When Tertium Organum burst onto the New York literary scene its author, P. D. Ouspensky, was unaware of it. Piotr Demianovich Ouspensky, the most famous pupil of Greco-Armenian spiritual teacher George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, had written Kluck Kzaradkam (the original title) in his native Russian and it had been published in St. Petersburg in 1912. At the time of its New York debut his whereabouts were unknown.
A Russian by the name of Nicholas Bessarabof had emigrated to America before the 1917 Russian Revolution and had taken the book with him. He gave a copy to architect Claude Bragdon who could read Russian and was interested in forth-dimensional consciousness. After reading the book a friend echoed Bragdons’ sentiments saying: “He has recently discovered a young Russian who “seems to us remarkable in many ways.” The man has introduced him to Ouspensky and his book on the fourth dimension called Tertium Organum. Bragdon believes this book to be the “long sought New Testament of the Sixth Race which will justify the meekness of the saint, the vision of the mystic, and create a new heaven and a new earth.” He is currently collaborating with Bessarabof on an English translation.”
In 1920 without Ouspensky’s knowledge, Bragdon and Bessarabof published the book in English through Manas Press in New York. Meanwhile Ouspensky, a journalist and destitute author, had arrived in Constantinople with hardly a penny to his name. Later that year he was gratified to receive a substantial royalty cheque, and the news that Tertium Organum was a publishing success in English, and that his fame in literary circles was assured.
In 1921 he wrote; This translation, made without my knowledge and participation, at a time when I was cut off by war and revolution from the civilized world, transmits my thought so exactly that after a very attentive review of the book I could find only one word to correct. Such a result could be achieved only because Mr. Bessarabof and Mr. Bragdon were not translating words merely, but were grasping directly my thoughts at the back of them.
In May 1921 Ouspensky received the sum of £100 from Lady Rothermere who was in Rochester, New York; it was wired with the message: ‘Deeply impressed by your book Tertium Organum wish to meet you in New York or London - will pay all expenses.’ This invitation gave Ouspensky the opportunity to move to England where he secured Gurdjieff’s permission to write a book on his philosophy.
Ouspensky spent the next twenty years in England lecturing and teaching Gurdjieff’s ideas and developing his own philosophy. His lectures in London were attended by such literary figures as Aldous Huxley, T. S. Eliot, and other writers, journalists and doctors. His influence on the literary scene of the 1920’s and 1930’s as well as on the Russian avant-garde was huge but today he is not widely known.
About the author
Piotr Demianovich Ouspensky was born in Russia in 1878. He was probably the most well known pupil of early twentieth-century spiritual teacher Georgei I. Gurdjieff.
He studied mathematics at Moscow University and went on to become a journalist, author and a student of the Esoteric.
Ouspensky took an interest in Theosophical literature and particularly the possible synthesis of religion, mysticism, and science. In 1912 he published his book Tertium Organum; the Third Canon of Thought; a Key to the Enigmas of the World. It discussed his theories of time, space, relativity, Theosophy, cosmic consciousness, and Eastern and Western philosophy.
In 1920 Tertium Organum was published in the USA; Claude Bragdon one of the people responsible for translating and publishing the English edition stated at the time;
‘In naming his book Tertium Organum Ouspensky reveals at a stroke that astounding audacity which characterizes his thought throughout… Such a title says, in effect: “Here is a book which will reorganize all knowledge. The Organon of Aristotle formulated the laws under which the subject thinks; the Novum Organum of Bacon, the laws under which the object may be known; but the Third Canon of Thought existed before these two, and ignorance of its laws does not justify their violation. Tertium Organum shall guide and govern human thought henceforth.”’
In 1921 Ouspensky left Russia bound for London. Once there, and with Gurdjieff’s blessing he began teaching and lecturing about Gurdjieff’s philosophical system.
He died at Lyne Place, Surrey in the United Kingdom in 1947. Shortly afterwards The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution was published, together with In Search of the Miraculous. Some of his lectures were published under the title of The Fourth Way in 1957; these were largely a collection of question and answer sessions, the book details important concepts, both introductory and advanced, for students of these teachings.
Publisher: White Crow Books
Published April 2011
Size: 216 x 140 mm