Spring 2019 Issue, Vol. XIII 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.
Pupils of Gurdjieff III
In this, our twenty-third issue, we continue with our theme of Gurdjieff’s first generation of pupils.
As before, those who have written for this issue—the pupils of this first generation—describe their
teachers with candor and deep affection.
As we read about Mr. Gurdjieff’s work with his original pupils and as some of us remember those pupils as our teachers,
we realize that we may not yet have learned all there is to learn from them.
How did they face the daunting task of passing on what they had come to understand
to those who came to the Work after Mr. Gurdjieff’s death?
Today, we face a similarly daunting task.
Martin Benson (1898–1971) met Gurdjieff in France in the early 1930s. He experimented with farming methods in Europe, and his original and inventive ideas were behind studies at Mendham and Armonk including glass-blowing, iron work, and the creation of an Aeolian wind harp.
A poem about Martin Benson which evokes the presence of this one-of-a kind man of the earth and teacher.
“You caught what you could and put it in your bag, knowing that it didn’t add up to a whole, but represented the whole directly.”
Rita Benson (1900–1980) coached many famous actors and directed the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She met Gurdjieff in 1923, and in the early 1930s served as his secretary. An active member of the New York Foundation, she led a Bunraku theatre study at Armonk.
Solange Claustres (1920–2015) was born in Tunisia and studied music in Marseille as a young girl. When she was 20 she joined a group in Paris with Mme. de Salzmann and was in a Movements class with Mr. Gurdjieff. She later served as a Movements instructor in the Paris Foundation for the rest of her life.
A native of British Columbia, Bernard Courtenay Mayers (1916–2012) served in the British Royal Army Medical Corps during the Second World War. He met Gurdjieff in 1948, and later became an active member of the London Society, where he was elected Chairman of the Council in 1988.
Born in Ohio, Dorothea Dooling (1910–1991) met Mr. Gurdjieff in 1942 and was the first secretary of the New York Gurdjieff Foundation. She carried responsibility for the groups in Boston and Lima, Peru, and was the founding editor of Parabola Magazine.
Didier Mouturat & Ellen Reynard
Niece of Henri Tracol, Lise Tracol Etievan (1930– ) has been in the Gurdjieff Work her whole life. As a young girl, she took care of Mr. Gurdjieff towards the end of his life. In the 1950s she married Alfred Etievant and moved with him to New York. After Alfred’s death she moved back to France with her two daughters, where she carried responsibility for the Movements at the Paris Foundation for many years.
Marthe de Gaigneron (1912–2016) studied classical dance with Alexandre Volinine. She met Gurdjieff in 1943 and attended his Movements classes. She later served as a principal instructor of Movements in Paris and London.
Kathryn Hulme (1900–1981), author of The Nun’s Story, met Gurdjieff in Paris in the 1930s. There, she participated in the meetings of “The Women of the Rope,” an experience she described in her book, Undiscovered Country. After Gurdjieff’s death, Kathryn converted to Catholicism.
Lord Pentland (1907–1984) was a pupil of P. D. Ouspensky from 1937 until Ouspensky's death in 1947, and in 1949 he met Gurdjieff. Pentland was a director and vice president of the American British Electric Corporation and served as president of the Gurdjieff Foundation of New York from its establishment in 1953 until his death.
Born in England, Lady Pentland (1915–2005) worked with P. D. Ouspensky in London and met Mr. Gurdjieff in 1949. She married Lord Pentland and after the war, moved with him to the United States. She was a stalwart participant in the activities of the New York Foundation.
Josée de Salzmann (1923–1991), a student of the Dalcroze system, met Gurdjieff in 1943. She was an instructor of adult and children’s Movements in Paris, Holland, and Switzerland. For many years, Josée and her husband, Michel de Salzmann, led summer work periods at Chandolin, the Geneva group’s property in the Swiss Alps.
With her husband, Bill Segal, Cora Segal (1908–1970) met Gurdjieff in the 1940s and went on to become one of the leaders of the New York Foundation. Professionally, she worked as a writer, journalist, school teacher, and editor at the American Fabrics and Gentry magazines.
A resident at Franklin Farms, Beatrice Sinclair (1919–2008) met Gurdjieff in his last visit to the United States in 1949. She and her husband Frank Sinclair moved to Rockland County where Beatrice worked as a potter. For many years she was a Movements instructor at the NY Foundation.
In the 1930s, A. L. Staveley (1906–1996) met P. D. Ouspensky in London. She then met Jane Heap with whom she studied the ideas of Gurdjieff. At the end of the Second World War, she went to Paris to work with Mr. Gurdjieff himself. Eventually, she moved to Aurora, Oregon where she established Two Rivers Farm for further study of Gurdjieff’s teaching.
After meeting Mr. Gurdjieff at Mendham in 1947, Evelyn Sutta (1905–1979) went to France where she was one of the typists for the manuscript of All and Everything. She participated in activities of the New York Foundation until her retirement to Florida in 1973, where she founded the Miami group.
Henri Thomasson (1912–1996) met Gurdjieff through Henriette Lannes, who remained his teacher after Gurdjieff’s death. When Mme. Lannes moved to London, Thomasson assumed responsibility for her groups in Italy and Lyon, France.
Author of the book Cane, Jean Toomer (1894–1967) met Gurdjieff in New York in 1924. Toomer established the group in Chicago in 1926. He later broke with Gurdjieff and became a Quaker. Towards the end of his life he returned to the Work as a pupil of Louise Welch.
Demade, Bonacina, Mouturat, Vaigot
A native of France, Henri Tracol (1909–1997) met Gurdjieff in 1938. He worked as a journalist, photographer, sculptor, and was at one time employed by the Musée de l’Homme in Paris. He visited London and the US frequently and served as President of the Gurdjieff Institute in Paris.
It was Henri Tracol’s very great wish that the study of other traditions be kept alive in England and in other centers of Gurdjieff’s teaching. Thanks to his influence several study groups are still engaged in this work.
Alsatian by birth, René Zuber (1902–1979) met Gurdjieff in 1943 and later worked with Mme. de Salzmann in the creation of films of the Movements. Professionally, he worked as an independent film maker, and was the author of Who Are You, Monsieur Gurdjieff?
An Interview with Alexandre de Salzmann
Alexandre de Salzmann is a medical doctor, son of Michel de Salzmann and grandson of Jeanne de Salzmann. Before he died in 1949, Gurdjieff directed Jeanne de Salzmann to carry on the teaching and to regroup the students who were directly guided by Gurdjieff. Later, Michel de Salzmann was the leader of those groups and supported the teaching so that it could continue. It was in this environment that Alexandre de Salzmann was born and raised. Today he continues his search at the Gurdjieff Institute in Paris.
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.