Apocalypse 1917: Esoteric Modernism and the War in Aleister Crowley’s Moonchild

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This article explores the apocalyptic fervor of 1917 as a context for the rise of the esoteric modernism of W. B Yeats and Aleister Crowley, paying special attention to the contributions of Crowley’s Moonchild to a specifically modernist form of esoteric fiction. Moonchild featured a modernist synthesis of ritual, transpersonal epistemology, experimental prose, and a play of competing popular genres in a contemplative fiction that continued to impact twentieth-century culture well beyond the death of its author. This literature turned to communications with spirit entities and to ritual magic to reveal spiritual interpretations of a world in which the flux of modernity augured technologically sophisticated war as a permanent state of affairs, the world of 1917.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-119
Number of pages22
JournalModernist Cultures
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Music
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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