Chronology of Gurdjieff's Life

by James Moore


The special difficulties of Gurdjieffian chronology seem likely to prevail over investigative scholarship. The very date of his birth is in dispute, although Gurdjieff himself stipulates 1866. Between then and 1912 we are chasteningly reliant on Gurdjieff's own four impressionistic accounts, which - in the nature of myth - are innocent of consistency, Aristotelian logic and chronological discipline. Notoriously problematical are 'the missing twenty years' from 1887 to 1907; the journals of the epoch's great Central Asian geographers (Sven Hedin, Sir Aurel Stein, Albert von Le Coq, Paul Pelliot and Count Kozui Otani) do not provide the collateral support for Gurdjieff's account which, here and there, might be expected. My chronology for this period is hence offered provisionally and I have not followed it slavishly in my relevant chapter, The Long Search. Nevertheless, punctuating Gurdjieff's narrative and certainly not offending it, are a few objective historical events which I differentiate by italicizing. Where Gurdjieff himself actually stipulates a date, I bracket in the chronology a source reference (using the simple code explained in the References section). Although from 1913 to 1949 our chronology appears to stand on the much firmer ground afforded by primary documents, independent witness, cross-reference, and reasonable inference, the difficulty remains that Gurdjieffian memoirists focus on interior content. For a school which places a premium on relationship, they seem (with the honourable exception of P. D. Ouspensky) strangely oblivious to the correlative value of an honest date. 

Key to References [Excerpt]

H  The Herald of Coming Good
M  Meetings with Remarkable Men
TS Life Is Real Only Then, When "I Am"

© James Moore 1991 & Gurdjieff Studies 2017
First published in Gurdjieff: the Anatomy of a Myth
and reproduced by kind permission of the author.