Olla. An Anthology of Sixty Years of Song. Aleister CROWLEY, Augustus John Frieda Harris.

Olla. An Anthology of Sixty Years of Song.

London: The OTO, 1946. First Edition. Hardcover. Quarto (11 1/4 x 8 3/4 inches) 128 pp. Original brown cloth with gilt lettering down spine and on upper board, which also has a gilt-stamped device: Crowley's 'mark of the Beast' sigil. Frontispiece portrait of Crowley by Augustus John. The dust jacket design includes a portrait of Crowley by Lady Frieda Harris, "artist executant" of the Thoth tarot deck. "Olla" is Crowley's own selection of his best poetry and the last of his books to be published in his own lifetime. It is arguably the most under-rated of Crowley's works: not only is some of the verse truly magical, but it shows his tremendous versatility, ranging from traditional sonnets and couplets, to the intensely romantic ("La Gitana"); the deeply magical ("An Oath" to Aiwaz), to modernist satire: his "Panacea" described by him as "an International Anthem to Anglo-Saxondom" and which simply consists of the word "Money" printed over and over again. It ends with his stirring "Hymn to Pan", a work which less than a year after the publication of this volume would be read at Crowley's funeral by fellow poet Louis Wilkinson. Coincidentally Crowley had earlier vouchsafed the meaning of the book's title, "Olla", to Wilkinson, indicating that it referred to a line in Catullus's "particularly foul" epigram "Ipsa oler olla legit" in which the word "Olla", which in conventional Latin might have translated as "vase, urn or jar" in that context is clearly used to describe the vagina. On the subject of things sexual, the front cover is adorned with the sigil known as "the mark of the Beast" which includes a front on representation of a penis and two testes, although in this instance a bindery gremlin famously saw the device stamped upside down, somewhat lessening it's effect. Due to war-time economy standards, paper rationing etc., the book did not have the production values or durability of some of Crowley's earlier works and the binders evidently used whatever cloth was to hand: the book is found in several different shades and textures of brown, and less commonly, green cloth. This copy is better than many seen: there are a few darkish lines in the cloth on the front board (these are possibly color flaws that were there from new). Corners and spine ends lightly frayed, and a few light bumps to the edges of the boards. Pages uniformly browned, otherwise a clean, fresh, tight, VG or better copy with the front panel (only) of the dust jacket, now protected behind an acetate sleeve (the front panel is worn, rubbed and heavily chipped, but preserves the Frieda Harris design and titling, which apart from the (absent) spine-titling is the only actual printed area on the otherwise white dust jacket). Item #43422

Price: $275.00