Paul Beekman Taylor

SINCE THE LAST full life of G. I. Gurdjieff appeared in 1991, a number of books have corrected received facts and disclosed new information on selected portions of his life; but, the recent availability of formerly guarded records in the former Soviet Union, and the accumulation of facts in web sites concerning Gurdjieff, his family and his followers, call for disclosure. Considering the rapid expansion of interest in his work, there is need for a fresh historical account of the man who brought the Fourth Way into the consciousness of tens of thousands of people.

Relying on extant evidence, this biography begins with a broad survey of known facts concerning his family and his upbringing, including a review of the conflicting evidence of the exact date of his birth. Taylor traces the likely movements of Gurdjieff in Asia and in Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century, and details his work from 1915 until the end of his life forty-four years later.

Previously ignored information about Gurdjieff during this period is noted on his various passports, beginning with his 1920 Armenian passport, the Nansen passport which he carried in Germany and France, the German 'Fremdenpass' he acquired in New York in the mid-thirties, and finally a French passport he obtained in the mid-forties.

Taylor accumulates information from many sources concerning Gurdjieff's relations with prominent Americans who supported his Institute For The Harmonious Development of Man financially during the last twenty-five years of his life. He outlines his attempts to establish the Institute in the United States at Olgivanna and Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin East in Wisconsin, Mabel Luhan's ranch in Taos, New Mexico, Marjorie Content and Jean Toomer's Mill House in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and New York City where his emissary, A. R. Orage, had formed a well-organized and faithful body of followers of Gurdjieff's ideas since 1924.

This biography stands apart from other biographical writings about Gurdjieff by emphasizing his relations with the many children for whom he played a fatherly role in the Caucasus, Fontainebleau, and New York City. It includes as well a review of Gurdjieff's misunderstood relations with the women who bore his children. In effect, this scan of his life covers virtually every significant aspect of his extraordinary life and brings to light photographs which have not been available to readers