Students of Gurdjieff's teaching know little about Madame Ouspensky because she left no written body of work—although some of her sayings have been recalled by De Ropp in his short account of his time with her. That has been virtually the only material extant. Until now.
Now, an authentic transcription of talks given by Madame Ouspensky to her group at Mendham is finally being published by Buzzword. The talks, distilled from notes taken by her pupils at the time, have been painstakingly compered and edited by the late Dorothy Darlington who spent years with Madame and Mr Ouspensky and who had a special affinity with Madame.
Dorothy wished this part of Madame's legacy to be preserved. But despite decades of prompting and submissions, no Gurdjieff Group, or Group affiliated press, has bothered to take the project forward.
So, to preserve this account and to make it accessible to those studying Gurdjieff's ideas, we are now issuing this unique and priceless material as an ebook.
As Dorothy recalls in her introductory note: "In Madame Ouspensky's successive houses near London and later at Mendham, New Jersey, Saturday evenings were reserved for a particular purpose.
"It was then that she would speak of the Ideas. But she did not give lectures. This book records some of her talks—many verbatim and others, particularly those of 1945, pieced together from notes that she corrected. Nothing has been added and, where possible, her own Anglo-Russian idiom has been preserved.
"Where repetition occurs, it is and was deliberate. Madame herself called it, 'beating on the same point.' It must also be remembered that the talks were addressed to different people on different occasions and at different times."
Dorothy was in charge of the kitchen for ten years At Franklin Farms, Mendham, New Jersey when Madame gave her talks.
During Madame's final years, she was in charge of many practical aspects of running the house and also edited The Fourth Way. She was also present in the room when Gurdjieff visited Madame. She said, 'The expression on his face I will never forget.'
When the connection with the New York group was established she became a regular member of the Gurdjieff Foundation and, after Madame's death, went to Paris where Madame de Salzmann asked her what she wanted to do. She replied that she would leave it up to her.
In 1965, she was sent to Australia and mentored the Sydney/Canberra Gurdjieff Society established by C. S. Nott, aiding it through the transition from UK to American guidance during the visits of Rina Hands, Charles Wright and the initial visits of James Wyckoff.
What a handful of older group members remember is the enormous contribution she made to the group here. During the dark days of flawed hierarchy and factions in Sydney, she kept the group alive.
Dorothy was a powerful iconoclast. Her impatience with fools matched her deep respect for the Work.
Dorothy had not only her own notes of Madame's Saturday evening talks but notes of the same talks taken by up to six others. This, then, was what she proposed to collate and edit as a group work.
It was a painstaking and meticulous process of comparison and evaluation, informed always by Dorothy's knowledge of how Madame spoke and how she was. As well as the precise sentence construction, each full stop and comma was placed to represent Madame's emphatic speech pattern and uncompromising approach to her subject.
She called the book Saturday Evenings at Mendham.
Buzzword Books presents this material as a service to Gurdjieff Group members worldwide. According to Dorothy's wish, all royalties will go to the Gurdjieff Society of Australia.