2006 | 60 | 2(273) | 165-169
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Contribution to the Reception of Gurdjieff

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The interest in Gurdjieff disclosed by Grotowski was the outcome of his years-long friendship with Peter Brook, starting with the 1960s. Its evidence includes the correspondence, cited in the article, between the Customs Office in Zgorzelec and Jędrzej Selle (in 1966-1971 deputy head of administration at the Laboratorium Theatre in Wroclaw, in 1972-1978 head of organization entrusted with the duties of deputy director), who in December 1968 brought Grotowski's books over to Poland. The more than ten titles, primarily classics of literature, philosophy and mysticism, included French translations of Gurdjieff's 'Belzebub's Tales to His Grandson', 1950 (Récits de Belzébuth a son petit-fils) and P. D. Uspiensky's 'In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching', 1949 (Fragments d'un enseignement inconnu), highly regard by the Gurdjieff circles. In the light of the documents cited in the article the beginnings of more profound interest in Gurdjieff could be dated as 1968. The author discusses the copy of Uspiensky's book given to him by Grotowski in 1982, prior to his final departure from Poland. He also recalls that the part of the young Gurdjieff in Jeanne de Salzmann's and Peter Brook's 'Meetings with Remarkable Men' (1978) was supposed to have been played by Ryszard Cieslak. Grotowski was not interested in having some of his texts, originally published in the West, translated in Poland. They included his study on Gurdjieff - 'A Kind of Volcano. An Interview with Jerzy Grotowski', based on three meetings with Michel de Salzmann in Paris in 1991, published in French in Switzerland in 1992, and in English in the USA in 1996. In this case, however, the Polish translation was issued in November 2001, almost three years after Grotowski's death. His heirs agreed to the request made by Peter Brook, who turned to them in connection with a publication prepared upon the occasion of a conference held in Wroclaw - 'Towards the essence. Georgiy Ivanovich Gurdjieff - impact and significance'. It is a great pity that we do not have at our disposal a precise list of Grotowski's book collection, and that all chances for such a list will be lost irreversibly. Grotowski was to a considerable degree influenced by a dialogue with certain book, as the author mentioned more extensively in the article 'Dzielo Jerzego Grotowskiego jako przedmiot badan' (The Works of Jerzy Grotowski as a Topic of Research), published in 'Konteksty' (60(2006) Nr 1(272)). Finally, he also mentions that Grotowski never connected his name with any of the Gurdjieff groups; on the other hand, he harboured the conviction, which he shared with others about the absence of any sort of a missionary inclination both on the part of Gurdjieff himself and his followers. Naturally, we cannot exclude the possibility that even if he had not met Peter Brook, Grotowski could have stumbled upon Gurdjieff in some other way. These are, however, mere speculations which it is best to evade.
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  • Z. Osinski, Uniwersytet Warszawski, Wydzial Polonistyki, ul. Krakowskie Przedmiescie 26/28, 00-927 Warszawa, Poland
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