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International Review

Summer 2012 Issue, Vol. XI No. 2

Welcome to the Gurdjieff International Review—a source of informed essays and commentary on the life, writings, and teachings of George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff. Mr. Gurdjieff was an extraordinary man, a master in the truest sense. His teachings speak to our most essential questions: Who am I? Why am I here? What is the purpose of life, and of human life in particular? As a young man, Gurdjieff relentlessly pursued these questions and became convinced that practical answers lay within ancient traditions. Through many years of searching and practice he discovered answers and then set about putting what he had learned into a form understandable to the Western world. Gurdjieff maintained that, owing to the abnormal conditions of modern life, we no longer function in a harmonious way. He taught that in order to become harmonious, we must develop new faculties—or actualize latent potentialities—through “work on oneself.” He presented his teachings and ideas in three forms: writings, music, and movements which correspond to our intellect, emotions, and physical body.

Beelzebub’s Tales

In this special issue (our twentieth), we republish all the articles from our previous issues on the subject of Gurdjieff’s book Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson. They are presented here in the order that they were originally published. A complete printed copy of this issue can be ordered from our store.

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An excerpt of a talk taken from an unpublished, undated typescript in which Gurdjieff comments briefly on the relationship between attention and understanding when reading Beelzebub’s Tales.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

“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.

About This Publication

The Gurdjieff International Review is published by Gurdjieff Electronic Publishing. Any information or opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher or editors.


“In Beelzebub, I know, there is everything one must know. It is a very interesting book. Everything is there. All that exists, all that has existed, all that can exist. The beginning, the end, all the secrets of the creation of the world; all is there.

G.I. Gurdjieff

“Nothing much may happen in our time.  We are in too much of a hurry.  We have no sense of real time in the West.  Perhaps in fifty, or a hundred years a group of key men will read [Beelzebub].  They will say, ‘This is what we’ve been looking for,’ and on an understanding of it, may start a movement which could raise the level of civilization.

Denis Saurat

“The type of verbal formula used by Gurdjieff in All and Everything corresponds precisely to what is regarded by many as the highest ideal of language, in which the meaning of an expression is created by the compulsion of inner experience.  In Gurdjieff’s hands, this form of language acquires a devastating power.

J.G. Bennett

“The first important thing to note about this [Gurdjieff’s] doctrine is that there is, explicitly, no room at all for anyone in it who does not approach it itself in a truly critical and skeptical spirit.”

Martin Seymour-Smith

“Gurdjieff’s work, his teaching, is not meant for everyone—neither is his Book for everyone.  Both the teaching and the Book are meant for those who can and will use them.”

A.L. Staveley

“The All is essence, and Everything is personality.”

G.I. Gurdjieff

Copyright © 2012
Gurdjieff Electronic Publishing

June 1, 2012