Gurdjieff International Review
A. R. Orage
Introduction & Bibliography
by J. Walter Driscoll
Orage had met P. D. Ouspensky in London in 1914 when the latter was on his way back to Russia, having traveled through Asia in search of the miraculous. When Ouspensky subsequently moved to London in the autumn of 1921, Orage attended his lectures about 'fragments of an unknown teaching' as a student alchemist and helped him gather an audience. In February 1922, Orage met the source of Ouspensky's gold, in the person and teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff who, with a band of followers, had fled the Russian Revolution in 1917 and was considering London as a place to immigrate to.
Gurdjieff established his Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man near Paris France, at Fontainebleau on October 1, 1922. That same month, Orage sold theNew Age and surrendered the forefront of intellectual life in London to learn from Gurdjieff while digging ditches at the Prieuré, as the Institute at Fontainebleau became known. Orage invited his friend Dennis Saurat to come to the Prieuré a few months later in February, 1923. Saurat's A Visit to Gourdyev conveys a vivid sense of the turmoil and enormous difficulties everyone experienced as Gurdjieff struggled to establish the Institute. In Teachings of Gurdjieff: The Journal of a Pupil, his record of Fontainebleau, Stanley Nott reports that Orage described this period by saying:
When I was in the depths of despair, feeling that I could go on no longer, I vowed to make extra effort, and just then something changed in me. Soon, I began to enjoy the hard labor, and a week later, Gurdjieff came to me and said, "Now, Orage, I think you dig enough. Let us go to the cafe and drink coffee." From that moment things began to change.
In January 1924, Orage went to New York to help Gurdjieff with his first visit to America. In October, after Gurdjieff had returned to France, he appointed Orage to supervise the Work in America. Then in July 1924 Orage was shocked by news that Gurdjieff was critically injured in an automobile accident and might not survive. Through Gurdjieff's subsequent recovery and decision to turn his attention to writing Beelzebub's Tales and Meetings with Remarkable Men, Orage found himself the de facto leader of numerous Gurdjieff groups and group leaders across America. Among others, Gorham Munson's essays on Orage describe this period in vivid detail.
Having established something authentic in himself as a result of Gurdjieff's teaching and his own conscientious efforts, Orage went on to marry for the second time in his mid 50s and have two children with Jessie Dwight. In May 1930 he returned to England and began to establish a renewed life. He became deeply involved with political issues, was instrumental in rekindling interest in the socialist movement called Social Credit which became a fringe force in politics for many decades. He founded a new journal, the New English Weekly, in April 1932. He was planning to introduce Gurdjieff's ideas in that paper and elsewhere, when he died on the night of November 5, 1934.
On hearing of Orage's death, Gurdjieff issued the following invitation:
November 6, 1934
I have just now learned of the death of Mr. Orage, who was for many years your guide and teacher and my inner world essence friend. I invite you to attend a meeting, to pay homage to him and to speak in his memory, on Friday evening, November 9th, at 9 o'clock, in Miss Bentley's studio in Carnegie Hall, at which time, likewise, will be played some of his favorite music and some of those pieces dedicated to him which were composed by me while he was at the Prieuré.
Orage was editor of thirty volumes of the enormously influential journal the New Age between 1907 until 1922. Under the title of "Readers and Writers", he contributed a wealth of essays, articles and editorial comment of which this anthology reproduces 78 items.
About one hundred thirty psychological exercises to focus mental, vocal and visual acuity. These are complimented by fifteen essays on such topics as "The control of temper," "How to read men," "On dying daily," "Economizing our energy," and "Are we awake?"
The four essays in this collection reflect the depth of Gurdjieff's influence on Orage. C. S. Nott edited the aphorisms from his personal notes on Orage's talks to Gurdjieff groups between 1924 and 1930.
Both the previous titles, separately paged in one paperback volume.
Orage was largely responsible, under Gurdjieff's close direction, for rendering Beelzebub's Tales into articulate English. Nott's personal notes compiled over several years, provide a detailed record Orage's illuminating commentaries.
Life is Real Only Then, When "I Am." The third series of All and Everything. Foreword by Jeanne de Salzmann. Privately printed, New York: Triangle Editions, 1975, 170p.; second enlarged edition privately printed, New York: Triangle Editions, 1978, 177p; New York: Dutton, 1982, 177p.; London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982, 177p.
Orage is the only historically verifiable figure mentioned more than briefly in Gurdjieff's writing. Gurdjieff points out that Orage's appointment as leader of his study groups in the United States between 1924 and 1930 was necessitated by the devastating automobile accident he suffered and provides a vivid account of how he challenged Orage's performance, motives and preoccupation with self-observation. Gurdjieff examines the question of how we deal with death and describes the false sympathy he was repeatedly subjected to on the occasion of "the death of my close friend, Mr. Orage." He emphasizes the importance for him of November 6, 1934; the date of Orage's death and the day he began the final period of writing the Third Series.
The Oragean Version. Privately printed in a limited edition of 100 copies. New York: 1951, 289 p., index.
Convinced that Orage's presentation was an undistorted version of an ancient teaching that would be irretrievably lost after Orage's death, King presents a rigorous and detailed formulation of material he gathered over several years of close study with Orage. Pages 257 to 269 contain King's rendering of 118 aphorisms by Orage.
A. R. Orage: a Memoir. London: J. M. Dent, 1936, 132 p.; revised with a new introduction by Philip Mairet, New Hyde Park, NY: University Books, 1966, 140p., index.
Mairet furnishes a discerning account of his friend's life as an influential literary and social figure. He recounts a significant anecdote about a discussion between Gurdjieff and Orage about having an aim. When asked about his "whim" or true desire, Gurdjieff responded that "it was to live and teach so that there should be a new conception of God in the world, a change in the very meaning of the word."
The Awakening Twenties: a memoir-history of a literary period. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985, 317p., index.
A professional writer, Munson lived in New York's Greenwich Village when it truly was a new bohemia. This account of several major literary figures of the period includes an enthusiastic chapter on "Orage in America" and a description of Munson's month at Fontainebleau with Gurdjieff.
Teachings of Gurdjieff: the journal of a pupil; an account of some years with G. I. Gurdjieff and A. R. Orage in New York and at Fontainebleau-Avon. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1961, 254p.; New York: Weiser, 1962, 230p., index. After 1978 the Weiser edition was issued with the variant subtitle; A Pupil's Journal.
Journey through this World: the second journal of a pupil including an account of meetings with G. I. Gurdjieff, A. R. Orage and P. D. Ouspensky. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969, 254p.; New York: Weiser, 1969, 253p., index. The Weiser edition was issued with the variant title, Further Teachings of Gurdjieff: journey through this world.
In addition to their value as the original source of Orage's Commentary on Beelzebub (see above), these companion volumes provide an extended and now classic account of life as a student of Gurdjieff with Orage in France and subsequently in New York. Nott vividly documents his sustained and intense years of inner work with these men.
Orage with Gurdjieff in America. Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1982, 142p.
Louise Welch studied with Orage during his eight years in New York. She went on to become a senior leader in the study of Gurdjieff's teaching. Welch provides a vividly personal account of Orage's background his continuing influence as a writer and editor as well as his pivotal role as Gurdjieff's representative in America.
Copyright © 1998 J. Walter Driscoll|
This webpage © 1998 Gurdjieff Electronic Publishing
Featured: Spring 1998 Issue, Vol. I (3)
Revision: May 1, 2000