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Ouspensky, P[ytor] D[emianovich] (1878–1947)
(Uspensky/Uspenski, Petr D.)

 

A Chronological English Language Bibliography

 

J. Walter Driscoll
 

Tertium Organum:

The Third Canon of Thought, a Key to the Enigmas of the World.

[Russian edition 1, 1912.  English. Edition 1] translated from the Russian [1916, edition 2] by Nicolas Bessaraboff and Claude Bragdon,  Rochester, Manas Press, 1920, 344p. [U.S. edition 2,] New York: Knopf, 1922; [British Edition 2,] London: Kegan Paul Trench, Trubner, 1934.  Edition 3, New York: Knopf, 1945, 306p.  A revised translation by Eugenie Kadloubovsky and the author, limited edition of 21 copies, Cape Town: Stourton Press, 1950, 192p.  An Abridgement of P. D. Ouspensky’s ‘Tertium Organum’ by Fairfax Hall, Cape Town: Stourton Press, 1961, 276p.  New York: Vintage-Random, 1970, 298p. ISBN 0-3947-5168-X (pb).  Revised translation by E. Kadloubovsky and the author, New York: Knopf, 1981, 298p., index.;  London: Routledge, 1981, 298p., ISBN 0-7100-7659-2 (pb); Book Jungle, 2005, 360p., ISBN 1-5946-2017-2 (tdpb). The 1922 Edition is posted at:  www.sacred-texts.com/eso/to/index.htm

 

This bold, complex first book earned Ouspensky an appreciative audience among the Russian avant-garde and internationally after its English translation in 1920.  An enduring independent work, Tertium Organum has been compared to two important turn-of-the-century mystical tracts which Ouspensky frequently quotes, Maurice Bucke’s Cosmic Consciousness (1901), and William James’ Varieties of Religious Experience (1902).

 

Ouspensky’s experiences of altered states—he called it “experimental mysticism”—convinced him that a different mode of thought was the necessary next stage in human evolution.  It would have to be radically different from the two traditional Western modes, the Classical, and the Positivistic, which have dominated Euro-American thinking since Aristotle and Bacon.  Claude Bragdon’s introduction to his 1922 translation put it concisely:

Ouspensky reveals at a stroke that astounding audacity which characterizes his thought throughout—an audacity which we are accustomed to associate with the Russian mind in all its phases.  Such a title says, in effect: ‘Here is a book which will reorganize all knowledge.  The Organon of Aristotle formulated the laws under which the subject thinks; the Novum Organum of Bacon, the laws under which the object may be known; but The Third Canon of Thought existed before these two, and ignorance of its laws does not justify their violation. Tertium Organum shall guide and govern human thought henceforth.’

Ouspensky draws on panoramic ideas from the teachings of Eastern and Western mysticism for inspiration, and on examples of both sacred art and scientific thought, to frame a vision that transcends materialism and positivist thought.  The first Russian edition was published in 1912, the same year Gurdjieff arrived in Moscow and three years before Ouspensky and Gurdjieff met.  During one of their early conversations in 1915, Gurdjieff acknowledged having read Tertium Organum, then quipped;

If you understood everything you have read in your life, you would already know what you are looking for now.  If you understood everything you have written in your own book . . . Tertium Organum I should come and bow down to you and beg you to teach me. 

Ouspensky published the second edition in 1916, about a year after he began attending every one of Gurdjieff’s lectures that he could. 

~ * ~

The Symbolism of the Tarot:

Philosophy of Occultism in Pictures and Numbers.

 

[Edition 1] translated by A. L. Pogossky.  St Petersburg: The Trood Printing and Publishing Co., 1913, softbound wraps printed in red and black. 8vo. 65 + (1)pp.; New York: Dover, 1976, 63p., ISBN 0-4862-3291-3 (tdpb); London: Universal Books, 1985, ISBN 0-908240-78-3 (hc); Lightning Source Inc., ISBN 0-7661-0478-8 (pb). 

Ouspensky revised this illustrated essay for publication in The New Model of the Universe(1931).  He discusses the history of the Tarot deck, provides colour reproductions of the 22 major arcana, and interprets their symbolism.  

~ * ~

Strange Life of Ivan Osokin: A Novel.

 

First published in St Petersburg, 1915 as Kinedrama. [Translated by the author.] Limited edition of 356 copies, London: Stourton, 1947, 179p.; New York and London; Holme, 1947, 166p.; London: Faber & Faber, 1948; New York: Hermitage House, 1955, 166p., this  Hermitage edition was also issued by University Books, New Hyde Park, N.Y., in their dust jacket; London: Faber & Faber, 1971, 204p.  With a foreword by J[ohn] P[entland], Baltimore: Penguin, 1971 (Penguin Metaphysical Library), 204p.. ISBN 0-14-00-3366-1 (mmpb); London: Routledge, 1983, (pb); London & New York: Arkana, 1987, 162p., ISBN 0-1401-9058-9 (tdpb); Steiner Books, 2002, (pb);  UK: Floris / Lindisfarne Books,  2002, 192p., ISBN 1-5842-0005-7; Kessinger, 2004, ISBN 1-4179-5010-2 (tdpb); 

 

Written in 1905, Ouspensky’s novel is based on his vision of Time and “eternal recurrence”, by which he meant that unless one awakens, one is reborn to the same identity and circumstances, perpetually repeating the same mechanical life.  Osokin is an unfortunate, a disenchanted outsider who comes to see his entire life as a repetitive cycle from which he is desperate to escape.  The last chapter powerfully portrays the shock of possible awakening.

~ * ~

Talks with a Devil.

 

First published in Russian, 1916. Translated by Katya Petroff, edited with an introduction by J. G. Bennett.  Northhamptonshire: Turnstone, 1972, 155p., ISBN 0-85500-004-X (hc); New York: Knopf, 1973, 176p.; York Beach: Weiser, 2000, 176p., ISBN 1-57863-164-5 (tdpb). 

Two extended stories, The Inventor, and The Benevolent Devil, in which Ouspensky explores the costs and consequences of struggling to awaken from appearances to reality.  He regarded these as immature work and refused to translate them to English.

~ * ~

Letters from Russia 1919.

 

Translated by Paul Leon, introduction by Fairfax Hall.  London: Routledge and Kegan, Paul, 1978, 59p., ISBN 0-7100-0077-4 (tdpb);  London and New York: Penguin/Arkana, 1991, 59p., ISBN 0-14-019293-X (tdpb). 

 

In 1919 Ouspensky was living in horrific war conditions in southern Russia near the Crimea.  He somehow found a way to send a series of five letters describing his circumstances, to his acquaintance, A. R. Orage, who published them that summer, in The New Age.  An Epilogue contains C. E. Bechhofer’s light-hearted account of a week-long visit with Ouspensky who then lived above a barn and some evenings, regaled guests by serving vodka he had distilled.  Fairfax Hall was a close follower of Ouspensky and established Stourton Press to publish the earliest private editions of Ouspensky’s work.  

~ * ~

A New Model of the Universe:

Principles of the Psychological Method
in Its Application to Problems of Science, Religion and Art.

 

Translated with the author by R. R. Merton, New York: Knopf, 1931; London: Routledge, 1931, 544p.  Edition 2, London: Routledge, 1934.  Edition 2 Revised, New York: Knopf, 1934, 476 + XI p., index.  Edition 3,  London: Routledge, 1938, 554p., index; New York: Knopf, 1938, 554p., index.  Edition 2 reprinted, New York: Vintage Books, 1971, 476 + XI p. index, ISBN 0-394-71524-1 (tdpb).   Edition 3 reprinted several times by Routledge and by Knopf, then more recently, London: Arkana, 1984, 554p., ISBN 0-14-01-9042-2 (tdpb); Mineola, NY: Dover, 1997, 554p., ISBN 0-486-29701-2 (tdpb). Print-by-demand [undetermined editions], Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publishing, 1999, 572p., ISBN 0-7661-0822-8, (tdpb); BookSurge, 2006, ISBN: 1-4196-5161-7 (pb); Kessinger has recently issued most chapters of this and other of Ouspensky’s books, as individual booklets.   Their website details the source for each title: www.kessinger.net

 

A diverse collection of 12 extended and often penetrating essays, some were first published singly in Russia before Ouspensky escaped in 1917.  He translated these pieces for English publication to account for his research since the 1920 publication of Tertium Organum in English, and to attract attention to his lectures.  Topics include, esotericism, the fourth dimension, Christianity, the Tarot, Yoga, Dreams & Hypnosis, Experimental mysticism & drugs, Cosmology, Sex, and Eternal Recurrence.

~ * ~

Six Psychological Lectures: 1934–1940.

 

London: privately printed edition of 125 sets of signatures to be distributed by the author’s Historico-Psychological Society, 1940, 90p.   Fifty copies were bound but only a few distributed privately and none were sold.  Posthumously published in five lectures—with the second and third lectures combined, as

 

The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution.

 

New York: Hedgehog Press, 1950, 98p.; London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1951, 95p., index; New York: Knopf, 1954, 114p.; New York: Bantam, 1968, 99p. (mmpb).   Edition 2 enlarged, introductory note [by John Pentland], New York: Knopf, 1974, 128p., ISBN 394 48755 9 (hc), ISBN 0-394 71943 3 (pb), contains “Notes on the Decision to Work” and a previously unpublished autobiographical note, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978, 95p., contains Ouspensky’s 1945 introduction.  [Edition 3] New York: Random House, 1981, 128 p.  This paperback edition contains a new publisher’s note, two selections in the second edition are replaced by a lecture of Sep. 23, 1937 in which Ouspensky discloses that he “parted from Mr. G” when he saw that Gurdjieff did not intend to establish a stable centre for the work.  “I saw that his work was going to crash, and I parted with him in order to save the work in London.”  The five Psychological lectures were reissued in a combined volume as The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution and The Cosmology of Man’s Possible Evolution.  A limited edition of the definitive text of his Psychological and Cosmological lectures, 1934-1945, 2500 copies, Robertsbridge, East Sussex: Agora Books, 1989, 205p., ISBN 1-872292-00-3 (hc).  The Cosmological lectures were first published as part of In Search of the Miraculous QV. and in a separate paperback volume as The Cosmology of Man’s Possible Evolution Cosmological Lectures (1934-1940) – a definitive edition to provide a permanent record of the original text.  Robertsbridge, East Sussex: Agora Books, 1989, 111p., ISBN 1-872292-01-1 (tdpb).  

 

These private introductory lectures were not written for publication, but to provide Ouspensky’s closest followers with an account of the direction his work had taken since Tertium Organum (1920), and A New Model of the Universe (1931), and his break with Gurdjieff.  Ouspensky indicates that these lectures are an invitation to “follow the advice and indications given . . . which referred chiefly to self-observation and a certain self-discipline.”  These deeply considered, powerful talks present Ouspensky’s long struggle to articulate the key ideas of Gurdjieff’s teaching.   

 

POSTHUMOUS WORKS

 

In Search of the Miraculous:

Fragments of an Unknown Teaching.

 

New York: Harcourt Brace, 1949, 399p., index, paperback issued [19]68; ISBN 0-15-644508-5; London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1950, 399p., index; [1975] ISBN 0-7100-1910-6 (hc); ISBN 0-7100-6635-X (pb).  Reissued with the title In Search of the Miraculous: The Definitive Exploration of G. I. Gurdjieff's Mystical Thought and Universal View. Foreword by Marianne Williamson, New York: Harcourt, 2001, 416pp., ISBN: 0-156-00746-7 (tdpb).  London: Paul H. Crompton Ltd.: 2004, 400p., ISBN-10: 1-8742-5076-6, ISBN-13: 978-1874-250760.  The Cosmological lectures in In Search of the Miraculous were also published (1989) as six lectures in The Cosmology of Man’s Possible Evolution.  (See the previous entry for The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution.) 

 

This is Ouspensky’s riveting systematic account of Gurdjieff’s expository talks about psychology, awakening, and cosmology, in Moscow, St Petersburg and Essentuki between 1915 and 1918.  It was undertaken in 1920 with Gurdjieff’s approval.  The earliest book-length manuscript dates from 1925.  Ouspensky began having it read to his groups and continued to work on it into the 1930s.  He referred to this book as, “Fragments” and refused to allow any information about “the system” to be published, so it remained in manuscript.   Shortly after his death in 1947 it was brought to Gurdjieff’s attention by Ouspensky’s wife Sophie.  With Gurdjieff’s encouragement, it was first published in the autumn of 1949, some months before the 1950 publication of Beelzebub’s Tales.  This remains the most widely read account of Gurdjieff.  The predicament of everyone studying with Gurdjieff is aptly described in a passage from an early draft, where Ouspensky speaks about Gurdjieff’s being and knowledge: 

About schools and about where he found the knowledge, which he beyond a doubt possessed, he said very little and just hinted at it.  He mentioned Mount Athos, Sufi schools in Persia, Tibetan monasteries and Chitral schools in central Asia and eastern Turkestan.  He referred to dervishes too, but all this was always in a very indefinite manner.

 

There was one question which I was never able to answer, namely, what had he been born with and what had he been given by schools, if he had passed through a school.  I often thought about this and at times it seemed to me, and some of us came to the conclusion, that G. 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.

 

But when I thought thus, another voice always said in me that though I could indeed never learn much that G. knew, this did not in the least deter me because I could undoubtedly learn many things. . . 

~ * ~ 

The Fourth Way:

A Record of Talks and Answers to Questions
Based on the Teaching of G. I. Gurdjieff.

 

Prepared under the general supervision of Sophia Ouspensky.  New York: Knopf, 1957, 446p., index; London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1957, 446p., index; New York: Vintage/Random, 1971, 446p., index, ISBN 0-3947-1672-8 (tdpb); London: Routledge & Kegan, Paul, 1975,  (tdpb)  ISBN ; Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publications, 2000, 112p., ISBN 1-4253-4935-8 (tdpb). 

 

Verbatim extracts from talks and answers to questions by Ouspensky between 1921 and 1946.  Chapter one surveys the fundamental ideas, subsequent chapters amplify these, subject by subject in the order Ouspensky followed.  These excerpts are drawn from Reports of Meetings 1921-1947.  Original typescripts and electrostatic copies in the P. D. Ouspensky Collection at Yale University, manuscript group 849, boxes 1 to 35.

 

~ * ~ 

A Record of Some of the Meetings Held by P. D. Ouspensky

between 1930 and 1947.

 

Privately printed limited edition of 20 copies.  Cape Town: Stourton Press, 1951, 694p., index.  (Copy in the P. D. Ouspensky Collection, Yale University.)  London and New York: Penguin / Arkana, 1992, 662p., index, ISBN 0-14-019307-3 (tdpb). 

 

A Further Record:

Chiefly of Extracts from Meetings Held by P. D. Ouspensky
between 1928 and 1945.

 

Privately printed limited edition of 20 copies.  Cape Town: Stourton Press, 1952, 347p., index.  (Copy in the P. D. Ouspensky Collection, Yale University.)  London and New York: Penguin / Arkana, 318., index, ISBN 0-1401-9023-6 (tdpb). 

 

These companion volumes supplement The Fourth Way and contain hundreds of precisely focused short talks followed by question and answer periods with Ouspensky, in England and New York.  He expands upon and returns repeatedly to detail fundamental ideas and practices covered in his own earlier writings.

~ * ~

Conscience: The Search for Truth.

 

Introduction by Merrily E. Taylor.  London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979, 159p.; London and New York: Arkana, 1988, 159p., ISBN 0-14-019011-2 (tdpb); London: Penguin, 1989, 176p., ISBN 10: 0140190112, ISBN-13: 978-0140190113. 

 

Taylor’s Introduction (pp. 1-11) provides thoughtful general discussion about Ouspensky’s books and his approach to writing.  Five short essays titled Memory, Surface Personality, Self-Will, Negative Emotions, and, Notes on Work, were originally published in limited editions by Stourton Press between 1952 and 1955.  Copies of the Stourton editions are in the P. D. Ouspensky Collection at Yale University.

~ * ~ 

P. D. OUSPENSKY’S  MANUSCRIPTS

 

P. D. Ouspensky Memorial Collection.  Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University.  New Haven, Conn., Manuscript Group No. 840.

 

Fifty-four boxes of material that include transcripts of Ouspensky’s meetings from 1921 to 1947, manuscripts, translations and copies of his books, and two boxes of photographs and material about Ouspensky.  Access is facilitated by Janet Elaine Gertz’ Finding Aid, P. D. Ouspensky Memorial Collection: Manuscript Group 840.  New Haven: Yale University, 1981, 9p.

 

Remembering Pytor Demianovich Ouspensky.  Compiled and edited by Merrily E. Taylor.  New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Library, 1978, 45p.

 

A brochure for an exhibition commemorating the 100th anniversary of Ouspensky’s birth, and celebrating the gift of his papers and manuscripts to the Yale Library.   Contains a biographical outline, an annotated bibliography of Ouspensky’s major works and a selection of reminiscences by followers. 

~ * ~

Notes on the Gospel of Saint John.  Mexico City: Ediciones Sol, 1949, 1979, 27p.

 

Rodney Collin found this manuscript among Ouspensky’s papers and published it under his name.  James Webb contends that it “was in fact the work of another pupil who submitted it to him.  Collin issued it believing it to be Ouspensky’s work, but withdrew it when he discovered his mistake.”  (Harmonious Circle.  p. 491.) 

 

 

INTERVIEWS WITH P. D. OUSPENSKY

 

Bowyer. E. C.           

Not a Cult. The Daily News (London), February 19, 1923, pp. 1, 7.  Concludes a four-part series on Gurdjieff’s Institute by E. C. Bowyer. 

 

Provides a revealing glimpse of Ouspensky’s attitude then, towards Gurdjieff and his group in France.  “Gurdjieff and I have reached our present stage of knowledge by long and hard work in many lands . . .. My book, telling of our discoveries so far as they have gone, should be out this summer. . . . I am thinking of calling it Fragments of an Unknown Teaching.  In the meantime I am lecturing before small private classes, which is as much as my command of English permits.” 

 

Landau, Rom

God Is My Adventure: A Book of Modern Mystics, Masters and Teachers.   London: Ivor Nicholson & Watson, 1935, 426p.; New York: Knopf, 1936, 411p., bib.; London: Faber & Faber, 1941, 255p.; London: Allen & Unwin, 1964, ISBN 0-0420-0006-8 (pb). 

 

Landau sought out men who claimed to have penetrated “those regions of truth that official religions and sciences are shy of exploring.”  He describes interviews with Keyserling, Bo Yin Ra, Steiner, Krishnamurti, Heher Baba, George Jeffreys, Frank Buchman, and Ouspensky, who’s London meetings Landau attended several times.  Landau visited Gurdjieff in his New York hotel-room one afternoon during the 1930s.  Sepia photos are dipped in, of Gurdjieff, Ouspensky.  These are the first extended interviews of Gurdjieff and of Ouspensky to be published in book form.

 

ACCOUNTS OF P. D. OUSPENSKY

 

Butkovsky-Hewitt, Anna

With Gurdjieff in St Petersburg and Paris.  With the assistance of Mary Cosh and Alicia Street.  New York: Weiser, 1978, 157p., ISBN 0-87728-387-7 (hc);  London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978, 157p., ISBN 0-7100-8527-3 (hc). 

 

An admiring account of the author’s intimate quest—from 1913 to 1917—with P. D. Ouspensky, for “the mystic threshold between the third and fourth dimension”.  She is not precise with dates and lumps most events into 1916 but Ouspensky introduced her to Gurdjieff when the latter was recruiting his first Petrograd group at the tables of the Errant Dog Café in 1915.  Members included Dr Leonid Stjoernval, P. D. Ouspensky, Anna Ilinishna Butkovsky, and Andrei A. Zaharoff.  Sometimes with Gurdjieff’s Moscow group, they formed the audience for the “Fragments of an unknown teaching” which Ouspensky faithfully recorded.

 

Nicoll, Maurice

Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of G. I. Gurdjieff and P. D. Ouspensky. By Maurice Nicoll.  [3 Vols.]. London: Vincent Stuart, 1952, 1227p.; [Vol. 4] London: Vincent Stuart, 1955, pp. 1235–1503; [Vol. 5] London: Vincent Stuart, 1956, pp. 1513–1766; [5 Volume Set] London: Robinson & Watkins, 1972, 1973; London: Watkins, 1975; New York: Weiser, 197?; [6 Volume] paperback set with index in Vol. 6, Boulder & London: Shambhala, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987; 6 Volume hardcover set includes index, York Beach, Maine: Weiser, 1996, ISBN 0-87728 910-7 (hc).

 

This encyclopaedic set contains hundreds of brief, sharply focused, penetrating essays and commentaries on a wide range of topics connected with Nicoll’s presentation of the psychological and cosmological teachings he gathered from his year with Gurdjieff and particularly from his nine years of close study with Ouspensky and assimilation of the latter’s practice of psychological evolution.  There is no specific mention of Ouspensky or Gurdjieff in the text, they are reflected throughout in the ideas (largely Gurdjieff’s from his expositions in Russia) and the style (essentially Ouspensky’s, somewhat warmed with Nicoll’s stern charm.). 

 

Pogson, Beryl

Maurice Nicoll: A Portrait New York: Thomas Nelson, 1961, 288p., index. 

 

Nicoll’s secretary from 1940 until his death in 1954, draws on family archives and Nicoll’s own accounts and diaries to describe his studies with Gurdjieff and Ouspensky.

 

Pentland. John

P. D. Ouspensky in The Encyclopedia of Religion edited by Mircea Eliade.  N. Y: Macmillan, 1987.  Vol. 11, pp. 143–144.

 

Pentland studied with Ouspensky for almost two decades.  He offers a succinct, informed synopsis of Ouspensky’s contributions as an independent thinker, writer and leading exponent of Gurdjieff’s ideas.   

 

Roberts, Carl Eric Bechhofer

In Denikin’s Russia and the Caucasus, 1919–1920: Being the Record of a Journey to South Russia, the Crimea, Armenia, Georgia and Baku in 1919 and 1920.  Introduction by Alfred E. Zimmern.  London: Collins; 1921, 324p.; New York: Arno, 1971, 324p., ISBN 0-405 03077 0 (hc).

 

The author was a journalist who spoke Russian and was acquainted with Ouspensky when he undertook an assignment to report on conditions there in 1919.  He provides an informed assessment of the volatile social and political situations, as well as an engaging account of his ‘journey through Georgia’ (pp. 65–69) and a series of meetings with “a curious individual named Georgiy Ivanovich Gourjiev.”  Roberts’ sceptical but admiring observations provide the first published account in English about Gurdjieff.  Roberts also sketches the few days he spent living in a barn with Ouspensky in Rostov-on-the-Don (pp. 81–93).  This account was included in the 1978 and 1991 reprints of Ouspensky’s Letters from Russia, QV.

 

Seton, Marie

The Case of P. D. Ouspensky. Quest  (Calcutta), No. 34, July-Sept., 1962, pp. 36-44, 6000wds. Posted as the last at www.Gurdjieff-Bibliography.com

 

Marie Seton was Ouspensky's secretary and confidante in America during the 1940s. Although convinced of his goodness and honesty, she writes pointedly about his struggle with the corrupting influence of serving as a guru.

 

Walker, K. 

Venture With Ideas.  London: Jonathan Cape, 1951, 192p.,  New York: Pellegrini & Cadahy, 1952, 212p., New York: Weiser, 1972, 192p..; London: Neville Spearman, 1973, 192p.; Edition 2, revised.  London: Luzac Oriental, 1995, 160p., ISBN 1-898942-04-8 (hc), 1-898942-05-6 (pb).

 

Bound for almost thirty years by a promise to Ouspensky to not speak publicly or publish anything learned at their meetings, the author was freed to write about his experiences with Ouspensky and Gurdjieff by the death of both men and the publication of Beelzebub’s Tales and In Search of the Miraculous.  Walker describes the impact of Gurdjieff’s system “on a man who had received an orthodox scientific education” as a physician.   Offering autobiographical vignettes as well as explication of core ideas and practices, Walker also describes the enduring impact Gurdjieff had on him during their brief encounters.

 

The Making of Man.  London: Routledge & Kegan, 1963, 163p., index, ISBN 0-7100-2248-4 (hc).

 

Walker begins with an account of his days as a medical student at Cambridge with Maurice Nicoll.  It was through Nicoll that Walker met Ouspensky, with whom he studied for almost three decades.  He also had a series of meetings with Gurdjieff in 1948–1949.  He intersperses anecdotal material with informed examination of psychological and cosmological ideas.

 

GURDJIEFF BIOGRAPHIES WITH COVERAGE OF P. D. OUSPENSKY

 

Webb, James

The Harmonious Circle: The Lives and Work of G. I. Gurdjieff, P. D. Ouspensky, and Their Followers.  New York: Putnam, 1980, ISBN 0-399-11465-3 (hc); London: Thames & Hudson; 1980, 608p., ISBN 0-500-01131-1 (hc); Boston: Shambhala, 1987, 608p., index, ISBN 0-87773 427 5 (pb).

 

This massively researched chronicle and assessment of the lives, influence and significance of Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, and their followers, remains an enduring monument to James Webb’s tenacity and scholarship.  A sceptic’s handbook, bursting with details and ambitious flights of speculation, it is pervaded by Webb’s precipitous conflict between a severely rationalist bias and his fascinated and agonised indecision about Gurdjieff’s and Ouspensky’s intentions and legacies

 

Moore, James

Gurdjieff: the anatomy of a myth, a biography.  Shaftsbury, Dorset: Element, 1991, 415p., chronology, notes, references, index, ISBN 1-85230-114-7 (hc), 1993, ISBN 1-85230-450-2 (pb).  With a revised introduction and the title Gurdjieff: a biography.  Shaftsbury, Dorset: Element, 1999, 416p., ISBN 1-86204-606-9 (pb). 

 

Moore crafts a lively, articulate, deeply informed, and admiring, yet sardonic portrait of Gurdjieff and his closest entourage.  Their story is framed in the context of historical events and individual dramas in relation to Gurdjieff’s compulsion to act as an abrupt awakener and esoteric teacher.  Despite the formidable obstacles he faces as a biographer, Moore succeeds in providing as clear and balanced an account as we are likely to have of Gurdjieff, who carefully covered most of the personal tracks he didn’t erase, and of the lives drawn into his vortex. 

 

EVALUATIONS OF P. D. OUSPENSKY

 

Priestley, J. B.

Man and Time.  London: Aldus Books, 1964; Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday, 1964, 319p.; New York: Dell 1968, 319p.; New York: Crescent Books, 1989, 319p., ISBN 0-517-69042-X (hc).  

 

This thoughtful, well-illustrated examination reflects Priestley’s life-long fascination with the subject and draws on a wide variety of scientists, poets and philosophers to examine ideas about and experiences of time.  He devotes an approving chapter titled “Esoteric School”, to an examination of Ouspensky’s and occasionally Gurdjieff’s concepts of time. 

 

Presley, Michael 

A Brief Overview of Certain Aspects of the Thought of Petyr Demianovich Ouspensky. 

This article has been posted on various sites since the mid 1990s and was reprinted in The Gurdjieff International Review II (2), Winter 1998-1999.

 

Presley focuses on Tertium Organum, A New Model of the Universe and Strange Life of Ivan Osokin to identify and discuss Ouspensky’s philosophical ideas as an original thinker and creative synthesizer, quite apart from his influence as an interpreter of Gurdjieff’s ideas. 

 

The Bridge: A Journal Issued by the Study Society,

No. 12, P. D. Ouspensky Commemorative Issue.  London, 1997, 257p., sewn trade paperback.

 

The Study Society was established by the contingent of Ouspensky followers who—after their leader’s death in 1947, did not migrate to Gurdjieff as Sophie Ouspensky proposed.  This ambitious anthology contains 45 essays and poems reminiscing, examining and celebrating Ouspensky’s life.  An earlier issue, No.  3, 1978, 66p., contains an editorial The Thought of P. D. Ouspensky and four articles, which mark “the centenary of the birth of” Ouspensky in 1888.

 

 

© J Walter Driscoll 2007