Phil Baker "Dennis Wheatley" lecture in 2016

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Darren
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Phil Baker "Dennis Wheatley" lecture in 2016

Postby Darren » Sat 5 Dec, 2015 19:18:40

Hi folks,

The illustrious DW biographer, Phil Baker, is giving a lecture on DW to the Dracula Society on 12th March 2016.

I used to be a member of the Dracula Society when I lived in London in the early 90s, and they were great social evenings, usually in a private room in a central London pub, with loads of London ale consumed. :smt030

I don't know where exactly this particular meeting is but I might rejoin the Dracula Society just to get to this event.

http://www.thedraculasociety.org.uk/society-events.html

And look at their event in January!!!! It's a Christopher Lee tribute evening!!! And they are showing TDRO film!!!!! WOW!!! What a great start to the New Year. Where's my debit card? - I'm joining. :smt041
Regards,

Darren.

shanedwyer
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Postby shanedwyer » Mon 14 Dec, 2015 12:57:23

Those events do look like a lot of fun. And, naturally enough, a talk on DW by PB sounds doubly appealing. I may well stump up the membership fees just to attend that.

I love the novel Dracula too. It's one of the few horror novels I've read that I didn't find crass and boring.

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Postby Darren » Mon 14 Mar, 2016 14:04:52

Hi folks,

"The Devil is a Gentleman, A talk on Dennis Wheatley by Phil Baker at the Dracula Society March Meeting."

Shane and I met at the Barley Mow on Horseferry Road, London, last Saturday nght at 5.30pm where we caught up on most things gothic and then at 6.30pm went upstairs to the function room and joined the Dracula Society meeting where we were made most welcome by a friendly bunch of gothic horror literary enthusiasts. And not a "Goth" in sight.

Phil Baker's talk began just after 8pm following a buffet meal and much chit chat - although as I have currently lost my voice due to a recent illness I didn't get up to much "chat", just a lot of listening, a skill which, as I was with Shane, was quite useful to have.

I won't go into detail about Phil's talk. It is the same riveting talk that has already been discussed elsewhere on this forum - Steve Whatley's excellent review of the talk in 2010 covers it exactly: viewtopic.php?t=269

In his long (but fun) introduction he set up the cultural background of the 60s and early 70s that provided the ideal circumstances for audiences enjoying the hint of eroticism in DW's black magic novels. Phil Baker mentioned that Professor John Sutherland (Academic specilising in Victorian fiction) when asked what the most erotic book he had ever read confessed that reading Wheatley "could always make me lively around the groin" and that Matthew Parris (Times' columnist) answered the same question with "I used to find Dennis Wheatley's satanic stuff very exciting." As Matthew Parris is gay this is an example of the broad appeal for Wheatley's writing at that time.

Phil Baker did state that he no longer keeps up to date with DW progress - he lived with the subject for 10 years and that is enough, so he still pushes that the Montague Summers archives are in Canada. But we now know they have been acquired by Georgetown University and are awaiting the official archiving process (copies of letters from DW to MS from the Georgetown Archive were displayed at the last DW convention).

There was an enjoyable discussion in the question and answer session about the hint of group sex in DW's black magic books that members of the audience confessed to enjoying in their youth and a member brought up La-Bas (Down There) by Joris K. Huysmans (publisjed 1891) followed by a knowledgable discussion between questioner and Phil Baker. Curiously Shane had discussed this book with me before the meeting - it is one his favourite horror novels.

Phil Baker adopted a relaxed conversational style and seemed to be enjoying his talk, and was generous with his time to talk to individuals afterwards. It was a pity I couldn't partake as I had no voice. :-#
Regards,



Darren.

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Postby Darren » Mon 14 Mar, 2016 16:10:14

Another interesting theme Phil pushed was how well connected DW was with cutting edge defence politics. He used The Ka of Gifford Hillary as an example. The novel is is clearly pro-atomic weapon as the future of UK defence policy and he heavily pushes the pro-arguments in the novel with the need for heavy reductions in the armed forces personnel to pay for it. The novel came out in 1956, as though preparing the public for the 1957 Defence White Paper in which the British Army was reorganised to be reduced in size to "keep the Army abreast of changing circumstances, policies, weapons and techniques of war".

Interesting stuff.
Regards,



Darren.

Steve Whatley
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Postby Steve Whatley » Wed 16 Mar, 2016 23:13:47

Sounds like an interesting evening; glad you had Shane there to keep you company.

Did you meet any other DW fanatics (potential new recruits)?

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Postby Darren » Sat 19 Mar, 2016 11:48:27

Most of them were quite knowledgeable and passionate about DW, Steve, so we can expect about 30 more attending this year. :smt040
Regards,



Darren.

shanedwyer
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Postby shanedwyer » Mon 21 Mar, 2016 13:17:39

Yes, it was a very pleasant evening indeed. It certainly made a change from Netflix.

And, for those of you who haven't yet had the pleasure, I can't recommend Là-bas enough.


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