Rene Daumal, 1944

Gurdjieff International Review

René Daumal


One of the most gifted literary figures in France in the early part of the twentieth century, René Daumal was a genuine seeker of truth. In the later part of his life, he had the good fortune to meet and work with Gurdjieff.

The Holy War

René Daumal’s prose-poem that heralds a fiery call to inner warfare is translated by D. M. Dooling from “La Guerre Sainte,” in Daumal’s collection, Poésie Noire, Poésie Blanche.

The Strait Gate

First published in Poésie 99 (78) Paris, June 1999, this essay by Basarab Nicolescu is translated from the French “La Porte Étroite” by Martha Heyneman for its first English publication here. Nicolescu points out that “It is high time to undertake a serious inquiry into the relation between Daumal’s own work and the influence Gurdjieff’s teaching had upon him,” and calls for the undertaking of such “a detailed study conducted in conformity with all the rules of scholarship.” We propose Kathleen Rosenblatt’s recent René Daumal: The Life of a Mystic Guide as a candidate for this position.

Daumal with Gurdjieff and the de Salzmanns

The first part of Chapter 9 from Kathleen Rosenblatt’s recent book René Daumal: The Life and Work of a Mystic Guide, (1999) New York: SUNY Press, is reproduced by permission of the State University of New York Press and the author.

The Role of Movement in the Complete Education of Man

Daumal invites the reader to participate in a movements class lead by Jeanne de Salzmann in the 1930s.

Our Money Has No Value

In his unfinished novel, Mount Analogue, René Daumal challenges the reader to question what might constitute a trading currency when pursuing esoteric knowledge. His characters discover that “the peradam is the only substance, the only material object whose value is recognized by the guides of Mount Analogue.”

The Art of Climbing Mountains

“You cannot always stay on the summits. You have to come down again . . . So what’s the point? Only this: what is above knows what is below, what is below does not know what is above.”

A Letter to Jeanne de Salzmann

Daumal writes to his teacher of subtle changes in attitude that have appeared in him as a result of their relationship: “Yes, I do the exercises, and I shall try to do them better and better, in the spirit you ask: ‘as a service’ and ‘as one learns a trade.’”

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Revision: October 25, 2015