G. I. Gurdjieff Criticism - Essay

Kenneth Walker (essay date 1951)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Greatness of Gurdjieff," in The Saturday Book, Vol. 10, 1951, pp. 86-91.

[In the following essay, Walker provides an appreciation of Gurdjieff.]

What constitutes a great man? In the past I have often asked my friends this question and none of them have ever been able to give me a satisfactory answer. It is a searching question because actually we know far less about the nature of man than about anything else. It is easy to describe the good points of a horse, but we can only define the qualities of a great man if we know the direction in which it is possible for man to evolve, and there is no agreement on this subject.

Because they have...

(The entire section is 2745 words.)

Kenneth Walker (essay date 1957)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Gurdjieff and Ouspensky," in A Study of Gurdjieff's Teaching, Jonathan Cape, 1957, pp. 11-18.

[In the following essay, Walker recounts the development of Gurdjieff's major theories.]


It is fascinating, and at the same time rather alarming, to look back along the line of the past and to note how thin was the thread which the Fates spun and how easily it could have been broken—and if it had been broken, then one's life would, of course, have been quite different. How little I guessed that when a young Russian journalist on the night staff of a St. Petersburg newspaper made a journey to Moscow in the spring of...

(The entire section is 8061 words.)

J. G. Bennett (essay date 1973)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Is There an 'Inner Circle' of Humanity?," in Gurdjieff: Making a New World, Bennett Books, 1973, pp. 38-60.

[In the following essay, Bennett discusses Gurdjieff's theory of the "inner circle of humanity."]

Reports of brotherhoods whose members possess wisdom and powers that are different from and more significant than those of ordinary people suggest that they may be founded in fact and should be taken seriously. The supposition that such people have existed in the past, and that they decisively influenced human life in ways that ordinary people cannot understand, is the hypothesis that an Inner Circle of Humanity existed in the past. If we extend the idea to...

(The entire section is 11441 words.)

Michel Waldberg (essay date 1973)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Reflections on the 'Inhumanity' of Gurdjieff," in Gurdjieff: An Approach to His Ideas, translated by Steve Cox, Arkana, 1973, pp. 1-31.

[In the following essay, Waldberg examines Gurdjieff's major works.]


The name of Gurdjieff almost always arouses suspicion or hostility. The man is usually described as a kind of werewolf or cynical tyrant, demanding much from others and little from himself, making use of his disciples for mysterious ends, seeking powers rather than virtue, and with an absolute contempt for the whole of humanity.

As for his teaching, it is supposed to be...

(The entire section is 6745 words.)

B. A. St. Andrews (essay date 1988)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Gurdjieff and the Literary Cult," in The University of Windsor Review, Vol. 21, No. 2, 1988, pp. 46-51.

[In the following essay, St. Andrews examines the group of literary figures, including Katherine Mansfield and Jean Toomer, that followed Gurdjieff's teachings.]

Many and strange are the tales from the literary crypt. As any quick look at James Sutherland's fascinating Oxford Book of Literary Anecdotes or Donald Hall's American corollary proves, writers seek the ever-elusive Muse in some strange places. Almost with abandon, they delve into cults and the occult; they pursue spiritualists and mystics, sometimes finding inspiration, often times not. But...

(The entire section is 2521 words.)