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3rd Edition—2004

Edited by J. Walter Driscoll

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This edition of the Gurdjieff Reading Guide contains a retrospective anthology of fifty-two articles, some originally published here, and others dating as far back as 1919. These provide an independent survey of the literature by or about George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff (1866?-1949) and offer a wide range of informed opinion (admiring, critical and contradictory) about him, his activities, writings, philosophy, and influence.

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You have no business to believe me.
I ask you to believe nothing that you cannot verify for yourself. . .
If you have not a critical mind, your visit here is useless.
1

G.I. Gurdjieff

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Am I for or against Gurdjieff? Both, of course, as one is for and against God, for and against oneself, for and against one's life. Hagiography is a different thing. It matters not who is shocked. If everything was clear there would have been only one explanation, one moral code, one faith, for the last hundred thousand years. Or, more exactly, there would be no faith. Read Ouspensky and say whether you are for or against him. To my mind, those who swallow the Gurdjievian cosmogony whole, and those who reject it out of hand, are equally wrong and, above all, equally superficial. Those who study Gurdjieff, alive or dead, without either fear or respect, are equally naive. From such a man one takes and rejects, one is both wary and receptive. One struggles with him. To struggle with Gurdjieff (and not against him) is to understand him, to know him, and, in the end, to love him.
As for putting him on a pedestal, especially after his death, that is the most sinister trick that well-meaning Gurdjieffians could possibly play on him. That is to show true disrespect.
 

Pierre Schaeffer, Paris, 1954
From The Old Man and His Movements. Page 10, herein.



 

 

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Contents

Thirty-two primary articles — linked to Part One of the table of Contents — provide accounts of perceptive encounters with Gurdjieff as well as knowledgeable analysis of his writings, philosophy and influence. A synoptic introduction and bibliography of English-Language translations of Gurdjieff's writings (The Art of G. I. Gurdjieff) is complemented by a selective bibliography of the literature about him, (Gurdjieff: the Secondary Literature); both are updated for this 3rd edition. Twenty additional, ancillary articles are linked to Part Two of the table of Contents. These offer important supplementary details about Gurdjieff, his writings, philosophy and influence. All fifty-two articles (about 700 pages), are also linked to their descriptive citations in the selective bibliography, Gurdjieff: the Secondary Literature.

 

Part One

Primary Articles

The Man In Question James Moore
Moore's cameo confirms that "the Gurdjieffian enigma is here to stay"

 

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Gurdjieff — Encounters

Gurdjieff's Being and KnowledgeP. D. Ouspensky
Soon after meeting Gurdjieff in 1915 Moscow, Ouspensky concluded that he " was a genius in his own domain, that he scarcely had to learn, that what he knew could not be learned and that none of us could hope to expect to become like him."

Journey Through Georgia, 1919-1920C. E. Bechhofer Roberts
Roberts, sceptical but admiring observations provide the first published account in English about Gurdjieff, who gave Roberts an insider's tour of Tiflis (Tbilisi).

A Visit to GourdyevDenis Saurat
Saurat's weekend visit to the Prieur'e in February 1923 provides contradictory impressions of Gurdjieff (Gourdyev) who appears alternately contemptuous, provocative, irritable then finally serious and "extraordinarily courteous."

"Not a Cult"P. D. Ouspensky
E. C. Bowyer's Feb., 1923 interview provides a vivid glimpse of Ouspensky's attitude then, towards Gurdjieff and his Institute.

Katherine Mansfield at Fontainebleau
Excerpts from KM's letters & journals, accounts of her at Fontainebleau, by A. R. Orage, Olgivanna Hinzenberg, and Adele Kafian; and two biographical studies by James Moore. (Posted April 2006)

La Machine - CourageGeorgette Leblanc
Leblanc attended Gurdjieff's Institute in the 1920s. In the 1930s, she was a member of his 'Rope' group with Margaret Anderson, Jane Heap, Kathryn Hulme and others. Her diaries provide a unique portrait of Gurdjieff.

Gurdjieff: the Unknown ManKenneth Walker M.D.
Walker's vivid account of his first visits to Gurdjieff's Paris apartment in the late 1940s, is distinguished by his keenly trained powers of observation.

The Old Man and His MovementsPierre Schaeffer
Pierre Schaeffer's account of Gurdjieff in the 1940s, offers an exceptional convergence of astute observation, heartfelt experience, and literary merit.

 

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Gurdjieff — Writings

G. Gurdjieff's Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man.
The 1922 Prospectus for Gurdjieff's Institute describes the program there as "practically the continuation of the Society that went under the name of the "Seekers after Truth" . . . founded in 1895."

Gurdjieff's AphorismsKenneth Walker
"Gurdjieff had the capacity to convey so much in some forceful saying that his words echoed for a long time in the hearers' minds. A great deal of the force in G's maxims was imparted by the man who uttered them.

Two Collections of Notes from Gurdjieff Meetings in Paris
1—Thirteen Meetings from 1941, 1943 and 1944, 68p
Contents
Text
2— Eight meetings from 1943, 1944, and 1946, 39p
Contents and Text  

Gurdjieff's All and EverythingJ. G. Bennett
Bennett grapples with the contradiction of trying to elucidate a "book that defies verbal analysis" and concludes that Beelzebub's Tales is an epoch-making work that represents the first new mythology in 4000 years.

Beelzebub's Tales: CommentaryT. W. Owens & S. D. Smith.
"Despite all the inherent difficulties which Gurdjieff has implanted in the book . . . the rewards are there also. But in keeping with Gurdjieff's philosophy, the rewards are commensurate with the reader's struggle to find them."

Meetings with Remarkable Men: CommentaryT. W. Owens
"It is an adventure of the mind — growing, being formed, setting out after inner knowledge, discovering it and putting it to the test of practice."

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The Art of G. I. GurdjieffJ. Walter Driscoll

An introduction, bibliography and synopsis of Gurdjieff's English-language writings with notes on his music and movements exercises.
 

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Gurdjieff — Philosophy

EssentialsA.R. Orage
These extraordinary fragments introduce Orage's vision, of the potential for a conscious development of being, that was profoundly influenced by Gurdjieff.

A Socialist Meets Mr. GurdjieffRoland Kenny
Kenney describes how the study of Gurdjieff's ideas altered his view of large-scale social change, and concludes that social progress must be the indirect result of individual efforts to achieve self-knowledge and inner growth.

The Revelation in QuestionJames Moore
An exceptionally precise and discerning synopsis of Gurdjeff's key ideas.

Gurdjieff's Philosophy of NatureBasarab Nicolescu
A particle-physicist's bold exploration of the relationship between Gurdjieff's cosmological mythos and leading theories in physics and cosmology.

Disenchantment of the DragonMartha Heyneman
A penetrating essay that links the symbolic structures of the Arthurian legend cycle, mythic elements underlying Beelzebub's Tales and wisdom that transforms rather than slays the Dragon.

 

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Gurdjieff — Influence


Gurdjieff: the Secondary LiteratureJ. W. Driscoll
An introductory bio-bibliographic sketch and selective annotated bibliography with detailed entries that describe key writings about Gurdjieff and provide links to all on-site articles.

The EnneagramJames Moore
Moore winnows the grain from the chaff in this discriminating examination of Gurdjeff's problematic and best-known symbol.

A Biographer DigressesJames Moore
Moore's observations about prominent figures in the Gurdjieffian pantheon are interwoven with an account of meetings with Jesse Orage, and form a prelude to the undertaking of his 1991 biography Gurdjieff: Anatomy of a Myth.

Gurdjieffian Confessions: a self remembered.  — A memoir by James Moore
Reviewed by J. Walter Driscoll, with excerpts from the book and links to additional off-site reviews. (Posted July 2006)



Part Two

Ancillary Articles

 

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Gurdjieff's — Encounters

New Cult: Forest Temple of Hard Work and Rough Food — E. C. Boyer, a London journalist, spent a week in February 1923 visiting Gurdjieff's Institute. He describes events there, and interviews with Gurdjieff, Orage and Ouspensky. Parts of this series shared front-page coverage with excavations of Tutankhamen’s tomb.
Daily News Feb 1923 — full page scans Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5, Page 6
Digital Transcription (for ease of reading)

The Forest Philosophers C. E. Bechhofer Roberts made several visits to Gurdieff's Institute and concludes that he "preferred to remain an intimate and disinterested spectator."

Some Memories of the Prieur'e — Dr. Mary C. Bell reminisces during a visit to Paris in 1949 and sketches her visits to the Prieur'e between December 1923 and September 1924.

The "Forest Philosophers" — Clifford Sharpe provides an informed account of Gurdjieff's Institute.

An Experiment at Fontainebleau — Dr. James C. Young describes Ouspensky's lectures in London and his own practical experiences with Gurdjieff at Fontainebleau. Young also sketches what led to his decision to leave Gurdjieff's Institute.

Personality and Power — Shaw Desmond's idiosyncratic 1940s pop-psychology theories frame his brief encounter with Gurdjieff.

Letter from Paris — Janet Flanner reports the death of Gurdjieff, "One of the most mysterious, eccentric, and discussed modern mystics" and sketches his "legendary life."

On the Death of Gurdjieff — Solita Solano's open letters of October-November, 1949 describing events of the days before and after Gurdjieff's death, up to the funeral.

 

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Gurdjieff — Writings


Beelzebub's Tales in Gurdjieff's All and Everything — Gorham Munson predicts that "at first All and Everything will not make much of a stir . . . but I believe it will endure, attract more and more readers and prove a rich source for future writers."

Regarding Beelzebub's Tales — Professor Dennis Saurat comments on first reading Gurdjieff's book.

 

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Gurdjieff — Philosophy

Gurdjieff and Mysticism — Mohammad-H. Tamdgidi's recent Ph. D in Sociology provides an original critical assessment of Gurdjeff's system and what Tamdgidi believes went wrong with it.

 

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Gurdjieff — Influence

Gurdjieff and Prince Ozay — Gurdjieff was a man of many masks. Professor Paul Beekman Taylor examines the evidence surrounding whether or not the character 'Prince Ozay' in Paul Dukes' autobiography The Unending Quest, was in fact, Gurdjieff.

 

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By A. R. ORAGE

Are We Awake? — Orage considers sleep and waking as facts and as metaphors of our psychological and spiritual condition.

Economising Our Energy — Orage examines how we loose so much of our physical, mental and emotional energy each day, and makes suggestions about how it can be economised for the purpose of conscious development.

On Religion — Orage views religion as an ancient science that possessed the now lost art of self-observation.

On Love — Orage advises that we "learn to distinguish among at least three kinds of love� instinctive love, emotional love, and conscious love."

About Orage

Orage in America — Gorham Munson's vivid account of Orage's catalytic influence in the U.S. during his years as Gurdjieff's representative in New York City between 1924 and 1931.

A. R. Orage: Introduction and Bibliography
J. Walter Driscoll sketches Orage's political interests, literary influence, and relationship with Gurdjieff.

About P. D. Ouspensky

In Anti-Bolshevist Russia — C. E. Bechhofer Roberts was stranded in the Caucasus for several days during the Russian revolution with Ouspensky. Over a bottle of vodka, Ouspensky engagingly relates some of his light-hearted Moscow and Essentuki adventures.

The Case of P. D. Ouspensky — Marie Seton was Ouspensky's secretary and confidante during the 1940s. Although convinced of his goodness and honesty, she writes pointedly about the corrupting influence of being a guru.

1 "If you have not by nature a critical mind, your staying here is useless." (Aphorism # 27, p. 283.) "You have no business to believe me. I ask you to believe nothing that you cannot verify for yourself." (p. 78). Views from the Real World: Early Talks of Gurdjieff. (1973)

Gurdjieff: a Reading Guide 3rd Edition. Contents outline and annotations
Copyright - 2004, 2006 — J. Walter Driscoll



 

Never forget that every stick has two ends.
The devil can lead you to paradise, and God, directly to Hell.

G.I. Gurdjieff

All material on this site is protected by copyright.
Gurdjieff sketch on heading page © T. W. Owens 1999