This page is an effort to bring to the attention of interested readers the degree of revision that has occurred in G.I. Gurdjieff’s most well known book, Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, since its first publication in 1950. Gurdjieff put an extraordinary amount of effort into the writing and translation of this book. Begun in 1924, it was read aloud to groups of Gurdjieff’s students extensively, then revised based on the effect it produced on its listeners. Some parts of the book were reportedly rewritten as many as thirty times before they were considered satisfactory by the author.1
The original text was written or dictated in Russian and Armenian. It was then translated into Russian and English by pupils of Gurdjieff, under his close supervision.2 Translations were read aloud and revised extensively between 1924 and Gurdjieff’s death in 1949.3 Shortly before he died, Gurdjieff approved the final printer’s proofs of the English version, which was published in 1950.
In 1992 a revised version of Beelzebub’s Tales appeared, also referred to as a “revised translation.” This revision, undertaken under the direction of Jeanne de Salzmann by unidentified members of Gurdjieff groups in New York and Paris4, contains substantial changes to both content and presentation. The adjustments are curiously systematic: hardly a single paragraph in the 1238-page book remains unmodified.
We have used an electronic text comparison tool to highlight differences between the original version and the revised version. Excerpts from this comparison are included at the bottom of this page.
Publication timeline of Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson:
1924: Gurdieff begins work on Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson5
1931: “very limited” number of copies of the draft English version printed privately6
1949: Gurdjieff approves the English galley proofs of Beelzebub’s Tales shortly before his death
1950: English edition of Beelzebub’s Tales published by Harcourt, Brace & Company (New York) and Routledge & Kegan Paul (London), copyright G.I. Gurdjieff7
German translation from the English by Louise March published8
1956: French translation published, after further editing under the direction of Jeanne de Salzmann9
1964: Reprint of 1950 edition by E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc.
1973: Three volume paperback edition published in New York by E.P. Dutton & Co containing minor corrections to misprints but otherwise the same text as the original 1950 edition.
1974: Three volume paperback edition published in London by Routledge & Kegan Paul
1990: Death of Jeanne de Salzmann10
1992: Substantially revised version of Beelzebub’s Tales published by Penguin/Viking Arkana, copyright Triangle Editions, Inc.
1993: Facsimile reproduction of original 1950 edition published by Two Rivers Press (ISBN-10: 0897560221 & ISBN-13: 978-0897560221 ASIN: 0897560205)
1999: Single volume paperback edition of original 1950 text with typographical corrections and the addition of two missing paragraphs published by Penguin Compass (ISBN-10: 0140194738 ISBN-13: 978-0140194739)
2006: Reprint of 1992 revision (with an added Publisher’s Note) published by Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin (ISBN-10: 1585424579 ISBN-13: 978-1585424573)
For a more extensive history of publications in various languages see Publication History of G.I. Gurdjieff’s Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson http://www.dolmenmeadoweditions.com/5_BeelzebubsTales/BeelzebubsTales-History.htm
As was mentioned above, almost every paragraph contains either minor or major changes compared to the original 1950 version. In this section we collect a few key examples to illustrate these differences. Some are of minor, but distinct, changes in key concepts while other are complete additions and or removals of the original text. We will use the original 1950 version as a template, and below all page references are with respect to that publication.
Ordinary text indicates passages that are present in both the original and revised versions
indicates passages that were in the original but not in the revision
Red struck out text
Blue underlined text indicates passages that are in the revision but not in the original
Note that these changes are in no way unique and similar examples can be found on almost every page through out the book.
“And from “From that very day forth he ‘wiseacred’ away at his new ‘Gospel.’ But gospel. And from the moment it was only when he had finished it, however, and had given it to the printers, that all the further events connected with this new ‘Gospel’ printer, there began a whole series of his began. unexpected events.
“Owing to these conditions conditions, the duration of their existence has, down to the present time, continued to has become shorter and shorter, and now is already diminished to such a degree that, at the present time, the difference between the duration of the process of the existence shorter so that now, if one compares it with that of the three-brained beings of other planets in the whole of the Universe and the duration of the process of the existence of the three-brained beings of the planet Earth has become the same as Universe,the difference is as great as between the real duration of their existence and the own duration ofthe existence and that of the infinitesimal beings in that the drop of water we took as an example.
On the pages that explain the prime-source substance of the Universe, the revised version is substantially shortened, and the spelling of Etherokrilno is also changed.
“Etherokrilno is that prime-source substance with which the whole Universe is filled, and which is the basis for the arising and maintenance of everything existing. “Not only is this Etherokrilno the basis for the arising of all cosmic concentrations without exception, both large and small, but also all cosmic phenomena in general proceed during some transformation in this same fundamental cosmic substance as well as during the processes of the involution and evolution of various crystallizations-or, as your favorites say, of those active elements-which have obtained and still continue toobtain their prime arising from this same fundamental prime-source cosmic substance. “Bear in mind, here, that it is just because of this that the mentioned Objective Science says that ‘everything without exception in the Universe is material.’
‘Ethernokrilno’ is the primordial substance with which the whole Universe is filled, and which is the basis for the arising and maintenance of everything that exists. “In regard to this. Objective Science declares that everything in the Universe without exception is material.
“Little by little they so completely changed these indications and counsels of His that if should their Saintly Author
Himself should chance to appear reappear there and for some reason or other should wish to make Himself acquainted with learn about them, He would not be able never even to suspect that he himself had given these indications and counsels were made by Him Himself. counsels.
“So, my boy, when, as “As I have already told you, those three-centered beings there among the second and third generation of the contemporaries of Saint Buddha in whose psyche, already my boy, from the time of the loss of Atlantis, that peculiarity had been fixed, Atlantis the property called the ‘organic-psychic ‘psycho-organic need to wiseacre,’ began-unfortunately for wiseacre’ had become fixed in the psyche of your favorites. (sentence continues in original version)
Since the ‘Gurdjieff Movements’ have been one of the trademarks of the Gurdjieff Foundation, the revision below is especially interesting.
“And in general it was just in
all these ‘otherwises’ that the learned beings of that group this group, by means of a conventional what is called ‘alphabet,’ indicated in the movements postures of the participants in the given religious ceremony, by a conventional what is called ‘alphabet,’ those ceremony the ideas which they intended should be transmitted through these ceremonies to the men-beings of transmit to their remote descendants.
Below is an example where the revised version has added completely new (and somewhat controversial) material
“But “And if various women noticed that she had begun to manifest toward her children with a weakening of her maternal impulses, then under the same conditions those around instinct toward her children, she was condemned her according to this law to go about everywhere, also for a definite term, with the left half other face made up and painted white and red.
“And if, following the same procedure, it was established that a woman manifested an inclination to avert the possibility of conceiving a new being for the prolongation of her species, she was condemned to appear before others with her face made up and also painted white and
red. red, but this time only on the right halt.
Further added material not found in the original version:
“There once resounded from them
“His profession, by the way, was highly original, even according to the notions of the beings of this incomparable planet He was famous in his own country as one of the best specialists in the art of adorning the faces of his clients with the ‘scars’ so dear to the students of German universities.
“One day I heard a
very nervous rapping on the wall of my room.
Change in the definition of the law Heptaparaparshinokh.
‘The flow of forces follows a line that constantly deflects at specific intervals and unites again at its ends. ‘
“And, namely, with “To provide the
purpose stopinder between the third and fourth ‘points of providing deflection’ with the ‘requisite inherency’ for receiving, required property of absorbing for its functioning, functioning the automatic affluence inflow of all forces which were near, surrounding forces, HE lengthened prolonged its duration.
The footnote on page 917 is completely changed. The revised version almost seems to be some sort of advertisement .
Note: NOTE is is, by chance, interested in the ideas presented in this very chapter, chapter-seriously interested, not taking them “lightly” as contemporary people usually do-and if he is endowed with physical, moral, psychic, and material data whose quality is satisfactory according to my understanding, I earnestly advise him to read, without fail, my proposed book entitled Opiumists, if, of course, mobilize his forces and, above all, bring together in himself the requisite conditions for becoming worthy to be an “all-rights-possessing pupil” of my “universal laboratory”-the laboratory I intend to open after completing my writings, and the writing creation of this book there which will be sufficient French armagnac and Khaizarian bastourma. connected with the last phase of my intense activity for the good of all mankind.
Another example of added content.
… and again sat down in his former place and resumed the interrupted reading of his newspaper.
“This bull-necked cook carried out the whole procedure with the most complete indifference, like a real automaton, it was visible from his movements that his thoughts were far away, doubtless where the events described by that American newspaper were taking place.
In this case a substantial part of the original text has been removed.
“It very often happens that these power-possessing beings, unintentionally or
“As a rule, in consequence of the fact
important beings there do not use the time foreseen by Great Nature for preparing themselves to become worthy responsible beings-owing chiefly to which during their responsible existence, even in their waking state, all kinds of associations in their common presences almost always flow automatically-therefore they themselves without any individual intentions and at times even half-intentionally try to half-intentionally, do everything in such a way that to hasten the outbreak of the next process of reciprocal destruction should occur sooner, destruction, and they even hope that this next process should proceed dream of it taking place on as large a scale as possible.
1 Wikipedia: Beelzebub’s Tales http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beelzebub%27s_Tales Retrieved 2011-07-28.
3 Publication History of G.I. Gurdjieff’s Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson http://www.dolmenmeadoweditions.com/5_BeelzebubsTales/BeelzebubsTales-History.htm
4 Moore, James (1994). “Moveable Feasts: The Gurdjieff Work” (PDF). http://www.gurdjieff-bibliography.com/Current/20_link-to-pg23.pdf. Retrieved 2011-07-28.
6 Publication History of G.I. Gurdjieff’s Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson http://www.dolmenmeadoweditions.com/5_BeelzebubsTales/BeelzebubsTales-History.htm Retrieved 2011-07-28.
7 Gurdjieff International Review http://www.gurdjieff.org/beelzebub.htm Retrieved 2011-07-30
8 Publication History of G.I. Gurdjieff’s Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson http://www.dolmenmeadoweditions.com/5_BeelzebubsTales/BeelzebubsTales-History.htm Retrieved 2011-07-28.
10 Wikipedia: Jeanne de Salzmann http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeanne_de_Salzmann Retrieved 2011-07-28.