International Review

Winter 1998/1999 Issue, Vol. II No. 2

Special Issue on P. D. Ouspensky


P. D. Ouspensky was a major contributor to Twentieth century ideas, anticipating many of the key questions in philosophy, psychology and religion that have driven and informed us throughout the century. This issue celebrates Ouspensky as a leading independent philosopher and a major exponent of Gurdjieff’s teachings.

P. D. Ouspensky by John Pentland

First published in The Encyclopedia of Religion edited by Mircea Eliade (1987) New York: Macmillan, Volume 11, pp. 143–144, Pentland’s sketch offers a succinct and original synopsis of Ouspensky’s contributions as an independent thinker and writer and as a leading exponent of Gurdjieff’s teaching.

P. D. Ouspensky: a Biographical Outline

This informed biographical outline was first published in Remembering Pytor Demianovich Ouspensky (1978) a brochure compiled by Merrily E. Taylor and is reproduced with the kind permission of the Manuscripts and Archives Division at Yale University Library.

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

Michael 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 a major interpreter of Gurdjieff.

In Anti-Bolshevist Russia

An article by journalist Carl Eric Bechhofer Roberts first published in The New Age (Jan 6, 1921) London: XXVIII (10), p. 113, and later in In Denikin’s Russia and the Caucasus, 1919–1920. Stranded in the midst of the Russian revolution, the author stays several days in a barn with Ouspensky and Zaharov, another of Gurdjieff’s students. Over a bottle of vodka, Ouspensky engagingly relates some of his light-hearted Moscow and Essentuki adventures.

The Romance and Mystery of Tertium Organum

First published in Merely Players (1929) Knopf, a collection of Claude Bragdon’s essays, this article describes how Bragdon and Nicholas Bessaraboff came to translate Tertium Organum, which paved the way for Ouspensky’s favorable reception in the West.

Not a Cult: Dancing to Develop the Mind

This article was written by journalist E. C. Bowyer as part of a series of four articles on the Prieuré in the Daily News (Feb. 19, 1923) London and is republished here for the first time. While visiting Gurdjieff’s “Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man” which had opened five months earlier, Bowyer quotes extensively from an interview with Ouspensky. This article ran along with coverage of the excavations of Tutankhamon’s tomb.

Strange Life of Ivan Osokin

A commentary by John Pentland first published in Material for Thought (1972) San Francisco: Number 4, and subsequently published as the foreword to the Penguin Metaphysical Library Series edition of Ivan Osokin (1973). It is published here with the kind permission of Mrs. Mary Rothenberg. Lord Pentland provides valuable and original commentary on Ouspensky’s writings.

The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution

An anonymous commentary first published in Material for Thought (1974) San Francisco: Number 5 and reissued here with the kind permission of the editors. It provides informed analysis with many astute, original observations about the book, as well as about Ouspensky’s purpose and methods during the last few decades of his life.

In Search of the Miraculous

A synopsis by Dr. Jacob Needleman originally presented at the 1980 national meetings of the American Academy of Religion and first published in an expanded form as “Gurdjieff, Ouspensky and Esoteric Philosophy” in Consciousness and Tradition (1982) New York: Crossroads. This revision is published with the author’s kind permission. Professor Needleman offers a thoroughly considered synopsis of the cosmological and psychological ideas contained in Ouspensky’s In Search of the Miraculous.

P. D. Ouspensky: a Brief Bibliography

J. Walter Driscoll surveys the major writings by and about Ouspensky, and highlights some additional writings that show his influence.

Other New Features

Gurdjieff’s Theory of Art

This revised Third Chapter of Dr. Anna Challenger’s Ph.D. dissertation from Kent State University (1990) is published with the author’s kind permission. She provides a thoughtful analysis of Gurdjieff’s ideas of art, particularly as they apply to his writings.

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.
P. D. Ouspensky

"Gurdjieff gave me many new ideas I did not know before, and he gave a system I did not know before. About schools I did know, for I had been travelling and looking for schools for 10 years. He had an extraordinary system, and quite new. Some separate fragments of it could be found elsewhere, but not connected and put together like they are in this system."

P. D. Ouspensky

"A characteristic of every one of Ouspensky's meetings, which he attended until a few months before his death, was their remarkable intensity. He made demands for the utmost honesty not only on himself but on his pupils as well."

John Pentland

"Great care is taken throughout the book [In Search of the Miraculous] to characterize the master-pupil relationship between Gurdjieff and his circle. The resulting picture of Gurdjieff is of a man obviously possessing immense wisdom and personal power, capable at once of painfully stripping away the pupil's 'mask' while carefully guiding him through the emotional and bodily experiences necessary for the process of deep learning."

Jacob Needleman

"One gets the idea from reading Ouspensky that, indeed, man is an experiment, but whether he is or will ever be a successful experiment is a big question."

Michael Presley

"Gurdjieff’s artistry, as embodied in Beelzebub's Tales, demands extraordinary efforts on the part of the reader in order to evoke the author’s hoped-for response... Beelzebub’s Tales is objective art to the degree that we, as readers, permit it to be in the act of our effortful and conscious participation in this work."

Anna Challenger

"People have been drinking since the beginning of the world, but they have never found anything to go better with vodka than a salted cucumber."

P. D. Ouspensky

Copyright © 1999
Gurdjieff Electronic Publishing

January 1, 1999