscene jest in the book, despite the fact that its author unhesitatingly asserted that “mystically it transcends the Bhagavat Gita and the Tao Teh King,” two books he admired greatly. His esteem for Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton, pioneer translator of Arabic and Hindu erotica and inventor of his own Sufi poet, “Hâji Abdû El-Yezdî,” unquestionably led Crowley to imitation of Burton’s work, but this book is more than a recapitulation in verse of the author’s philosophy. In addition to all the Eastern lore, occultism and facetiae with which the text is loaded, a close reading of THE SCENTED GARDEN OF ABDULLAH gives one access to part of the author’s psyche that could only find expression under a series of veils, penetrable solely by those of empathic interests or personal acquaintance. As it is so much a hidden and a closed book, a few words are in order to introduce this first facsimile edition.”