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Masks of the Illuminati
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Masks of the Illuminati

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  1,362 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Young and wealthy Englishman Sir John Babcock has discovered that an ancient criminal order is preparing to take over the world. He seeks the help of two brilliant, yet unlikely, drinking buddies--James Joyce and Albert Einstein--the only people genius enough to uncover the wretched scheme!.
Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 1st 1981 by Pocket Books (first published 1981)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,682)
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Andrew Schwartz
A clever metaphysical detective story masquerading as a Gothic horror, this book casts James Joyce and Albert Einstein as its super-sleuths, with the two trading off the roles of Sherlock Holmes and Watson as the plot demands it. The sinister Aleister Crowley is also integral to the plot, acting as their Moriarty-like foil.

Though set in pre-WWI Europe, this novel shares many themes and concepts with Wilson's other works (generally set in the mid-to-late twentieth century.) There is the familiar
"Who profits? Who else but the Devil?" he answered rhetorically, giving vent to the kind of unwholesome laugh that makes people move away uncomfortably.

"If you listen to seemingly dull people very closely, you'll see that they're all mad in different and interesting ways, and are merely struggling to hide it."
The mystery isn't very mysterious, and the ersatz Joyce passages are tedious, though there is some amusement in the book. Go read Wilson's Illuminatus! trilogy instead, or almost anything else he's written. I love old Bob, but this is a weaker work. (Second read, ~ 17 years after the first)
Justin Farrar
1981's 'Masks of the Illuminati' (much like the later published 'The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles') is basically a book-length footnote to 'The Illuminatus! Trilogy.' In this sense, its mix mystery and horror is basically a way for Robert Anton Wilson to flesh out some of the philosophies and schools of mystical thought that pop-up in the 'Trilogy' proper. That said, the final 25 pages are truly psychedelic. Spoiler alert: Aleister Crowley spikes the drinks of protagonists Sir John Babcock, ...more
There's really only one vein of Wilsonerei, and you either like it or you don't. I do. RAW was one of my major influences.

As a member of the species, Masks of the Illuminati is less deep and heartwrenching than the Illuminatus! trilogy, but more sound and interesting than Prometheus Rising.

This one involves Jung, Einstein, and Joyce solving an occult mystery and helping a Young Man Who Got In Over His Head. Aleister Crowley makes an appearance.

Wilson's good at fake-Joyce. I enjoy it. He's one
Probably Wilson's most straightforward novel in terms of narrative flow, but it still holds up on re-reading. Full of background information on the occult movement, and biographical details of Aleister Crowley. The passages written in the style of Joyce are well-done, and the final section is particularly memorable.
Mar 02, 2008 Ron rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who want their mindset irrevocably rewired.
Shelves: mindblowing, magickal
I read this book when I was in high school and there are passages that still keep me up late at night just thinking about them, even though the last time I read it was maybe about eight years ago. Two years ago, when the NY Times Book Review was trotting out the usual suspects for its list of the greatest novels of the late twentieth century, I said this should have been on it, and I stand by that. Easily the best, most tightly constructed novel Wilson ever wrote.

Here's an extremely short recap:
Geoff Gander
Not as overtly mind-blowing as the Illuminatus! Trilogy, but a nevertheless fun read that manages to explore early 20th century Hermeticism, psychology, and related topics.
Zulu Adams
A brilliant brain exercise disguised as a novel.

The mish-mash of ideas and the imagining of iconic figures in odd situations is a supremely fun read, and I'll probably reread it again some day. Love how he uses the gothic and conspiracy elements as a smokescreen for a practical guide to relativity.

I haven't read any RAW in years and this was a perfect reintroduction.
I don't even know. The occultist/conspiracy trend in literature from the later 20th century confuses me. On one level, this book could be valuable as a criticism of closed-mindedness or something else more elaborate than that that I don't really want to specify further at the moment. On the other hand, it could be ridiculous. At the very least, it was a fun read.
Nick Black
Oct 07, 2012 Nick Black rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Nick by: Adam Wosotowsky
Shelves: likely-reread
Not nearly as good as The Illuminatus Trilogy or The Schrodinger's Cat Trilogy, but still good wholesome fun for the whole family.
interesting reading on the illuminati, hermetic order of the golden dawn, and satanism, in general. i read this one when i had a lot of time to spare and was exploring links between the french revolution, the illuminati, the freemasons, and the idea of the new world order.
Chris Brown
Very fun read. A tad indulgent at times but, for the most part, I recommend it. You will especially like it if you are interested in secret societies, nature of reality,magic, Aleister Crowley, OTO, Golden Dawn, cabbala, poetry, relativity. It works OK as just a mystery.
Nice weird book by Mr. Wilson. In the same vein as the Illuminatus Trilogy, not as good, much weirder. Not a bad read atall, which is by the way my favorite Pacific Island.
Ayam Abraxas
Very enjoyable book featuring Albert Einstein, James Joyce, and Aleister Crowley. A bit more intellectual than Wilson's other works, but very enlightening and entertaining.
Rog Harrison
I have read this book several times over the last thirty years and it is still an enjoyable read although in places the "Joycean" passages can be a little wearing.
A good historical fiction reworking of RAW's main thematic interests. Not as good as Illuminatus or the Cat trilogies but thought provoking and well written.
Chris Meger
This book won't destroy and rebuild your brain, but it's not supposed to, good for a "I'm smarter than everyone else on the bus" kind of casual read.
The only book that pits Albert Einstein and James Joyce against the forces of darkness and conspiracy…or does it?
A puzzle of a book.
Mar 11, 2012 Laura rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Laura by: Philip K. Dick
Guerrilla Ontology for the win!

It's a rich text, and Aleister Crowley is our guide. Doesn't get much better than that.
Mike Noyes
Fascinating book. Entertaining and thought provoking, although at times it made my brain hurt.
It's been a long time since Iread this, but it's a book I've been interested in re-reading.
Sin Literate
Worth reading but not his best. Better framed if you've read a few other RAW books first.
This book scared me so much when I first read it that I've more or less blocked it out of my mind.
Dave Peticolas

Albert Einstein and James Joyce team up to investigate conspiracies. Yes.

I read this in college, and then reread it recently. Very entertaining.
fascinating, informative, entertaining, thought provoking, witty, wow.
David Shapiro
I love this book and return to it often.
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Young Adult Illuminati 1 4 Jan 17, 2014 11:45AM  
Young Adult Illuminati 1 6 Jan 17, 2014 11:45AM  
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Robert Anton Wilson became, at various times, an American novelist, essayist, philosopher, polymath, psychonaut, futurist, libertarian and self-described agnostic mystic. Recognized as an Episkopos, Pope, and Saint of Discordianism by Discordians who care to label him as such, Wilson helped publicize the group/religion/melee through his writings, interviews, and strolls.

He described his work as an
More about Robert Anton Wilson...
Prometheus Rising Schrödinger's Cat Trilogy (Schrödinger's Cat, #1-3) Cosmic Trigger: Die letzten Geheimnisse der Illuminaten oder An den Grenzen des erweiterten Bewusstseins Quantum Psychology: How Brain Software Programs You & Your World Cosmic Trigger 2: Down to Earth

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“We all see only that which we are trained to see.” 74 likes
“The normal is that which nobody quite is. If you listen to seemingly dull people very closely, you'll see that they're all mad in different and interesting ways, and are merely struggling to hide it.” 42 likes
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