Idiots in Paris: Diaries of Elizabeth & JG Bennett
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The 1949 Diaries of Elizabeth & JG Bennett • Trade Paperback • 136 pages
Elizabeth & J.G. Bennett=Author
In 1949, JG Bennett was engaged, with Gurdjieff's help
and guidance, in a titanic struggle with his own nature,
which he describes in these diaries and, with more
perspective, in his autobiography, Witness: The Story
of a Search.
Elizabeth's Diary, which makes up the bulk of this book,
has a different value. It is simply as a witness to
conditions in Gurdjieff's circle at the end of his life.
Elizabeth's diary shares with the account of Rina Hands
- The Diary of Madam Egout Pour Sweet - the virtue
of being a straightforward description with very little
"self" in it.
In the 21st century, when there are few people left alive
who "knew" the Armenian mystic philosopher Georges
Ivanovitch Gurdjieff (d. 1949), it is all the more
important to have such honest and impartial eyewitness
accounts as the one Elizabeth Bennett presents here.
Elizabeth's original introduction, included in this new
edition, and the diaries themselves outline far better
than any later commentator can the conditions in which
Gurdjieff's pupils lived, satellites revolving round a
In her introduction, Elizabeth Bennett explains that the book
is "designed to help those readers who are not familiar with
the activities and environment of Gurdjieff and his followers."
Twice daily the group would go through a series of rituals.
Of these rituals, perhaps the most significant was the one
known as the "toast of the idiots." The "science of idiotism"
that Gurdjieff taught portrayed the whole human situation
and the hazards of attaining liberation. Elizabeth Bennett
writes, "The exact repetition of the external framework left
one free to attend to the shifting responsibilities of the inner
world. Every moment in Gurdjieff's presence was a chance
to learn, if one was sufficiently awake to take the chance."
This edition contains new material.
Unpublished entries from Elizabeth Bennett's Paris diary.
A foreword essay by George Bennett.