Rather unbidden, Keith Richmond of Teitan Press offered to send me a copy of The Progradior Correspondence to review. This book collects letters to Frater Progradior, known in the outer as Frank Bennett, from Aleister Crowley and many people in his circle.
I’m not going to pontificate too much on this topic – despite my secret membership in the OTO, I don’t have great knowledge of Aleister Crowley. I’ve read a few of his books over the years, along with Sutin’s biography, and I have a basic knowledge of his philosophy and the outline of his life. Nonetheless, you won’t find me collecting the works of or seeking out rarities of a man who, by my judgment, was really bright but tended to objectify the people around him.
Bennett was a student of Crowley’s from early years in London. He moved to Australia and dropped out of contact with Aleister for a while, picking up the acquaintance when Crowley’s Ordo Templi Orientis was just beginning. He became a loyal Thelemite, until the letters petered out – as so often happened with Crowley’s followers, it seems that the Beast asked Bennett for too much too often. (I was particularly struck with the “Hey! Things are screwed up at Cefalu! Come over here and help!” communique.)
This handsome book collects the correspondence sent to Bennett by Aleister Crowley, Leah Hirsig, Charles Robert Stansfeld Jones, Norman Mudd, and others. Bennett’s own side of the correspondence is mostly lacking, and gaps in the collected letters leave us with an incomplete picture. Nonetheless, the correspondence really brings the participants to life in the way that biographical works can hardly do.
I should also note that this seems to be a companion volume to a work entitled Progradior and the Beast, which I have not seen.
I recommend this book for people more interested in Crowley than I am, and those interested in the history of the OTO and the Thelemic movement.