Gurdjieff International Review

All and Everything

Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson

An Objectively Impartial Criticism of the Life of Man


All serious followers of Gurdjieff's teaching study this book. This is Gurdjieff’s magnum opus. Regarding this series, Gurdjieff said, “I had decided with the contents of the first series of books to achieve the destruction, in the consciousness and feelings of people, of deep-rooted convictions which in my opinion are false and quite contradictory to reality.” Gurdjieff’s friendly advice is to read each of his written expositions at least thrice. Further advice is provided from an excerpt of a talk in which Gurdjieff comments on the relationship between attention and understanding when reading Beelzebub’s Tales.

Originally written in Russian and Armenian, it has twice been translated into English:

There is a Guide and Index available for both the original and revised translations published in 1971 and 2003 by Traditional Studies Press, ISBN 0-919608-01-9. There is also an Index and Study Guide for the original translation published in 2010 by Mr. Nyland’s groups, ISBN 978-0-615-32613-9. There’s also a Beelzebub Syllabus/Bookmark available for the original translation.

For those interested in exploring Beelzebub’s Tales even more deeply, there is an All & Everything Conference that meets yearly to study the book. Originally conceived as a congenial meeting of the “Companions of the Book” in 1996, the conference has become established as an independent forum on the writings of G.I. Gurdjieff, attracting international scholars, artists, scientists, group leaders, students, and speakers from around the world. Conferences have been held in the UK, USA, Greece, the Netherlands, Canada and the Czech Republic.

Beelzebub will be a great help to me. I was about to say:
it comes from the heavens—yes, but from the living heavens.”

Rene Daumal


Reviews

On Attention and Understanding of Beelzebub’s Tales
G. I. Gurdjieff

An excerpt of a talk taken from an unpublished, undated typescript in which Gurdjieff comments briefly on the relationship between attention and understanding when reading Beelzebub’s Tales.

Beelzebub’s Tales: Fifty Years Later
Denis Saurat

Written shortly after its publication in 1950, and, as timely today as it was then, Saurat comments on what he regards as the book’s central themes and speculates about its long term impact.

Gurdjieff’s All and Everything
John G. Bennett

Bennett’s study was first published in Rider’s Review (Autumn 1950), London. 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, a Master Stroke
Manuel Rainoird

Rainoird’s penetrating examination of Beelzebub’s Tales was first published as Belzébuth, un coup de maître in Monde Nouveau (Paris) October, 1956 as a review of the publication of the first French edition. This translation is the first to offer the complete text in English.

Commentary on Beelzebub’s Tales
Owens / Smith

Commentary by Terry Winter Owens and Suzanne D. Smith first issued by University Books in their Mystic Arts Book News, No. 78, 1964. “Despite all the inherent difficulties which Gurdjieff has implanted in the book—complexities in writing and in concepts, the rewards are there also. But in keeping with Gurdjieff’s philosophy, the rewards are commensurate with the reader’s struggle to find them.”

Superforce and Beelzebub
Jyri Paloheimo

Jyri Paloheimo reviews Paul Davies’ Superforce: The Search for a Grand Unified Theory of Nature and takes issue with the popular notion that the current science of physics is yet one more Way in harmony with Eastern teachings. In so doing, he draws on Beelzebub’s Tales as a source and synthesis of ancient wisdom traditions which are rooted in the idea that the universe has a purpose.

The Tales Themselves: An Overview
Anna Challenger

This revised Fourth Chapter of Dr. Anna Challenger’s Ph.D. dissertation from Kent State University (1990) provides a glimpse of the deeply considered understanding each of us must find in our own reading of Beelzebub’s Tales.

Gurdjieff’s Theory of Art
Anna Challenger

This revised Third Chapter of Dr. Challenger’s dissertation provides a thoughtful analysis of Gurdjieff’s ideas of art, particularly as they apply to his writings.

Commentary on Beelzebub’s Tales
A. L. Staveley

This commentary was first published in 1993 as dust jacket notes for the Two Rivers Press facsimile reprinting of the English (1950) first edition of Beelzebub’s Tales.

The Struggle to “Fathom the Gist” of Beelzebub’s Tales
Terry Winter Owens

An essay from Terry Winter Owens published here first. “For over 30 years, I have wanted to write a follow up to the essay on Gurdjieff’s All and Everything that I wrote in the 1960s”

The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written Chapter 94: Beelzebub’s Tales
Martin Seymour-Smith

Chapter 94 from The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written:The History of Thought from Ancient Times to Today is reproduced in its entirety. Seymour-Smith points out that Gurdjieff’s doctrine is “the most convincing fusion of Eastern and Western thought that has yet been seen.”

Mr. Nyland’s Index to Beelzebub’s Tales
Terry Winter Owens

“After more than a half century since its conception, the very first Index to All and Everything: BeelzebubVs Tales to His Grandson is at last emerging from obscurity and making its well-deserved entrée into the literature relating to the Gurdjieff Work... Few people know about the first Index. Begun over 50 years ago, and published in mimeographed format, it was developed by Willem Nyland and his groups. For those who have had access to it, it has proven to be an invaluable help for studying Gurdjieff’s teaching.”

“And So, My Boy ...”
Paul Jordan-Smith

Beelzebub’s Tales belongs to a long tradition of story-telling which can teach us much about the arts of listening and of reading aloud—and the inner questions which arise as we study these arts.

Thus Spake Beelzebub
Richard Hodges

Richard Hodges compares Gurdjieff’s Beelzebub’s Tales and Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra. “Nietszche’s übermensch has usually been rendered in English as “superman,” but that term has connotations that do not correspond with Nietzsche’s thought. What he meant, I think, is that the New Man must rise above the unconscious addictions and beliefs inherited from millennia, see them for what they are, and become free of them, and that, with this freedom, he will be able to have powers of action in the world that man is meant to have. This is not so different perhaps than the project and the promise at the source of religious traditions, but without the accumulated baggage. Nietzsche’s idea is similar, I feel, to Gurdjieff’s idea of “man number four,” a man who is working to develop beyond what he is born as and what ordinary culture develops in him.”

The First Page of Beelzebub’s Tales
Irv Givot

Irv Givot contemplates the first page of Beelzebub’s Tales and in so doing provides insight for our own exploration. “I must have read those opening paragraphs at least twenty times, and I never before suspected anything amiss. I never questioned his conviction. My reaction now seemed analogous to a baseball batter expecting a fastball from the pitcher and being fooled by a curve. Even worse, a batter not even suspecting he’d been fooled. It was a feeling of suddenly realizing that I’d been outsmarted by someone far more clever than me. But these analogies are not quite an exact representation. It’s more like, here in the first sentence of the entire book there is already a teaching but it requires thinking out of the box to grasp it, and I’ve been too oblivious ever to notice it after all these years. What could this teaching be?”

~ • ~

“Mr. Gurdjieff put everything,
everything he knew in Beelzebub’s Tales.”

A. L. Staveley

This webpage © 1998 Gurdjieff Electronic Publishing
Revision: October 1, 2012