Chez Monsieur Gurdjieff A reading for three voices from the letters of Katherine Mansfield
Close readers of Katherine Mansfield will recall her bold decision in the autumn of 1922 to become a resident at the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man, founded by George Ivanovich Gurdjieff (?1866–1949), not far from Paris, just weeks before her death. Mansfield could have some confidence in the adventure: she would share it with A. R. Orage, her trusted mentor, who had set aside his prominent literary and journalistic career in London to also join Gurdjieff and his circle. The new home of the Institute was Le Prieuré des Basses Loges, a manor house at Fontainebleau-Avon, adjoining the storied forest where kings had hunted. Gurdjieff was – and has remained – a controversial figure, deeply appreciated by some, maligned by others. We should content ourselves here with Mansfield’s vision of the man as a wise, multi-talented and kind teacher, willing to number her among the Institute’s participants despite the fact that he knew her to be mortally ill. She had come to remake her life: if not her health – though there is always hope – then her inner life, her sense of herself. ‘At 34 I am beginning my education,’ she wrote with conviction after some weeks at the Prieuré. It did not take long for her to know that she belonged, frail as she was. How touching to hear her write about ‘the new theatre that we are building. I must go.’...
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