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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 220 pages of information about The Magician.
how I came to think of writing that particular novel at all.  When, a little while ago, my publisher expressed a wish to reissue it, I felt that, before consenting to this, I really should read it again.  Nearly fifty years had passed since I had done so, and I had completely forgotten it.  Some authors enjoy reading their old works; some cannot bear to.  Of these I am.  When I have corrected the proofs of a book, I have finished with it for good and all.  I am impatient when people insist on talking to me about it; I am glad if they like it, but do not much care if they don’t.  I am no more interested in it than in a worn-out suit of clothes that I have given away.  It was thus with disinclination that I began to read The Magician.  It held my interest, as two of my early novels, which for the same reason I have been obliged to read, did not.  One, indeed, I simply could not get through.  Another had to my mind some good dramatic scenes, but the humour filled me with mortification, and I should have been ashamed to see it republished.  As I read The Magician, I wondered how on earth I could have come by all the material concerning the black arts which I wrote of.  I must have spent days and days reading in the library of the British Museum.  The style is lush and turgid, not at all the sort of style I approve of now, but perhaps not unsuited to the subject; and there are a great many more adverbs and adjectives than I should use today.  I fancy I must have been impressed by the ecriture artiste which the French writers of the time had not yet entirely abandoned, and unwisely sought to imitate them.

Though Aleister Crowley served, as I have said, as the model for Oliver Haddo, it is by no means a portrait of him.  I made my character more striking in appearance, more sinister and more ruthless than Crowley ever was.  I gave him magical powers that Crowley, though he claimed them, certainly never possessed.  Crowley, however, recognized himself in the creature of my invention, for such it was, and wrote a full-page review of the novel in Vanity Fair, which he signed ‘Oliver Haddo’.  I did not read it, and wish now that I had.  I daresay it was a pretty piece of vituperation, but probably, like his poems, intolerably verbose.

I do not remember what success, if any, my novel had when it was published, and I did not bother about it much, for by then a great change had come into my life.  The manager of the Court Theatre, one Otho Stuart, had brought out a play which failed to please, and he could not immediately get the cast he wanted for the next play he had in mind to produce.  He had read one of mine, and formed a very poor opinion of it; but he was in a quandary, and it occurred to him that it might just serve to keep his theatre open for a few weeks, by the end of which the actors he wanted for the play he had been obliged to postpone would be at liberty.  He put mine on.  It was an immediate success.  The result of this

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