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Geoffrey Ashe The Hell-Fire Clubs: A History of Anti-Morality (Amazon.com) The Hell-Fire Clubs: A History of Anti-Morality (Amazon.co.uk) The Hell-Fire Clubs: A History of Anti-Morality (Powell's Books - new or secondhand) Originally published in 1974, *The Hell-Fire Clubs - A History of Anti-Morality* is Geoffrey Ashe's valuable study of the Knights of St. Francis a.k.a. the Monks of Medmenham - erroneously referred to these days as *The* Hell-Fire Club. This infamous mid-eighteenth century organisation of Sir Francis Dashwood, Lord Sandwich and John Wilkes amongst others was, ironically, the most tasteful, contrived and the least violent of all the groups of rich wastrels - the original Hell-Fires, or Mohocks - who roamed the streets of London and Dublin, literally raising hell. As Ashe says of the Irish Protestant gentry of the time: 'the Irish Hell-Fire groups are harder to sort out... they tended to be more frankly wicked, and sometimes more...

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The Makioka Sisters (Amazon.com) The Makioka Sisters (Amazon.co.uk) The Makioka Sisters (Powell's Books - new or secondhand) Originally published in 1943-48 (in instalments), this great novel is by the celebrated Japanese writer Tanizaki (1886-1965). It is set in pre-war Osaka/Ashiya and concerns a formerly upper class family that has fallen into decline. The writing style in this book has been labelled *realism* but there is more than that in operation here. There's something magical about the presence of the Makiokas' old-world values in a time (the 1930s) which was marked by flood and war. The Makiokas' preoccupations are very much removed from those of the heavily militarised society of the time. The characters are removed in other ways: firstly the Osaka/Ashiya region where they live is contrasted with the bustle of Tokyo; and then of course, the upper class attitudes of the family no longer match the circumstances under which...

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William Shaw Spying in Guru Land (Amazon.com) Spying in Guru Land (Amazon.co.uk) Spying in Guru Land (Powell's Books - new or secondhand) William Shaw joined several cults in Britain, without telling its members or leaders that he was a journalist. This book is the result. The issues raised here are bigger than the title of the work would suggest. There is more here than just the cult world of Britain. It definitely has international value as a fascinating piece of research. Shaw's thesis here is that the idea that people who join cults are *brainwashed* is just a myth, one inspired by society's fear of the unknown and by ex-cult members who feel wronged and come to believe in the myth in order to feel better and to not take responsibility for their own actions. So far so good. A *cult* after all, is just a religion with less followers...

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Franz Kafka The Complete Short Stories (Amazon.com) The Complete Short Stories (Amazon.co.uk) The Complete Short Stories (Powell's Books - new or secondhand) Franz Kafka's works remain as striking and as important to read after the 20th Century as they did during it. His writings came from an inner world and he wrote out of artistic compulsion: "The tremendous world I have in my head. But how free myself and free it without being torn to pieces. And a thousand times rather be torn to pieces than retain it in me or bury it. That, indeed, is why I am here, that is clear to me." This compulsion is what separates the mind of the writer from the immersed reader. Perhaps as a writer he was the reluctant nightwatchman of "At Night", in which he wrote "Someone must watch, it is said. Someone must be there." The story "The City Coat...

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Noah's Flood (Amazon.com) Noah's Flood (Amazon.co.uk) Noah's Flood (Powell's Books - new or secondhand) Over time, the Genesis 6-9 story of Noah, his Ark and the Flood has *taken on board* quite a number of different interpretations but it has also been a story that has had an affect on Western science and philosophy. The story does not begin with Genesis. The earliest written Flood story dates from Sumeria in 1600 BCE and contains the essential elements: the gods sending the Flood to try to wipe out mankind; a pious man (a king in this version) saved by revelation; and the construction of a vessel which saves him. It was probably oral folklore before being written down. Excavations in present-day Iraq have shown that the Sumerian city Shurrupak (now Tell Fara) was destroyed by flood when the Tigris and Euphrates rivers burst their banks around 2800 BCE. Like other bible...

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Louis-Ferdinand Céline Journey To The End Of The Night (Amazon.com) Journey To The End Of The Night (Amazon.co.uk) Journey To The End Of The Night (Powell's Books - new or secondhand) Louis-Ferdinand Céline was the pen-name of Louis-Ferdinand Destouches (1894-1961). Journey to the End of the Night, first published in 1932, is a semi-autobiographical novel that has been hailed as a masterpiece, with some justification. Its uninhibited, vernacular style makes it almost contemporary, perhaps even timeless. The main character (and first-person narrator) is called Ferdinand Bardamu and is the author's alter-ego. His life takes him from World War I to French Colonial Africa, to the USA and then back to France, where he becomes a doctor, practising among the poor, then later among the insane. The question of quite how much of this story is *fiction* and how much is *autobiography* becomes irrelevant from the very start of the novel,...

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A Clockwork Orange (Amazon.com) A Clockwork Orange (Amazon.co.uk) A Clockwork Orange (Powell's Books - new or secondhand) Burgess (real name Anthony Wilson, 1917-93), influenced by Finnegans Wake, invented for this semi-futuristic novel an extensive system of 'futuristic' slang to be poured forth by the narrator, a violent young street thug called Alex. The title of the book comes from some real slang, the cockney phrase *as queer as a clockwork orange*, meaning very strange indeed, guv'nor. The first time the phrase appears in the book is as the title of *another* book, one that a character has written. This is F. Alexander, a professional writer, who is attacked at random by Alex. This other *A Clockwork Orange* is a polemic against the imposition of mechanical laws (symbolized by clockwork) on human nature (symbolized by the orange, i.e. a product of nature). The young Alex does whatever he likes (rape, beat,...

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"...widespread awareness of Hebrew Qabalah in the West has often led to the mistaken belief that the Jews were the original founders of the literal Qabalah, and even that it was the Jews who first used letters as numbers... It was, in fact, the Greeks who, as early as the eighth century B.C.E., invented alphabetic numerals, the very essence of Qabalistic numerology" (preface p.xiii). Such is Kieren Barry's thesis and what follows is a very careful historical study of the origins of alphabetic symbolism . The book is "necessarily academic in style" but gives much of the relevant background history for those readers who are not familiar with the ancient world or the early Christian era. Even so, it is no book to start with if you know next to nothing about these things. He is also aware of the New Age interest in these matters and has included extensive...

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The Tomb of God (Amazon.com) The Tomb of God (Amazon.co.uk) The Tomb of God (Powell's Books - new or secondhand) Richard Andrews & Paul Schellenberger The Tomb of God - the Body of Jesus and the Solution to a 2,000-year-old Mystery Update your knowledge of the Rennes-le-Chateau mystery! What did the priest Berenger Sauniere find hidden in Rennes-le-Chateau, his parish in the South of France, in the late 19th Century? Whatever it was, it made him a rich man. Certain parchments were published a number of years ago by Gerard de Sede, purporting to be parchments that Sauniere is rumoured to have found. These are supposed to have been hidden by Antoine Bigou, resident priest at Rennes-le-Chateau at the time of the French Revolution. Andrews & Schellenberger believe that a geometric analysis of the parchments reveals that they are maps. However, the correspondence of these to twentieth century maps shows...

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Blather review to follow - here's one from Amazon in the meantime: "Harpur has presented the evidence honestly and with a charming shot of whimsy. And what has he evidenced? That the collective human (and more than human) Psyche has a sense of humour, but far too few of us mere mortals have gotten the joke yet. In this book Harpur sets out, like tawdry market wares, the irrational and comical side of Otherworldly phenomena, an aspect which is so frequently neglected in the popular literature on the Occult. But Harpur isn't setting out to poke fun at us mortals, nor is he pulling our leg. Instead he is trying to awaken us to the playful and comedic aspects of the Anima Mundi, the World Soul, from which springs phenomena as diverse as UFOs, elf-shot, Virgins of all faiths, phantasmic Social Workers, Men-In-Black and the playful dead. "Revealed within are...