Gurdjieff Studies

Chronology of Gurdjieff's Life

by James Moore


The special difficulties of Gurdjieffian chronology seem likely to prevail over investigative scholarship. The very date of his birth is in dispute, although Gurdjieff himself stipulates 1866. Between then and 1912 we are chasteningly reliant on Gurdjieff's own four impressionistic accounts, which - in the nature of myth - are innocent of consistency, Aristotelian logic and chronological discipline. Notoriously problematical are 'the missing twenty years' from 1887 to 1907; the journals of the epoch's great Central Asian geographers (Sven Hedin, Sir Aurel Stein, Albert von Le Coq, Paul Pelliot and Count Kozui Otani) do not provide the collateral support for Gurdjieff's account which, here and there, might be expected. My chronology for this period is hence offered provisionally and I have not followed it slavishly in my relevant chapter, The Long Search. Nevertheless, punctuating Gurdjieff's narrative and certainly not offending it, are a few objective historical events which I differentiate by italicizing. Where Gurdjieff himself actually stipulates a date, I bracket in the chronology a source reference (using the simple code explained in the References section). Although from 1913 to 1949 our chronology appears to stand on the much firmer ground afforded by primary documents, independent witness, cross-reference, and reasonable inference, the difficulty remains that Gurdjieffian memoirists focus on interior content. For a school which places a premium on relationship, they seem (with the honourable exception of P. D. Ouspensky) strangely oblivious to the correlative value of an honest date. 



1866 ?Jan. G. born in Cappadocian Greek quarter of Alexandropol on Russian side of Russo-Turkish border.
1870-72 Birth of G.'s only brother Dmitri Ivanovitch Gurdjieff (?1870) and eldest sister (?1871).
1873 summer G.'s father Giorgios Giorgiades, impoverished when rinderpest wipes out his large cattle herd, opens a lumber-yard.
1874-76 Birth of two further sisters.
1877 Giorgiades' lumber-yard fails and he opens a small carpentry shop. G. precociously begins to contribute to family income. Russia declares war on Turkey (24 Apr.) and captures Turkish border citadel town of Kars (18 Nov.).
1878 Giorgiades moves his family to Kars, and re-establishes his carpentry shop in the Greek quarter. Father Dean Borsh of Russian military cathedral assumes responsibility for G.'s private education, co-opting as tutors four graduates of the Theological Seminary. G. reads intensively in library of Kars military hospital.
1879-80 G. falls under moral influence of his tutor Dean Bogachevsky.
1881 G.'s eldest and favourite sister dies. G. narrowly escapes death in shooting accident on Lake Alageuz. He becomes fascinated by witnessing certain 'paranormal phenomena'.
1882 In an adolescent duel of sorts with Piotr Karpenko, G. narrowly escapes death on an artillery range.
1883 Leaving home, G. moves to Tiflis but fails to enter the Archdeacon's choir or the Georgian Theological Seminary. During breaks from casual work as a stoker for the Transcaucasian Railway Company, he makes pilgrimage on foot to Echmiadzin and studies for three months at Sanaine Monastery under Father Yevlampios. He develops close friendships with Sarkis Pogossian and Abram Yelov.
1884 G. crystallizes his motivational question as to significance of organic and human life.
1885 summer G. visits Constantinople (where he meets Ekim Bey) to study the Mevlevi and Bektashi dervishes. He returns to Alexandropol, where his parents now again live, via Hadji Bektash, Konya, and Aksehir.
1886 G. and Pogossian, digging haphazardly in the ruined city of Ani, find reference to the 'Sarmoung Brotherhood', supposedly a wisdom school founded in Babylon c. 2500 BC.
1887 As a courier of the Armenian protectionist society, the Armenakans, G. sets out with Pogossian for Kurdistan, quixotically resolved to 'find the Sarmoung'. En route however, his chance discovery near Zakho of a 'map of pre-sand Egypt' diverts him circuitously to Alexandria (where Pogossian leaves him). In Cairo, G. makes a strong bond with two elder seekers: Prince Yuri Lubovedsky and Professor Skridlov.
1888-9 G. visits Thebes with Lubovedsky; Abyssinia and the Sudan with Skridlov; and Mecca and Medina alone and in disguise. G. and Skridlov visit remains of Babylon at Nippur, Iraq. Returning to Constantinople, G. meets Vitvitskaia and escorts her to Russia.
1890-93 As a political envoy (probably of the newly constituted Armenian Social Revolutionary Party, the Dashnakzutiun) G. visits Switzerland and subsequently bases himself in Rome.
1894-5 Sultan Abdul Hamid II instigates massacre of Armenians throughout Turkey. Again centred on Alexandropol, G. is prime mover in the foundation (1895) of the 'Seekers of Truth', a heterogeneous and youthful grouping seeking traditional and esoteric knowledge.
1896 G. goes to Crete, seeking traces of the ancient 'Imastun brotherhood', but also as an agent of the Ethniki Hetairia, a Hellenist Spartacist society. The Greek population revolts (Feb.) against Turks. While in the Sfakia region, G. is shot [TS7] and evacuated, unconscious, to Jerusalem. He recuperates at Alexandropol.
1897 Accompanying the Seekers of Truth, G. sets out[M183] from Nakhichevan (1 Jan.) through Turkestan to Tabriz and Baghdad (Expedition 1). (Episode of Ekim Bey and the Persian dervish.) To facilitate wider travels in Central Asia, G. becomes a Tsarist political agent and ? establishes some connection with the Buryat Mongol Agwhan Dordjieff, a high Tibetan official. With the Seekers G. travels from Orenburg through Sverdlovsk to Siberia (Expedition 2).
1898 In New Bokhara (Easter) G. befriends Soloviev a physical and social derelict. Guided blindfold by intermediaries on a twelve-day pony-trek from Bokhara, G. and Soloviev gain access to the chief Sarmoung Monastery (purported source of G.'s profoundest insights, symbolism and Sacred Dances). Unexpectedly they find Lubovedsky already there but in failing health. To G.'s sorrow, Lubovedsky promptly leaves to end his days under spiritual supervision elsewhere. Following a period of monastic study, G. explores the Gobi (?Taklamakan) desert with Skridlov and the Seekers of Truth (Expedition 3). After Soloviev's accidental death[M165], G. returned to Keriya Oasis.
1899 G. stays in Merv. In dervish disguise he and Skridlov travel up the river Amu Darya (Oxus) into Kafiristan. (Episode of Skridlov and Father Giovanni.) G. returns to Baku and studies Persian magic. In Ashkhabad he and Vitvitskaia (only woman member of the Seekers) earn large sums with his 'Universal Traveling Workshop'.
1900 G. sets out (2 Jan.) from Chardzhou with Seekers (Expedition 4) through the Pamirs to India [M252]. (Episode of Karpenko and the ez-ezounavouron.) The Seekers then disband and separate.
1901 ? G. presented to Tsar Nicholoas II (23 July) in Livadia. ? Disguised as a Transcaspian Buddhist, G. enters Upper Tibet and studies with the 'Red Hat' Lamas. ? He marries a Tibetan.
1902 Shot a second time [TS9] during a mountain clan affray, G. recovers in the Yangi Hissar oasis on the edge of the Taklamakan desert. He takes an oath to abjure hypnotism and animal magnetism except for scientific and altruistic purposes.
1903 G. returns to Tibet. Col. Francis Younghusband invades Tibet (5 Jul.) from India.
1904 British massacre Tibetans at Guru (31 Mar.) Younghusband enters Lhasa (3 Aug.). Anguished at the untimely killing of an initiated lama, G. resolves to combat the mass suggestibility and hysteria which occasion wars. Hydropsy obliges him to leave Tibet and return to his parents in Alexandropol. Having recuperated, G. sets out again (winter) for Central Asia but, near the Chiatura railway tunnel, is accidentally shot a third time [TS9] in a skirmish between Cossacks and Gourians. With difficulty he goes via Ashkabad to Yangi Hissar where he again recuperates.
1905-7 ?After two years in an indeterminate Central Asian Sufi community, G. settles in Tashkent, the Uzbek capital of Russian Turkestan. He briefly visits Samara, comforting Vitvitskaia on her deathbed.
1908-10 Based in Tashkent as a 'Professor-instructor' in supernatural sciences, G. begins teaching in a deliberately charlatanesque mode, while studying the reaction among his Europeanized Russian 'guinea-pigs'. He amasses considerable wealth by trading in oil, fish, cattle, carpets, cloisonné, etc. Slowly he gravitates west towards metropolitan Russia.
1911 G. synthesizes disparate stands of accumulated knowledge into a cohesive system employing a special and at points quasi-scientific, vocabulary. On 13 Sept. he renews his oath [H11] to abjure hypnotism, etc., binding himself for twenty-one years to lead an 'artificial life'.
1912 c. New Year G. arrives in Moscow and attracts his first associates (his cousin Sergei Mercourov, Vladimir Pohl, and Rachmilievitch). ? G. marries Julia Ostrowska in St Petersburg.
mid. G. reads Tertium Organum, identifying its author P.D. Ouspensky as a prospective pupil.
1913 In St Petersburg, under the assumed name of 'Prince Ozay', G. cultivates Lev Lvovitch (?and Shamzaran Badmieff).
winter In St Petersburg G. informally takes his first English pupil, the musical student Paul Dukes.
1914 spring In St Petersburg (having abandoned 'Prince Ozay' persona) G. interests Dr Leonid Stjoernval.
Aug. 1 Germany declares war on Russia. (St Peterburg renamed Petrograd on Sept. 1).
Nov. 13 G. advertises his ballet, The Struggle of the Magicians, inGolos Moskvi (attracting Ouspensky's attention).
Dec. G. supervises his pupils' writing of sketch, Glimpses of Truth.
1915 April In Moscow G. accepts Ouspensky as pupil. (A week later Ouspensky returns to Petrograd.)
autumn G. intermittently visits Petrograd where he lectures and meets Ouspensky and his associates.
1916 Feb.-Aug. Period of concentrated activity: increasingly centred on Petrograd, G. conveys virtually his entire 'System' of ideas to a group which expands from six (incl. Stjoernval, Ourspensky, and Andrei Zaharoff) to thirty.
Aug. On a visit to Finland, G. promotes in Ouspensky an intense telepathic experience.
c. Dec. 16 In Petrograd G. accepts as pupil the composer, Thomas de Hartmann (and in Feb. 1917 his wife Olga).
1917 Feb. 23 Parting from his pupils, a 'transfigured' G. finally leaves Petrograd, setting out via Moscow for Alexandropol with Julia Ostrowska.
Mar. 16 Revolution: forced abdication of Tsar Nicholas II; formation of Kerensky government.
Mar.-Jun. G. lives in retirement with his family in Alexandropol.
Jul. (early) G. sets out for Petrograd but on reconsideration settles in Essentuki in Caucasus.
Jul.-Aug. With thirteen pupils summoned from Moscow and Petrograd (incl. Ouspensky and Zaharoff), G. undertakes six weeks' intensive psycho-somatic experimentation at Essentuki.
Aug. (end) The de Hartmanns join G. at Essentuki. Ouspensky's trust in G. begins to waver. G. moves to Tuapse on Back Sea Coast.
Aug.-Dec. G. and his nucleus (augmented in Oct. by Dr and Mme Stjoernval) wander up and down Black Sea coast to avoid embroilment in Civil War. 7 Nov. (OS 26 Oct.) Bolshevik revolution brings Lenin to power.
1918 spring G. returns to Essentuki (Jan.). Perceiving Alexandropol as under Turkish threat, G. invites his family to join him (all comply except his father and eldest sister); he summons his pupils (12 Feb.) and begins intensive work. Ouspensky separates from G. (Mar.).
Jul. (mid) G.'s eldest sister and her family reach him in Essentuki as refugees, bringing news that Turks have shot his father in Alexandropol on 15 May.
Jul. (late) As Essentuki becomes increasingly threatened by Civil War, G. plants a fabricated newspaper story of his forthcoming 'scientific expedition' to Mount Induc.
Aug. 6 Posing as a scientist, G. leaves Essentuki with a following of fourteen (which does not include G.'s family or Ouspensky). They go by train to Maikop where hostilities detain them three weeks.
Aug.-Sept. Crossing Red and White lines five times, G. leads his party on foot over northern Caucasus range to Black Sea port of Sochi (where many pupils, incl. Zaharoff, leave him).
1919 Jan. (mid) G., with his residual nucleus (Mme Ostrowska, the Stjoernvals, and the de Hartmanns), voyages south from Sochi to Poti, They entrain for the Georgian capital Tbilisi, where they settle.
spring G. meets and accepts as pupils the artist Alexandre Salzmann and his wife Jeanne (Easter). Prompted by the arrival in Tbilisi of his brother Dmitri, G. sends Olga de Harmann (early May) on a return trip to Essentuki to retrieve possessions and carry messages.
summer In collaboration with Jeanne Salzmann, G. gives first public demonstration of his Sacred Dances (Movements in Tbilisi Opera House (22 Jun.). He summers in Borjom (Jul.-Aug.).
autumn Having returned to Tbilisi, G. constitutes (mid-Sept.) his Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man (founder members: Dr Leonid Stjoernval, Thomas and Olga de Hartmann, Alexandre and Jeanne Salzmann, and ? Julia Ostrowska).
winter G. continues to teach his 'System' under the auspices of the Georgian Menshevik social democratic republic. After accepting Elizabeta Galumnian and Olga Hinzenberg ('Olgivanna') as pupils, G. begins intensive work on The Struggle of the Magicians.
1920 spring Marked deterioration in socio-political conditions in Georgia, and in viability of G.'s Institute. He accepts as pupil Major Frank Pinder (Mar.).
May (late) G. leads a party of thirty pupils on foot from Tbilisi to Black Sea port of Batoum, where they embark for Constantinople (Istanbul).
Jun. G. settles in Constantinople (7 Jun.) and rents an apartment in Koumbaradji Street in Péra. Ouspensky (in Constantinople since Feb.) confides his own group of pupils to G.
Jun.-Aug. With Ouspensky and Thomas de Hartmann respectively, G. works on the scenario and music ofThe Struggle of the Magicians; they study the ceremony of the Mevlevi dervishes.
Sept. G. rents substantial accommodation at 13 Abdullatif Yemeneci Sokak near the Galata Tower.
Oct. G. re-animates his Institute, giving public lectures and semi-public rehearsals of the Sacred Dances. (Ouspensky disassociates himself and withdraws to Prinkipo.)
Nov. (mid) G. learns that his sister Anna Anastasieff and all her children (excepting her son Valentin) have just been massacred by Turks at Baytar.
Dec. Thanks to Alexandre Salzmann, G. receives a letter from Jacques-Dalcroze in Geneva, inviting him to settle at Hellerau near Dresden. G. accepts and applies for visas.
1921 Jan. (early) G. renews contact with the Sultan's nephew, Prince Mehmet Sabaheddin, and briefly meets Capt. J.G. Bennett.
May (mid) Following several months of declining public interest, G. closes his Institute and retires to the island of Prinkipo.
Aug. On receipt of visas, G. with his nucleus travels by train from Turkey to Germany; departs Constantinople (13th); arrives Sofia, Bulgaria (15th); arrives Belgrade, Serbia (16th); arrives Budapest, Hungary (17th) and departs (21st); transits Czechoslovakia and arrives Berlin (22nd). (Around this time, Ouspensky leaves Constantinople for London but his wife Sophie chooses to accompany G.)
Sept. Having settled in the suburb on Schmargendorf, G. adopts Olga de H. as his private secretary.
Nov. 24 In Berlin G. gives his inaugural lecture in Europe.
winter Accompanied by the Salzmanns, G. visits the Dalcroze Institute at Hellerau, and through Harald Dohrn seeks part possession; a legal case ensues.
1922 Feb. 13 G. pays his first brief visit to London, capturing the allegiance of Ouspensky's many prominent pupils, notably the editor A. R. Orage.
Mar. 15 On G.'s second and last visit to London, he confirms his ascendancy and clashes with Ouspensky. While influential pupils seek UK residential status for G., he returns to Berlin.
Late spring G. issues his third prospectus in English, German, and French.
Jun. G. loses civil action to acquire Hellerau possession, and is effectively barred from settling in Britain.
Jul. 14 G. brings his pupils from Germany to Paris, hires facilities at the Dalcroze Institute, and delegates Olga de H. to seek a large property.
Oct. 1 On the basis of generous financial help from England, G. acquires and moves to his most famous seat: the Prieuré des Basses Loges at Fontainebleau-Avon.
Oct. G. is simultaneously occupied with Prieuré administration and Parisian business ventures. On 17 Oct. he accepts as a permanent Prieuré guest the terminally ill new Zealand authoress Katherine Mansfield.
Nov. G. begins intense work on the Sacred Dances. At end of Nov. he institutes the building of a large Study House in the Prieuré grounds.
Dec. 16 G. averts a major fire at the Prieuré.
1923 Jan. G. acquires notoriety after Katherine Mansfield dies (9th) and is buried on the same day (12th) that the Study House is opened.
Feb. Reporters (notably E. C. Bowyer) and academics (notably Prof. Denis Saurat) interview G. at the Prieuré and produce popular but not unsympathetic accounts.
May G. learns to drive. At his new Paris apartment, 9 Rue du Commandant-Marchand, he entertains Ezra Pound.
summer G.'s 'open evenings' of his music, Sacred Dances, etc., given in the Prieuré Study House, are regularly attended by local dignitaries and occasionally by cultural figures, e.g. Diaghilev and Sinclair Lewis.
Dec. Although fatigued, G. produces his first major public demonstration of Sacred Dances in Europe. Premièred (16th) at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, it has a mixed reception. G. extricates his mother and sister from Russia and domiciles them at the Prieuré.
1924 spring With c. thirty-five pupil-dancers, G. sails (4 Jan.) on the s.s. Paris for America, where public demonstrations in New York (Jan.-Feb.) and Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago (Mar.) secure the interest of significant new pupils (notably Margaret Anderson, Muriel Draper, Jane Heap, Gorham Munson, C. S. Nott, and Jean Toomer). G. founds New York branch of his Institute (8 Apr.).
summer G. returns to France (Jun.). He loses occupancy of Commandant-Marchand and acquires a new apartment at 47 Boulevard Peréire. Driving alone from Paris to Fontainebleau, G. has a near fatal motor-car crash (8 Jul.). Nursed by his wife and mother, he makes a slow and painful recovery-against medical expectation. Still convalescent, G. formally 'disbands' his Institute (26 Aug.) but in fact disperses only his less dedicated pupils.
autumn- winter G. empowers Orage to supervise the Work in America (Oct.). Having resolved in future to propagate his ideas by writing, G. commences (16 Dec.) his magnum opus: Beelzebub.
1925 Mar. Orage's report that the first installment of Beelzebub in unintelligible, heralds G.'s long stylistic struggle.
summer G.'s mother dies of chronic liver disease at the Prieuré (end Jun.). G. begins intensive period of musical composition with Thomas de Hartmann (29 Jul.).
winter G.'s wife Mme Ostrowska contracts cancer. Neither orthodox radiotherapy nor G.'s unorthodox treatment gives satisfactory results.
1926 Jan. 8 Mabel Dodge Luhan offers G. substantial property at Taos, New Mexico, but (1 Feb.) he declines.
Feb.-Jun. G. struggles intensely but unavailingly for Julia Ostrowska's life but she dies (26 Jun.). Ouspensky attends her funeral.
Jul. Aleister Crowley briefly visits Prieuré and G. emphatically repudiates him.
1927 spring Short of money, G. is obliged to relinquish his flat in Boulevard Péreire (16 Apr.). G. culminates his musical collaboration with Thomas de Hartmann (1 May).
summer Many American pupils and voyeurists visit Prieuré. G. meets, but fails to impress, his future secretary Solita Solano. He repudiates the poet Waldo Frank.
autumn Convinced by a serious decline in health that he has insufficient time to undertake a necessary and radical revision of Beelzebub he undergoes a crisis (6 Nov.) and contemplates suicide.
1928 Jan. (mid) A. R. Orage, accompanied by his young bride Jessie, makes a brief, stormy, and final visit to the Prieuré.
May 5 To stimulate his writing G. vows to 'banish' on various pretexts all those who make his life too comfortable.
summer (early) G. encourages senior pupils away on extended visits: Mme Ouspensky to England, and the Salzmanns to Frankfurt. He discourages Jane Heap from settling at the Prieuré, but mandates her to start an 'artists' group' in Montmartre.
summer (late) Alexandre Salzmann defends G. against ideological attacks of French occultist René Guénon.
autumn Provisionally satisfied with Beelzebub, G. commences his second book Meetings.
1929 Jan. Accompanied only by the de Hartmanns, G. embarks on s.s Paris for his second visit to America. They resist his promptings to make independent lives.
spring Between arrival in New York (23 Jan.) and departure for France (5 Apr.) G. renews contacts with pupils and amasses funds.
summer (early) G. again prompts Mme Ouspensky to visit England. He finally prevails on the de Hartmanns to leave the Prieuré and helps them settle in Courbevoie. He appoints Louise Goepfert as his secretary (Jun.).
autumn G. facilitates the departure of Fritz Peters from the Prieuré (Sept.). On visits to Frankfurt and Berlin with Louise Goepfert and Olga de Hartmann, G. intentionally alienates Olga. The Wall Street stock market crash (Oct. ) affects G.'s American followers.
1930 spring After burning all his personal papers, and engineering a painful and final parting from Olga de Hartmann, G. sails (Feb.) aboard s.s. Bremen on his third trip to America. In New York he intentionally creates difficulties, sabotaging negotiations with Alfred Knopf to publish Beelzebub. He sails for France (Apr.) leaving Orage disillusioned.
autumn (late) In Paris Alexandre Salzmann attracts René Daumal (subsequently G.'s first French pupil).
winter On a fourth trip to America, G. effectively breaks with Orage. Arriving in New York (13 Nov.), he demands (1 Dec.) of Orage's pupils that they repudiate their teacher. Orage himself returns (10 Dec.) from holiday in England and surprisingly endorses G.'s action, repudiating himself. G. leaves for Chicago (29 Dec.).
1931 Jan. Returning to New York, G. has an inconclusive encounter with certain intellectuals, including John Watson, the behaviourist.
Mar. 13 After a final parting from Orage, G. sails for France, leaving the American groups in disarray.
spring G. briefly receives Thornton Wilder at the Prieuré.
summer G. refuses Ouspensky access to the Prieuré, creating a final breach. Mme Ouspensky leaves Asnières and moves permanently to England.
autumn G. is involved in a theatrical incident with a revolver.
winter G. sails (Nov.) on fifth, brief visit to the USA, focusing on Jean Toomer's Chicago group. In New York the author-adventurer Nadir Khan ('Achmed Abdullah') mistakes G. for the Lama Agwhan Dordjieff.
1932 Jan. 16 G. sails for Cherbourg on the s.s. Bremen.
Feb. In Paris G. is approached by the American lesbian authoress, Kathryn Hulme, a member of Jane Heap's group; he shows her the Prieuré, now run down.
May 11 G. supervises the enforced closure of the Prieuré and dispersal of its final occupants; he takes a room in the Grand Hôtel, adjoining the Café de la Paix.
Aug. Orage refuses an opportunity to renew contact with G.
Sept. 13 G. begins drafting his controversial, autobiographical tract Herald.
winter On a disastrous sixth visit to America G. gives an impression of venality, alienating Jean Toomer and his Chicago group.
1933 Mar. 7 G. writes bizarre 'Supplementary Announcement' toHerald.
Apr. Alexandre Salzmann, critically ill, meets G. at the Café Henri IV in Fontainebleau.
May? G. loses the Prieuré irrevocably after the mortgagees foreclose.
autumn G. commences his seventh visit to the USA. From his apartment at the Henry Hudson Hotel, he renews contact with New York pupils of Orage.
1934 spring Death of Alexandre Gustav Salzmann (3 Mar.). G. visits the Chicago groups (May), intentionally alienating Fritz Peters on the train journey.
summer G. pays an extended visit to Olgivanna at Taliesin, Wisconsin (Jun.-Jul.), deeply impressing her husband Frank Lloyd Wright. Mabel Dodge Luhan refuses G.'s request (18 Aug.) for the ranch she originally volunteered in Jan. 1926. Back in New York (Sept.), G. gives two unfortunate interviews to the popular writer Rom Landau.
autumn- winter G. repudiates Herald and calls in all copies (Oct.). Shocked to learn of Orage's death (5 Nov.), and wishing to avoid a spate of empty condolences, G. travels to Washington, Boston, Chicago and certain Southern States.
1935 Jan. G. returns to New York.
Apr.-May Conjectural events attend G.'s completion (9 Apr.) of the Prologue to Life is Real. He travels to Washington anticipating, from a Senator Bronson Cutting, generous financial support to repurchase the Prieuré. Profoundly depressed when Cutting dies (6 May) in an air crash, G. applies unsuccessfully to return to Russia. Doubly disappointed, he abandons writing and disappears.
Jun.-Aug. G. makes putative but unsubstantiated journeys to? Germany, Leningrad and Central Asia.
Sept. Rom Landau publishes his bestseller God is My Adventure, vilifying G. and confusing him with Dordjieff.
Oct. G. reappears in Paris. Jane Heap moves (18th) from Paris to London. Three of her American women pupils immediately gravitate to G. who constitutes his first Parisian group (21st) in Hôtel Napoleon Bonaparte.
Christmas G. takes new apartment in Rue Labie near the Salle Pleyel.
1936 spring G. constitutes 'The Rope' (early Jan.), an exclusively lesbian group meeting in Rue Labie (initially comprising Elizabeth Gordon, Solita Solano, Kathryn Hulme and 'Wendy'.) He makes many tours by car to European locales.
Jun. G. gives Georgette Leblanc, Margaret Anderson and Monique entrée to his current work, though not to 'The Rope'.
Jul. (end) Having temporarily suspended group work with his lesbian pupils, G. makes his first token contact with René Daumal and Jeanne de Salzmann's Sèrves group.
Aug. Unable to afford a château he has located on the Marne, G. moves to a small Paris apartment at 6 Rue des Colonels Rénard.
winter On reconvening his lesbian group (Oct.), G. finds Georgette Leblanc seriously ill, but he alleviates her condition.
1937 spring G. resumes extensive car trips. His brother Dmitri contracts cancer.
Aug. Dmitri dies, despite G.'s effort to help him.
autumn 'The Rope' and subsidiary lesbian groupings effectively dissolve (as Kathryn Hulme and Wendy settle in America, and Anderson and Leblanc in Normandy). Solita Solano becomes G.'s secretary.
1938 Dr Leonid Stjoernval dies near Reims. (Apr.). As Jeanne de Salzmann adds the author Luc Dietrich to her existing circle of pupils (René and Vera Daumal, Philippe Lavastine, Henri and Henriette Tracol, etc.), G. implicitly confirms her as his deputy.
1939 spring Accompanied by Solita Solano, G. sails (Mar.) on s.s.Paris on his brief penultimate trip to America. The international crisis steadily worsens. Having resisted pressure to settle in New Jersey, G. sails (19 May) on s.s. Normandie for France.
summer G. contemplates trip to England to assist Mme Ouspensky medically, but Ouspensky disapproves and the plan is dropped.
autumn Outbreak (1 Sept.) of the Second World War. G. remains in Paris (throughout War) at 6 Rue des Colonels Rénard, which he stocks with provisions.
1940 spring Jeanne de Salzmann's group, meeting at 54 Rue du Four, grows in size and influence. G. consolidates his contact with Philippe Lavastine and René Daumal.
Jun. With Allied resistance collapsing, G.'s followers attempt (12th) to relocate him in the countryside but he returns to 6 Rue des Colonels Rénard (14th) just as Germans occupy Paris.
winter Food being scarce and the weather exceptionally harsh, G. begins helping an extended family of needy neighbors. Jeanne de Salzmann formally presents her French group to G. (Oct.).
1941 G.'s French group meeting at 6 Rue des Colonels Rénard enlarges. Hitler's invasion of Russia (22 Jun.) and America's declaration of war on Germany (11 Dec.) predicate the ultimate liberation of Paris. Georgette Leblanc dies (20 Oct.) of cancer.
1942 spring To obtain further credit, G. fabricates story that he has been give a Texas oil-well.
May 29 G. advises his Jewish pupils to 'go underground' whenthe Germans oblige them to wear the yellow Star of David.They are harboured by Christian group members.
Jun. (late) Jeanne de Salzmann presents Luc Dietrich to G.
Jul.16-17 G.'s advice is vindicated as Parisian Jews are deported in 'Operation spring Wind'. René and Vera Daumal no longer have access to G.
Nov. Germans overrun France's Unoccupied Zone.
1943 Further influx of French pupils. G. active in teaching enneagram-based Movements at the Salle Pleyel and developing his ritual 'Toasts to the Idiots'.
1944 Death of René Daumal (21 May) and Luc Dietrich (12 Aug.) precedes liberation of Paris (25 Aug.). In autumn G. is arrested for currency offences but discharged.
1945 Hitler's suicide (30 Apr.) and VE Day (6 May). G. receives first visits of American pupils (Kathryn Hulme and Fritz Peters). He attracts unwarranted criticism over the death of Irène-Carole Reweliotty (11 Aug.) Japan's surrender (14 Aug.) ends war. Lise Tracol becomes G.'s residential housekeeper.
1946 G.'s relationship with Katherine Mansfield is pilloried in the magazines l'Illustration (19 Jan.). First influx of London pupils to Paris from Jane Heap's group.
1947 Ouspensky returns to England (Jan.) from America. G. invites him to Paris but Ouspensky declines. When Ouspensky dies (2 Oct.) Mme Ouspensky, still at Mendham, makes overtures to G.
1948 Jan. Mme Ouspensky advises her husband's British followers at Lyne to contact G.
summer G. summons Ouspensky's pupils (Jun.) but they still vacillate. He reintegrates J. G. Bennett in his work (after twenty-five years) and cures his wife Winifred (Aug.). G. recovers astonishingly after serious injury in a car crash (8 Aug.) and promptly issues a general invitation to Paris: pupils of Jane Heap, Ouspensky, Mme Ouspensky, Orage, Bennett (but not Nicoll) commingle with French.
winter Eager to buy the Château de Voisins and to publish Beelzebub, G. sails for New York (arr. 17 Dec.). Here he raises funds and authorizes Mme Ouspensky to publish Fragments.
1949 spring Announcing Beelzebub's imminent publication, G. nominates three literary executors (J. G. Bennett, Lord Pentland, and René Zuber). He sails for France (Feb.) in Queen Mary with large entourage (including Iovanna Lloyd Wright).
summer G. makes car expeditions to Vichy (Jun.); Geneva (Jul.) to meet Mme Stjoernval; and finally Montignac (Aug.) to see the Lascaux cave paintings. His ideas are favourably mentioned on Italian radio in connection with the Montessori system.
Sept. G. announces he will sail for New York on 20 Oct.; he buys La Grand Paroisse, ostensibly as a new centre.
Oct. Under intense pressures G.'s health fails. Having choreographed (No. 39) his last Movement (11th), he collapses at Movements class (14th). Nursed by Lise Tracol and surrounded by doctors, his condition fluctuates. Receipt of Beelzebub's proofs (21st) suggests the apotheosis of his life's work. Seriously ill, he supervises the Toasts to the Idiots for the last time (24th). He is taken by ambulance to the American Hospital at Neuilly (26th), where Dr Welch performs an abdominal puncture. G. gives his final instructions to Jeanne de Salzmann (27th), becomes unconscious (28th), and dies around 10.30am (29th). Religious services are held on successive days.
Nov.3 G. is buried in the family plot at Fontainebleau-Avon. Under the leadership of Jeanne de Salzmann, his groups re-dedicate themselves to practise and transmit his ideas.

 Key to References [Excerpt]


The Herald of Coming Good
Meetings with Remarkable Men
Life Is Real Only Then, When "I Am"

© James Moore 1991
First published in Gurdjieff: the Anatomy of a Myth
and reproduced by kind permission of the author