The Prieuré at Fontainebleau

Gurdjieff International Review

An Experiment at Fontainebleau

A Personal Reminiscence

by James Carruthers Young


[First printed in The New Adelphi, London, Vol. I (1), September 1927, pp. 26–40. Like his colleagues Dr. Mary Bell and Dr. Maurice Nicoll, Dr. James Carruthers Young abandoned the practice of Jungian therapy to work at Fontainebleau. Originally delivered to the Medical Section of the British Psychological Society, his essay describes the ideas Ouspensky presented in London and Young's experience of their application at the Prieuré. He sketches Gurdjieff and concludes by depicting the state of mind that led to his departure from the Institute.]

I DO not doubt that there are many and varied opinions about the nature and significance of the Institute founded in 1922 at Fontainebleau by George Gurdjieff, a man of Greek or Georgian nationality (I never knew which for certain). Probably there are as many different opinions as there were people who went to the Institute or who stayed in London and wove the fabulous things which they heard about it from friends who had been there into their dreams. There remain, also, the opinions of those who had no other information than that derived from the descriptive articles and the inevitable pictures which appeared in the Daily Mail or Daily News. The headline of one of these articles ran: "The Forest Philosophers." I remember that this caption amused me hugely at the time. It also exercised me, because I have had moments such as Raskolnikoff in Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment must have had when he asked himself "Am I Napoleon or a louse?" I was not quite sure whether I was philosopher or fool!…

[The complete text is available in the printed copy of this issue.]

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